Shelf Challenge Update

As I sit here on the first day of February putting the second disc of Cleopatra back in the case, I’m now 45 films through my list and by chance, still stuck on the first shelf of 45 too.

Cleopatra is an amazing movie, backed by an amazing double disc set for UK with stacks of in-depth documentaries, period features and very informative commentaries, but any fan of the big classics will know that Cleopatra is notoriously long and after 4 hours 11 minutes playing time, I found it hard to remember how the film began by the time the end credits are rolling.

I was one of the lucky few that were invited to be beta testers for Letterboxd in 2007 and have pretty much obsessively logged everything I’ve seen – except Chitty Chitty Bang Bang because that’s on so much heavy rotation I’d probably be banned from the site for sanity’s sake. The upside to using this site and app is that I can see exactly when I last watched a film. The last two entries on the list are Chopping Mall and Cleopatra which were both coincidentally last watched nearly 11 years ago.

I’ve always said that I love both of these movies, but do I really?

If I really did love them as much as I said, why aren’t they picked up off the shelf and given an airing at least once every decade? After all, I happily say, I love Chitty Chitty Bang Bang despite being mad as a bag of spiders with the plot narrative written by a 4-year-old on mescaline.

I could go one step further and be one of Shatners women asking “What is this… Love”? Is it simply the love of knowing that I possess these objects on the shelves and have the ability to watch them Whenever I please? That’s always the argument that any collector uses when the discussion about video streaming crops up, but if it genuinely takes me 11 years to get around to watching something again, is there any point in owning it in the first place? Will I still be watching Chopping Mall when I’m 64?

I’ll happily admit that I fall into the trap that many of us collectors are prey to of being stuck on the constant treadmill of catching up with what the video labels are releasing this week, giving us barely barely enough time to take stock of what we actually already have and savour every last piece of information on there. This was the whole purpose of us buying them in the first place.

These are all worthless objects. If I die tomorrow, most of them would be confined to landfill without a minutes thought, so over the next few months, I’m going to work out some kind of =IF(logic test,value if true,value if false) formula for Excel that decides what’s going to stay and what’s going to go to the closest charity shop.

Renowned UK radio DJ John Peel was a ravenous music fan who openly admitted that he had records that he would never live to hear again amongst the thousands upon thousands in his collection and it’s taken me until this year and this experiment/resolution for me to realise what exactly he was talking about.

Tune in to see what happens to this lab rat next month…