Where Great Films Go to Die: My Personal Movie Graveyard

I used to be very anal-retentive about finishing the movies I started. I can remember watching Felini’s La Strada over three different viewings all spaced about a week apart. This is not the best way to watch movies, and I should really go back and watch it again, but the point is that I almost never left a film uncompleted. That was old me. And by “old me,” I mean “pre-fatherhood” me, otherwise known as “increased-responsibility-due-to-being-in-charge-of-a-life” me. Somehow, finishing the movies I start doesn’t seem so important anymore, resulting in losing countless wonderful movie moments.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Oftentimes the impetus for watching a film beginning-to-end wasn’t about the enriching experience, but an obsessive-compulsive need to complete it, or the desire to be able to tell people that, yes, I have seen La Strada. Allowing myself to not finish a film, and to know that I probably never will, has largely been about giving up control. Having said that, I want to memorialize those movies that started strong but died before they were able to finish telling their stories. Below is a list of films that I recently began viewing but never finished (with commentary).

1. Faust (1926) Dir. F.W. Murnau

2. To the Wonder (2012) Dir. Terrence Malick

  • These first two hurt the most, as Murnau and Malick are two of my favorite film-makers. I seriously loved Faust and so much want to finish it.

3. The Host (2006) Dir. Bong Joon-ho

  • This is the 2006 Korean monster movie that is the most successful film in Korea’s history and which almost single-handedly ushered in the Korean New Wave, not the Twilight-in-the-future movie from this year.

4. Ploy  (2007) Dir. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang

5. Sherlock Jr.  (1924) Dir. Buster Keaton

  • I have seen this movie several times, but the fact that I couldn’t finish my most recent viewing of this half-hour joy ride was a little sobering.

6. Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)

7. Existenz (1999) Dir. David Cronenberg

  • I watched this long enough to see the undulating vagina game pads. That’s Cronenberg for you.

8. Antiviral (2012) Dir. Brandon Cronenberg

  • I have seen most of Cronenberg Sr.’s movies, but couldn’t get through his son’s first.

9. Man Bites Dog (1992) Dir. Remy Belvaux

  • I couldn’t finish this movie because it was just too unsettling. As I have mentioned before, my fortitude for violence has weakened since parenthood.

10. Daisies (1966) Dir. Vera Chytilova

What are the movies that you started but never finished? And if you have seen one of these movies to its completion, feel free to discuss at your leisure!

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10 Responses to Where Great Films Go to Die: My Personal Movie Graveyard

  1. jjames36 says:

    To the Wonder is worth finishing if you get the chance. It ain’t great, but it’s far from bad.

    As to me: Citizen Kane. I keep trying, oh how I’ve tried. But I just can’t.

    • I really hope to finish To the Wonder. I love Malick and Tree of Life is one of my favorite movies.
      It has been a really long time since I watched Citizen Kane and I really need to re-watch.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Daisies is so great! You should definitely finish it at some point in time. I almost shut it off to give myself a surrealism break when I was watching it, but I’m glad I didn’t because the ending is so worth it.

    I got through about twenty minutes of Point Break before excusing myself from the room and going to sleep. It’s really bad.

  3. The Vern says:

    The Host is a fun monster film. I think one critic said that it was Little Miss Sunshine meets Jaws. Yeah I believe that

    • That is an intriguing analogy. I did enjoy it, but when the time ticks away and the eyes start to droop, and I slowly realize that no matter how late I stay up I get up when she gets up, sleep usually wins.

  4. Jack Flacco says:

    Like you, I used to watch movies until the very end. I always had hope the movie would get better. That idea died a long time ago. My time is extremely valuable nowadays and a movie has to catch my attention from frame 1. It’s not to say the movie has to be all action, 3D or the latest and greatest POV. No. The story has to rock! For instance, I can sit through The Wizard of Oz without much of a quibble. It’s a great story–and that was made in 1939!

    • If I am in the right mood and just need to zone out for a couple of hours, I am game for anything. It just so happens that I am only good for about a half hour or so. Now a good movie with great storytelling and complex, memorable characters? Those are worth watching beginning to end no matter what the physical or mental state I am in.

  5. Man Bites Dog is such an important, powerful film in my opinion and its genius had me captivated to the extent I dare not turn it off. Still, I do admit it’s confronting and an understand how having kids might affect your tolerance to violence. Even without them I’m finding myself becoming unsettled a lot easier than I used to be.
    Very much enjoyed this article – an interesting premise and equally interesting films mentioned.

    • I agree with you about Man Bites Dog. Its power lies in the continual conflict raging within the viewer. It is a movie I think I should finish, and part of me very much wants to, I just don’t see that happening anytime soon. Thanks for the comment, and glad you enjoyed the article!

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