Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Cinema Experience


Just started a creative writing course and my first assignment was to write about somewhere that excites me.  So what else would I choose except the cinema?  Here's my piece on the wonder, the excitement, and the anticiaption of sitting in the cinema.  It made my tutor laugh, I hope all you cinema-goers will be able to relate.

Mumbling couples shuffle quickly towards the door, ticket stubs still in hand.  As we enter, the huge screen is black and the lighting is dim.  The little lights on the floor lead the way through the rows of seats, like they say will happen in an emergency on a plane.  Follow the lights to your nearest exit.  Stay low, avoid the smoke.  But there is no smoke here, no plane, and no stewardesses.  We spy seats near the middle of the cinema and aim for them. 

Just getting to the seats is always an amusing challenge.  Early birds have been sitting in their seats for some time, staring blankly at the blank screen, scoffing down popcorn and slurping on gigantic drinks that would quench the thirst of an entire African nation.  And My God the looks they can give when you dare to ask to squeeze past.  Their faces contort as they hug their oversized tub of popcorn to their chests.  They look like they are protecting a baby from a madman.  They don’t stand; they tut accusingly and move their legs to the side and grip that popcorn like it might be their last meal.  We squeeze through and take our seats, muttering apologies for our intrusion.

As we sit, the lights dim further and blackness descends on the room.  The screen lights up, the sound booms forth from strategically positioned speakers and finally the sound of crunching popcorn is subdued.  Adverts unlike those on TV fill the screen.  They are huge, cinematic, colourful, funny and sometimes breathtaking in the beautiful imagery.  Advert after advert bombards us.  It’s impossible not to listen as the music, the speech and the sounds fill the room.  The only things that can tear my eyes from the screen now are the occasional bursts of light from the seats in front of me.  As soon as someone takes their fancy phone from their pockets, the display flashes up bright white.  My eyes are drawn and I hope that this is just them putting their phone on silent for the duration of the film.

As the adverts for random products make way for the movie trailers, I rub my hands with glee.  This is sometimes the highlight of the whole experience of cinema-going.  I’ve already calculated what trailers might be on before this film, making educated guesses from the genre, the stars and the target audience.  But sometimes there is an unexpected one.  Perhaps a trailer I have yet to watch on the internet.  If the audience has not been quiet by now, this is usually the point when silence prevails.  We all sit spellbound, staring intently at the astonishing visuals on screen.  And God forbid someone comes in once the trailers have started.  Oh how the tables turn now.  As they try to squeeze past, I stare with righteous venom spitting out of my eyes.  If I had popcorn, I’d hug it close.  Who are these interlopers and why do they not own watches?

How do you feel about the modern cinema experience?  Still worth the rising price of tickets or is home cinema an investment that can change your life? What annoys, frustrates or delights you about being in the cinema?

24 comments:

  1. Awesome!!

    I would be the early bird btw!! Although I sit third row back and dead centre so not many people venture that far forward!!

    Cinema is still as great as it always has been... I am lucky in that I haven't had to pay for the experience for about a year though, so maybe that is tainting my judgement

    S

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    1. Thanks Scott, yeah cinema is awesome as ever, I'll be sure to stay out of your way, I probably sit about 2 rows behind you! I need to get some more of that 'not paying' action though!

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  2. Oh lawd, the whole 'checking their phones' thing really annoys me. Another is people cheering or girls screeching when some 'hot guy' pops up on screen. Confound these people, they cause me to miss important lines of dialogue! (Especially when the film isn't meant to be funny or an action flick - it happens in freaking drama's sometimes!)
    Having said all that, nothing beats the cinema experience. I will go alone, or with friends, but I just love sitting in a cinema. :) Great piece!!!!

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    1. Thanks Ruth! Oh yeah I had a group of girls screaming everytime Ashley Walters came on screen in Bullet Boy. When he took his top off it took tham about half an hour to settle. Yeah me too, I'd happily go by myself but fortunately I can usually convince the other half to come with me!

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  3. Funny! I enjoyed reading that. Favorite line: "slurping on gigantic drinks that would quench the thirst of an entire African nation." Absolutely hilarious!

    I think it's a common consensus that people who whip out their phones during movies are at the top of the "annoying things to do at a theater list." Between that and talking during the movie. I will admit that I've yelled "shut up" at least twice in a theater before. I try not to, but when these teeny-boppers won't stop talking and texting and giggling, and I just paid up the wazoo to see a movie, I like to enjoy it! Ha.

    I love going to the movies. Has to be one of my favorite things to do. It's good to get out of the house, watch a film on a giant screen, and eat the occasional popcorn or candy during it. Not to mention, it's fun to see a horror or comedy movie in the cinema with a lot of people in the theater - everyone's equally scared or laughing during it, which makes the experience a lot of fun. Nice job on the assignment, Pete!

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    1. Yeeeah Go Kristin!!! You shout them down! Annoying, selfish and wasting our bloody money! Yes horror and comedy are the best in cinemas! I love seeing the Final Destination movies with an audience and recently the Paranormal Activity films. You can sense the buzz, the excitement and the tension in the air. Then everyone cracks up when they get a fright or see a gory death!

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  4. Great piece. Going to the movies is an act I practice at least once a week, but the overall experience just keeps getting worse in terms of outside factors. I hate the damn phones, I hate the damn talking, I hate the damn tardiness, blah blah blah.

    But in terms of what the theater can control: I'm inexplicably annoyed when the lights don't dim after the trailers, or when the sound cuts in and out from mono to stereo, or when the screen is partly cut off. Again, blah blah blah. Nothing will ever fully deter me from going to the movies, but yeah, there is a lot that bothers me about the experience. Which is such a shame.

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    1. Oh shit yeah when they don't dim the lights! I hadn't thought of that. It's only happened to me like twice but you're sitting there and for some reason you can't get those damn lights out your head. It's like even though you're facing the screen, your eyes are filled by those lights!

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  5. Nice post, Pete! Definitely something we moviegoers can relate. I think my pet peeve is noisy people or worse, noisy popcorn!! I don't mind if it's just during the previews but once the movie starts, I just want to have a bit of peace and quiet, well as much as one can have in a public place, y'know. Overall though, I don't get too miffed about the whole experience so I still enjoy going to the cinema. I always make a point of coming early so I get the best seats, which is 3 rows from the top and dead center! :D

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    1. Thanks Ruth, yeah noisy people are the worst. I find it's only in specific films too. Might sound like a snob but generally you go to see The Artist and you get a quiet crowd. You go see Paranormal Activity and it's a different story.

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    2. Ahah, you're so right! But the worst thing is noisy kids, that's why I often drag going to Pixar movies or I just go during the time that I think kids won't be around.

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  6. My most memorable cinema experience just has to be while watching LOTR: Return Of The King. A guy's phone keep ringing and he kept answering it. After numerous people telling him to keep quiet, he actually got angry and started shouted back. People then started to throw popcorn and paper cups at him. Before a full blown fight started, the staff threw him out accompanied by a standing applause from everyone else in the hall. Amazing but true story!

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    1. Wow I'd have been absolutely livid if someone had ruined that movie for me! Good to see the cinema audience striking back. We should all be more vocal about shutting these people up!

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  7. I remember watching THE EXORCIST in the cinema and my leg shaking because I was so scared. I couldn't handle it. One of the best movie experiences ever.

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    1. I'd loved to have seen that in the cinema. I'll bet that was pretty terrifying!

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    2. I saw Battlefield Earth in the cinema on release.... man, now THAT was a terrifying experience... just not in the way you imagine..

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  8. Wait, YOU are the one who has been crawling over me to squeeze past? Next time I'm kicking you!

    Seriously though, I do find it interesting how different people seem to have different clocks for these things, and you're totally right that the tables suddenly turn when one's own interpretation of when the movie experience "starts" has passed.

    I'm an early bird, but I usually try to play it pretty cool until the trailers start. Then I snarl something awful. The worst though is when there is an empty row right in front or behind me, and then the person not only decides they have to sit in my row, but they come in and out four times before the film starts. Really? You just squeezed past me to get into the row, and now you need to squeeze past me to get back out? (And back in again after that?)

    The only thing that is worse is when the theater is obviously packed, but someone comes in late and stands in the aisles looking for a good seat, usually talking loudly to their companions about what they "want" to do. I mean, it's obvious that the only seats left are the front row neck-strainers, so why are they playing dumb like total strangers have saved them a seat in the middle of the house?

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    1. Sorry man! I try to get there for the ads but sometimes miss a few. I'm always settled for the trailers though and once I'm in that seat, I ain't moving! Yeah hate that when the latecomers take an age to find a seat. It's like just sit the f*ck down, I'm trying to watch a movie here!!!!

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  9. Hey Pete, I think other than the talkative old guy trying to verbally discuss plot points with his wife, during the film, I have one other main gripe about my local theater. They run these annoying local advertisements prior to the film. To call these spots amateurish would be an insult to amateures everywhere. Similarly, they play the same four spots over and over. I guess if I need a good used car, want to short sell my house or get my shoes resoled I will know where to go.

    good topic lol

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  10. hahaha nice one! Yeah that must suck, it's all about the big budget super creative ads!

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  11. I'm gonna say that home cinema changed my life. I used to spend a fortune going to a grimy old cinema week after week, shoved in between fat ladies who loved to talk about other films they'd seen instead of the one they were watching, and skinny film nerds who managed to continually make references to Star Wars throughout even the most sublime work of drama and ruin it.... now I just buy Blu-Ray and sit in my lovely home cinema and watch films without interruption from the gabbling masses, the overpriced tickets and the terrible junk they sell at the "candy bar" these days.

    Nice work, Pete. You've hit the nail on the head with this piece!

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    1. Thanks Rodney, now wouldn't it be awesome if they made the window between Cinema and Blu-ray release much shorter, say 2 weeks!

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  12. That was a great read, Pete! Very entertaining and something I could very much relate to. I'm usually one of those early birders scowling as someone tries to squeeze past me unsuccessfully ;)

    Think the overall cinema going experience is still something I enjoy. Though rising ticket prices, ludicrously prices snacks and often times obnoxious fellow cinema goers can make it more of a pain than a joy. Still, when the lights dim and the film starts, there's a hush that settles over the entire audience and I still get a smile out of that.

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    1. Thanks Jaina! Sorry, it seems a lot of bloggers are early birds and I've pissed you all off in the past!

      Yeah I agree it's still awesome if the audiences does hush and if the lights do actually dim! It's just a shame about the few that ruin it for the many (and the prices)!

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