Film Nerd’s Choice: Superman
Director: Richard Donner
Cast: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, Marlon Brando, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford, Terrence Stamp
Synopsis: Though not the first appearance of Superman on-screen, this is the first appearance of DC’s ultimate character on the big screen. With a big name cast, amazing technology for the period, and enough dose of heartfelt origin story, Christopher Reeve’s Superman defined the character for a generation.
As a child, I was already a fan of both science fiction and of the superhero genre. As a teenaged I became addicted to Marvel, but prior to discovering these comics thanks to a mate in the seventh grade, all I really was familiar with was the DC output (aside from the likes of Spiderman, of course). I was a big Batman fan, but absolutely adored Suoerman, running around the backyard wearing a Supes cape, on one occasion getting stung by a swarm of wasps for my trouble. It made no change to how often I watched this film on our taped from TV Betamax cassette.
We are talking about a period where film, fiction, and reality were close to being one for me. I had little concept of acting or on rating acting skill. In hindsight, I do find some of the acting, and some of the sentiment (Truth, Justice, and the American Way!) very much over the top. It is the more experienced actors that gave the film a gravitas, but back then the names Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, and Terrence Stamp meant little to me. The first and the last I lknew as those ones that appear before Krypton blows up, and Hackman I despised as representing all villainy. Come on, in the end, i was there to watch a man deflect bullets and fly. The technology was cutting edge, now it is dated. But I still to this day can’t help but feel a level of magic watching the film.
Perhaps this is due to the element of the film that has best stood the test of time… John Williams’ score. Another memory comes to me of this film, the night we were taping it from the TV broadcast. My dad would usually press stop on a recording as soon as the credits started rolling. On this occasion, I begged him to tape it through right until the end… which he did. This once again lead me to many occasions of running around the living room with my cape on whilst the closing credits music played. This started me on a life-long love of movie soundtracks, a collection I have which is now substantial… only really rivalled by my DVD and Blu-Ray collections. In particular, it started a love for John Williams’ scores, which continue to impress me to this very day.
The film is a little dated, and perhaps bears the level of optimism of a bygone era. It is also a piece of history, and I shall always be a fan.
5 stars out of 5.