Has this ever happened to you? For years I didn't get the fuss over Mark Rothko's paintings. In the 1970s I said that to an artist friend, Sylvia Schuster, and she told me to go to The Phillips Gallery (I was living in DC at the time) where there then was a small room with several Rothko paintings and nothing else. She told me to sit on the bench provided and pick one painting and look at it for forty minutes. I did it, because I loved and respected my friend. And sure enough, about a half hour into the exercise I had an epiphany that felt like an elevation of my spirit to new heights, and I never dismissed Rohtko's greatness again.
Well tonight I watched AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (on TCM) for the eighth or tenth time since it first came out when I was nine or ten, and had a similar experience. I always loved aspects of the film but felt it was composed of disparate elements that didn't hold together with some better or worse than others (like I never got the French supposed heart throb singer guy). But tonight (last night by the time I post this) watching the movie alone with no distractions and focusing on what felt like facets of each shot I had overlooked before, suddenly every frame of the film worked perfectly, even the obvious "mistakes" (like when Gene Kelly's hat gets accidentally knocked off or I could see pieces of the fake flowers stuck to his arm, etc.) and I felt I understood the vision that unified it all, even the French guy's presence as what before seemed only a plot device but now was an integral character whose singing delighted me. It now is not just enjoyable for Gene Kelly's hunky athleticism, or Leslie Caron's adorableness, or the final extended dance number like no other in movie history, but instead every word, every motion, every set and prop and costume etc. fit together perfectly in ways that created a delightfully satisfying experience that elevated my spirit to new heights.