Then The Lights Go Down…

English: The Silver Screen: Keighley Picture h...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Concessions that cost you half a weeks pay. Servings of soda so large that you find yourself pushing past small children to get to the restroom after watching Return of the King (true story, bro.) Annoying commercials for ten minutes before the main event. The THX “sound test” that makes you bleed from your ears. There are so many wee annoyances to going to the movies nowadays. Oh, let’s not forget the people who think it is a good idea to bring their seven-year old to the anniversary re-release of The Exorcist (another true story, bro.) Still, I would have it no other way.

Expenses and time have kept me from going to the theater in a while. I work mostly in non-profits these days, which means I have little money or free time. I will get myself back though, for any movie, because despite a list of aggravations longer than my arm I love the experience. I know you can watch on Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and so many other services that you can pay a fairly small amount to watch whatever you want when ever you want. Why pay thirty dollars after snacks and the tickets for a single movie when you can pay $8 to watch almost every movie ever made on your own schedule?

Well, for starters it is an entirely different experience. In a theater the lights go down, the curtains part and as the movie starts you are lost entirely in the film. You are immersed, provided people don’t bring screaming kids and turn off their cel phones. Even when they don’t the dark of the theater and the bright lights on the screen do a good job of keeping your attention. This is true for more than just your summer block busters as well. Watching Forest Whitaker on you TV or computer monitor portray Charlie Parker in Bird is moving. Watching that Clint Eastwood gem on the big screen, though, made me feel like I was living in the Bee Bop master’s shoes.

Then there is the audience. The rude, chatty, inconsiderate, and often way too slow for your liking fellow movie goers. Yeah, they can irritate, but they are part of what makes it great. For ninety to 270 minutes (wow movies can get long these days) you are a community enjoying an activity. Three hundred or more folks packed into a relatively small room forgetting their daily worries and doing so together. They don’t realize it, most of the time, but it is what it is. From the first trailer to the second stinger in the credits (yeah, movies have changed a lot too) we are one in our enjoyment and that is a beautiful thing.

So sure, I will still get most of my viewing pleasure from Netflix. It is cheap and convenient. I need, however, to get that fix of the real silver screen. I need that time in the dark when I ride on the Millenium Falcon or cry when Kevin Costner “has a catch” with his dad. Those minutes in the theater are precious to me, and I suspect precious to all of us, else the big multiplexes would have died out five years ago. It is good that they haven’t so we can all share in that thrill, joy, bittersweet pleasure, horror and good old-fashioned fun. I hope they last another couple of centuries.

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