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Our discussion in class about first and second viewings made me think about the different experiences that we get from watching movies for the first time as compared to rewatching a movie you have already seen. Of course, the topic gets a little bit trickier when we consider twist movies, like the ones we have seen for the past two weeks for this course, but I think that this conundrum can also be applied to cinema in general.

An important variable in this respect is how much time has passed since you’ve last seen the film. For instance, I had seen The Sixth Sense a very long time ago (I think, if I remember correctly, that I saw it as soon as it came out on DVD, so this means more than 5 or 6 years ago) and this undoubtedly contributed to my enjoyment of the film when I saw it again two weeks ago. Therefore, even though I knew the key twist – since that is the aspect of The Sixth Sense viewers are most likely to remember – I still took pleasure in reanalyzing how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together and, knowing the big secret of the fabula, I was also able to be more critical in my consumption of the syuzhet.

Memento, on the other hand, proved to be a less enjoyable experience when I saw it again last week because I had seen it very recently and, moreover, I thought that being familiar with the twist ending destroyed the viewing pleasure much more so than in the case of The Sixth Sense. I am wondering if this is because of the reverse chronology of Memento – could it be that the main appeal of the film resides in the narrative ingenuity of its plot and once that novelty wears off, the fabula just doesn’t offer enough to keep your attention? I think this is definitely a big part of the problem. To be completely frank, as much as I appreciate the fantastic originality of Memento, once you take away that little narrative trick of the reverse chronology, I don’t think the story in itself is strong enough to qualify it as a memorable movie (pun totally intended). Following our discussion in class, it seems that several people share my opinion, and I especially value Nick’s input, who has said that he watched it in normal chronology and it didn’t really sustain his attention or elicit his appreciation very much.

Of course, other important factors have to do with how many times you have seen a movie before seeing it again (it matters if you have just seen it once or 8 times) and how long ago you have last watched it (if it was last weekend or 7 years ago), so I don’t want to imply that my feelings were strictly based on the films themselves; it would be foolish to disregard these important logistical variables. Nevertheless, I must say that, once you strip it off its narrative ingenuity, Memento remains a pretty conventional “vengeance flick” hinging on a highly problematic and increasingly implausible psychological disorder that just seems to work too well in the context of the story. The Sixth Sense, on the other hand, seems to have much more to offer even upon repeated viewings, although it is clear that its fabula is not problem-free either. And perhaps that in the end, it literally all comes down to the twist: and I am much more intrigued to find out if a character I’ve been seeing onscreen for the past 2 hours is dead or alive (Malcolm), rather than if he is honest or deceitful (Teddy, Lenny, Natalie).

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