Last night, my fourteen year-old daughter returned from two weeks at camp. This camp of hers in Algonquin Park is a pretty classic one: no electronics, no electricity in the tents and cabins, and no flush toilets, so the need to catch up on Instagram and Snapchat (and the proper use of a toilet) is almost immediate.
She spent some time regaling us in all her camp fun including descriptions of cabin mates and their personalities, exceptional stories camp activities and sports and then promptly fell into a twelve-hour, post-camp coma which I believe continues to this hour.
She spent the most time very animatedly telling us about the camp theatre production for July, Beauty and the Beast. This is no let’s-look-through-the-dress-up-box-and-see-what-we-can-find camp skit but a well-executed musical with a very talented cast held in a dedicated outdoor theatre. Not that I have actually seen a production, other than a YouTube-posted version, but they’re impressive. (And I was a postulant in a small town amateur production of The Sound of Music thirty-five years ago so I know what I’m talking about!).
As soon as she got home, she and a neighbour wanted to rent the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast (not sure if it was for comparison or to just gloat at Lumiere’s accent) but I told her we already had a copy, and after an impressively short ten minutes of rummaging I returned to the family room and handed them a VHS.
Honestly, from the look on her and her friend’s faces you would think I just handed them the Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle.
“What is that?”
“It’s Beauty and the Beast.”
“What do I do with that?”
“You pop it into the machine and watch it.”
“Yes, the VHS machine.”
“We have one of those?”
“Yes, we do. It’s a DVD/VHS combo.”
So we figured out the right input channel fairly quickly and the image soon appears on the screen.
“Ugh!” she cried, “What’s wrong with it?!”
“Nothing,” I replied. “We just have to rewind it”
“I have to what?!”
At this point, her friend then says, “Y’know, this sounds like a lot of work. I’m going home.”
However, soon enough though, we were fully rewinded and perfectly snuggled on the couch and watching a VHS-version of Disney’s 1991 release of Beauty and the Beast. (Which, by the way, you cannot actually get on iTunes, at least not in Canada.) My nineteen year-old soon joined in on the retro movie night and it was a party.
After the movie was over (and remember, Disney movies are only about an hour long!) I suggested to my son, “I’m sure I can bring out you old favourite from the same VHS box, dear.”
To which he replied, “I better go work on my Me Ol’ Bam-boo dance moves, then.”
All this to say, don’t throw away your old VHS tapes or your machine. You’ll never know when they’ll come in handy for a lesson in retro movie watching.
Next up on the marquee: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!