I was hoping to see a couple of Lubitsch films tonight, at a retrospective season of some of his older films at Melbourne Cinematheque tonight. But, illness has got the better of me, and I'm home resting, finding solace in watching short clips of films online and browsing through books. In my meanderings, I stumble upon an old journal that I used to record scribbly little jottings about films viewed at home, written either during or after I watched them. I can usually tell the difference between the furious rambles during a film session and the quieter reflections after a film - the former is nearly unintelligible, and the latter is usually to the tune of "great/ average/ crap film, but I'm too tired to write so I'm going to bed." No, not entirely true - amongst the frantic inky scratches are some occasional nuggets that help to jog the memory. A little note here or there and I'm nearly, never always but NEARLY, drawn back into a full recollection of the film.
The thing that really surprised me, when flicking through these notes, was a terrifying percentage of films that I simply cannot remember seeing. It's not that these films were alarmingly bad, and I don't think I fell asleep through these films - you always remember the films you fall asleep in. But for some reason, they just didn't stick. A date jotted down on one page shows that I watched Gaslight on 25 April 2009. Really? You could have fooled me, because I am desperately opening all the cupboards, doors, and caskets in my mind and I cannot remember a single frame of this film. My hilariously inept notes are strikingly unhelpful, too. Most of the mad scribbles look like the work of a drunkard - the only cogent line I can make out is "Get a grip, you silly woman". Oh, and the last line asks the question "is Joseph Cotten's ear pierced?!" What the hell?
It seems I watched Rene Clair's Le Million about three or so years ago. No notes (such a shame, the notes for Gaslight were so informative) but just a date and the name of the film. Funnily enough, after some intense furrowing of the brow, I can remember one little fragment of this film - a sports commentary being played as a chase scene is comically portrayed as a....game of rugby? Am I right, or going bonkers because I'm feeling ill?
The other funny feeling that comes up about Le Million; I struggle to remember having seen the film but I DO recall enjoying the film. It's as if the emotional residue around the film has remained alive whereas the actual memory of the film itself has been misfiled somewhere.
In my headachey stupor, I initially felt a bit downcast at my inability to remember seeing these films. "Everyone else remembers the films they see, why can't I?", I inwardly moaned to myself, like a whiney little kid. But, really, forgetting is just as crucial as remembering, for forgetting can give us the impetus to re-visit and re-view films seen and lost. I've made a smallish list of films I've seen in the past ten years and can barely remember, a list titled "To Re-View". There, a list, that makes me feel better.
(Oh, dear lord, another list. How many million films does that make it now?)