10 Keys to a Better Life as a Fanboy: 2. Have a Bad Memory

Ian McKellan in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

This series of articles is designed to help you, the fan, try and divorce yourself from your attachment to source material and judge a film on its own merits and not in comparison to another work. These tips come from my own experience. I hope they are helpful.

I don’t know if it’s possible to train yourself to have a bad memory but you can sure as hell give it the old college try. You may have to be born with it and in that case I have been blessed. At least in this regard, it’s not really as handy as you may think.

How this will help you, though, is that the further you remove yourself from the source material the more you will be able to enjoy the film as a separate entity. An example of my experience with this is the Harry Potter films. Now granted they have gotten better, in my opinion (exponentially so with each installment), however, when I saw The Sorcerer’s Stone my first viewing was marred because I had so recently finished reading the book.

Since then there has been a bit of a gap between my having read the book and seeing each movie. Some were larger than others but that has helped. With each successive film I have spent less and less time and mental energy thinking to myself “Oh, Such-and-Such is coming up.”

Anticipating events and then wanting to see how they are executed cinematically can diminish your enjoyment unnaturally. If you came in as a blank slate you may either be awed or disappointed but it would be all your opinion of what you saw and in no way influenced by your expectation.

An illustration I could give you would be The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I never read them. I don’t care if I ever do read them. It certainly wouldn’t make my bucket list were I to write one (Finishing War and Peace would), but I did see all three movies. Thus, I had no preset expectations and the reception it got was the reverse of what usually happens. It was hyped, fans wanted it and were typically pleased with what they saw. For the record: I thought part one was pretty good, part two was interminable and part three was brilliant until it decided it would refuse to end. In some parallel dimension of the multiverse I’m sure it never did.

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