"How's this for a dialogue subject?: a film you have enshrined as the possible masterpiece you haven't gotten around to seeing for so long that now it serves a purpose in its unseen state-- the potentially great experience you postpone repeatedly." - John, in a comment on Michael Atkinson's post Edge of Darkness
For me, this experience is more frequently one of influence. I will often read extensively about a film without having seen it - especially one that seems to connect to my way of seeing the world though cinema. I then carry an idea of this film that lives up to the promises of the articles -- in ways that I am forced to imagine. Inevitably this film marks me in the form I have created, without my ever needing to experience it. In some ways this is like seeing a film that mostly slips from your memory, one you reconstruct in your own image, according to the film's theoretical possibility (which remains even when details fade). It is the project of the film (rather than the film itself) that thus marks me, inspiring me to attempt the same project without relying on stolen details. In some cases (say, the films of Philippe Garrel) a film's unavailability on DVD can be a blessing, a push toward independence and an inspiration that restricts its own possibility as the subject of homage.