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By Bert Ehrmann
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Fort Wayne Reader
The 1998 movie Godzilla was on TV the other day, I watched a bit of it and was instantly transported back to that summer when I first saw that movie. I remembered how much hype Godzilla had, the ads for the movie and the theater I saw it in too. I started thinking how many movies from ’98 affect me that way. It’s not like Godzilla is a great movie, but everytime I see it or another flick from that year I’m taken back to ’98.
I suppose the reason I keep coming back to the films of the summer of ’98 again and again was that it was the first year that I really started going to the movies. I’d been interested in films since I was little — I used to clip ads for movies from our local paper and my grandparents took myself and my brother to loads of films growing up — but ’98 was the first year I really had the means to start going to movies myself.
I think there’s also a few other reasons ’98 sticks in my mind.
It was one of the first years that movies started to be advertised via the web — which doesn’t sound like a big deal today but back then it was revolutionary. Before the internet if you wanted to see movie trailers you had to go to the movies or sometimes TV programs like Entertainment Tonight would air them too. But if you missed ET or didn’t have the cash to catch a film you were mostly out of luck.
You could also read specialty magazines like Cinescape or Premiere that would also cover upcoming movies in order to ‘be in the know’ of what was upcoming as well.
But when the internet came along and movie studios started marketing their films online, all this became redundant. Those early movie websites would house (tiny) copies of movie trailers and would also have galleries of photos.
I also think ’98 sticks since movies started being released on DVD at an affordable price around this time too. And these movies were some of the first DVDs to include things like alternate scenes and commentaries that were unheard of before then.
1998 was also the time that I’d launched my own website where I started following movies online. I still have early copies of that site where I was covering films like Ronin and Star Trek: Insurrection. I was so into movies and the web that I also made a fan-site for the movie Deep Impact where I copied screen grabs from the trailer that featured deleted scenes.
I think that’s why whenever I catch a movie from ’98 playing on TV my mind immediately goes back to that time period when everything movie was new and exciting to me. When it seemed like anything was possible with films and the whole world of entertainment was changing in front of my eyes from how they were marketed to how they were played once they were out of the theater. It’s a weird sort of nostalgia I have for ’98 that I don’t really have for other years before or since.
Of all the movies I saw in the theater that year there’s really only a few that I didn’t care for — Lost in Space, Soldier and The Big Lebowski, and it didn’t take me long to come around to see the greatness of Lebowski. The rest from Ronin to Saving Private Ryan to The Truman Show and more are all still solid/great movies. And I think it helps with ’98 too that there were a wide variety of movies that year. Everything from war movies like Private Ryan, sci-fi Armageddon and The X-Files and comedies like Lebowski and There’s Something About Mary too.
As I look around my office I notice little bits of ’98 I still have today. I have things like “making of” books for Visions of Armageddon and a book for Saving Private Ryan too. I also have magazines from that year for Godzilla and The X-Files somewhere in my stack of old magazines and movie posters for Deep Impact, The X-Files, Armageddon, Saving Private Ryan, Lost in Space, Ronin, and The Truman Show hidden away too.
It wouldn’t surprise me if 17 years from now I’ve still got all that stuff from ’98 with me too.
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