Monday, August 25, 2014

Ask JKM a Question: The Best Movie You Only Need to See Once?

A regular reader, Jason, asks:

“What's the best movie you've ever seen that you only need to see once?

Jason, that’s a fantastic and intriguing question, and I’m afraid I know my answer right off the bat: Schindler’s List (1993).

This Steven Spielberg film is beautifully-shot, strongly-acted, and it serves as in important reminder of how one individual can make a difference in the face of entrenched power and, indeed, in the face of evil.  The film is enormously affecting.

Furthermore, I believe that every student in American high schools, public or private, should see the film during that four year span.  It's a great film.

But Schindler’s List devastates me.

I find it horribly and soul-crushingly depressing that one group of people treated another group of people so inhumanly…simply because of different ideologies.  I know that we must remember our history, lest it repeat itself.  I agree with that maxim wholeheartedly, and I so I feel strongly that people should see the film. 

On a purely personal basis, I never, ever want to watch the film again. It just tears me up. I like to think I’m an imaginative and empathetic person, and Schindler’s List haunts me at a deep, psychic level. 

Great film, but I don’t need to see it again, at least unless I plan to write a review of it for the blog or for a book I’m writing. 

In terms of genre films, I also feel that Irreversible (2002) is a great and important film -- the 2001: A Space Odyssey of the rape-and-revenge sub-genre -- and yet, similarly, I don’t feel the need to watch it again, at least not yet.  I’m sure one day I will, but not anytime soon.


  1. I would agree completely about Schindler's List. With Irreversible though, I've watched it at least 4 or 5 times and I find that it's a discomfort that is worth bearing. All of Noe's films are like that with me. Martyrs is a film that I will probably only watch once. A very rough ride that I am glad I took, but that I doubt I will buy another ticket for.

  2. Gosh that is a great question.

    Solid answer. I have seen your choice just once and it is indeed one I have not revisited.

    If I had to pick one, for a long time, though I have since seen bits and pieces or in passing on cable, it would have to be Saving Private Ryan.

    For similar reasons, there was such power in that film and it really stayed with me. There were scenes in that film I just never wanted to see again. It was truly affecting and painful. I can imagine for those emotionally connected to those very real events it is tough to watch if they could watch at all.

  3. I entirely agree on Schindlers List, it strongly affected me, my partner at the time who merely new about the holocaust in general terms (not specific) was in shock.

    I find Last House on the Left a tricky watch and have only seen it 2 times in 25 years.

  4. I've seen 'Schindler's List' multiple times, of course the story is powerful, yet a fictionalized accounting of true life events somehow packs less punch for me. Especially when you can actually view footage of the real life Holocaust that the movie so meticulously reconstructs. Of course this is purely subjective.

    'Audition', for me, is a one-time only viewing, no need to open that door again.

  5. Anonymous11:56 AM

    I'd choose the original Lolita.