It might sound silly, but to me, there’s something magical about going to see a movie in the theater.
It often goes something like this. You arrive at the theater, get your tickets, and meet up with your friends. The group of you talk and laugh and share in the excitement of whatever movie it is you’re about to see. When the time is right, you enter the theater and do your best to find some really good seats. In the past, I liked sitting far in the back, but now I like to sit closer, so that the screen fills just about my entire field of vision. Less distracting and more immersive that way, at least to me.
You and your friends keep laughing and chatting until the previews start, which you quiet down for, but you still can’t help but make some commentary on the trailers that you liked or didn’t like. Then, finally, after the screen pleads for you to turn off your phone, the lights slowly dim down, and the film begins. Ideally, a hush falls over the crowd right at this moment.
Seeing the movie itself is magical (if the movie is good, that is), but that moment when the lights go down is really special in itself. To me, it’s just like when you go to see a play and the same thing happens. The dimming of the lights is like crossing the threshold from the real world into the world that the filmmakers have created, pulling you into an experience.
That’s what a movie is to me. It’s an experience. It’s not merely entertainment. Filmmaking is an art form, and sure, there are plenty of films out there that abuse the medium and are not worth anyone’s time. But there are also many films out there that are truly creative. Immersive. Magical. Timeless. Soul-stirring. Riveting. Even life-changing. Those are the kind of movies that I love seeing in a dark theater on an enormous screen with crystal-clear surround sound. I find that it’s the best way to experience the audiovisual art form known as cinema.
Anyway, if the movie is good, you keep your eyes locked on the screen, drinking it all in, enjoying the story and the characters, marveling at the technical skills being put on display, relishing the sound design and the music. Occasionally, you may whisper a reaction or a thought to the person next to you. Other times, you may laugh out loud, or cheer for joy, or even cry your eyes out. And when the credits start to roll, you stand and applaud along with everyone else in the theater. Then you all exit the theater and talk about the movie. And talk. And talk. And talk. You can’t stop talking about it, because the movie impacted you. It meant something to you.
Movies are powerful.
As I’ve said, if they’re good. And also if your theater experience is as sublime as the one I just described. Sometimes, you run into people who don’t respect the moviegoing experience. They range from mildly annoying (someone playing on their phone the whole time) to excruciatingly frustrating (people talking and reacting much too loudly). I feel sorry for these kinds of people. They just don’t seem to understand all the work, heart, skill, and passion that goes into creating a film. They don’t see movies as art. They see them as a fun little escape from the real world for a couple of hours, during which time they can act however they want, regardless of the people around them.
In a perfect world, everyone would want to keep the moviegoing experience magical. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. So what’s my point?
My point is that cinema is an art form, and one that deserves respect. Seeing a good movie in a theater with an audience that understands this is one of the most magical experiences this world has to offer. I only wish that more people saw it that way.
Well, that was a little more melancholy than I originally anticipated. Anyway, next time I’ll have a more enthusiastic post about my reactions to the E3 reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild! Late, I know, but better late than never. Until then!