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?