Films That Made Us: Libby Briggs
Updated: Feb 20
I've been wanting to write one of these for a long time, but narrowing down my top films was almost impossible. Finally, here we are...
The Iron Giant (1999)
Directed by Brad Bird
Coming up first, the film that defined my childhood. Though it was released the same year I was born, I vividly remember being aged five or six and impatiently waiting for the videotape to rewind so I could jump on my parents' bed and re-watch it for the hundredth time on that tiny little TV.
The animation follows Hogarth (Eli Marienthal), a young boy who finds what looks like a menacing metal giant roaming the forest. Only creatively named ‘Giant’ (Vin Diesel) turns out to be naive and almost childlike, leading Hogarth to protect him from the hands of the greedy government. The artistic style is simplistic and reminiscent of many popular cartoons, which is probably why I liked it so much as a kid, but the sacrifice in the penultimate scene still brings me to tears even now.
"Welcome to downtown Coolsville! Population: us."
Directed by Amy Heckerling
Not only did Clueless spark my love for Paul Rudd (who plays Josh), but also introduced me to one of my favourite characters ever: Cher (Alicia Silverstone). Sure, I remember being the Tai (Brittany Murphy) of the group (always asked to try make-up or to actually style my hair for once), but Cher’s generosity is unmatched in Clueless. I wouldn’t say it should be mandatory for every secondary school girl to watch this chick-flick at least once, but the world would be a much better place if it was. Be more Cher!
"You're a virgin who can't drive."
Radio Flyer (1992)
Directed by Richard Donner
Although Radio Flyer is considered another kid’s film, it’s one I certainly wouldn’t show my own future kids. Directed by Richard Donner (The Goonies), Radio Flyer tells the story of Mike and Bobby, two young brothers who live in fear of their stepfather. ‘The King’ physically abuses Bobby until the youngest flees with the help of his big brother.
Mixed with childhood imagination and innocence, this film sets itself up as a simple family film, which is likely the reason the grim reality took me off-guard. It’s one fictional story that many kids deal with in real life, so knowing I couldn’t just jump through the TV and protect Bobby made me feel helpless and unsettled. Added with the various theories about the other possible fates of the boy meant a sleepless night after watching Radio Flyer.
"From that moment on, I realised Bobby was my responsibility."
Jurassic Park (1993)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
It was difficult not to just create a list of Steven Spielberg films for this piece. E.T will always end in me sobbing and Raiders of the Lost Ark I could watch a million times over. However, Jurassic Park will always hold a special place in my heart. There are so many iconic scenes in this film, but nothing beats John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) proudly announcing “welcome to Jurassic Park” as Alan (Sam Neill) and Ellie (Laura Dern) look on in awe. The music still gives me goosebumps.
"Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth."
East of Eden (1955)
Directed by Elia Kazan
Of the three James Dean films, this one was an easy choice. While not his most famous, East of Eden is a beautiful and painful story of a young man desperate for love, mirroring what we know about Dean and his lonely life.
His character, Cal Trask, is the least favoured of two brothers. Abandoned by his mother as a baby, he aches for his father’s admiration and acceptance. I couldn’t find a better scene to showcase Dean’s talent than when Cal clings to his father, sobbing after his gift, or more to the point, love is rejected.
"I've been jealous all my life."
True Romance (1993)
Directed by Tony Scott
Directed by the late Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino, True Romance follows an unconventional couple as they try to sell stolen drugs in Hollywood – really, what else would you expect?
My favourite thing about this film is simply the characters. The married couple consist of Clarence (Christian Slater), a comic-book nerd and Alabama (Patricia Arquette), a call girl who very quickly confesses to being in love with Clarence, her first client. I adore that the fact that neither of them are the typical tough guys you might expect and both essentially have no idea what they’re doing. Throw in stoner Brad Pitt and it’s pretty much my perfect film.
"You're so cool, you're so cool, you're so cool."
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
La La Land (2016)
Moonrise Kindgom (2012)
Blue Valentine (2010)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Written by Libby Briggs