Wednesday, 14 December 2011

My recent cinema experience

Wakefield A.B.C cinema
I took my young son to see Puss in Boots, it would have been the first time he had been in the cinema. Although a better choice of film would have been Labyrinth (Which he loves) that was screening at a roof top cinema on the same day, I thought the traditional cinema experience in an actual cinema was the best place to introduce him to the experience of movie going.

The total cost of the experience was all up $60.00 (Two tickets, 3D glasses, popcorn and bottle of water) for both of us to go and see Puss in Boots (Which turned out to be a mediocre mash of fairytale stories with weak characters and a muddled narrative), the money in the end would have been better spent on two Doctor Who DVDs which my son loves, and an evening at home watching them. However, after browsing the current films screening, it seemed the only one which was likely to please him.

We entered the cinema on time and were the only ones in it. Then began the adverts and previews which lasted a whole twenty minutes. Twenty minutes of rubbish I didn't want to see, and by that time my son was already too fidgety, wondering when Puss in Boots was going to start. I myself was almost done in twenty minutes, having had my brain pumped with commercials and trailers that were not relevant or appealing to me.

Finally the film began, and another three more people entered the cinema. Obviously they were accustomed to skipping the first twenty minutes and were wise to the ways of cinema advertising. This made me wonder if the cinemas were wise to the ways of their audience, considering their advertising was being viewed by just one disgruntled attendee.

Half way through the film my son was ready to leave, but I managed to convince him to stay until the end. He watched most of the film without his 3D glasses, and I felt he was not engaged with the characters nor the story, such as it was.

The biggest disappointment was being one of only four people in the audience. The last vestige of the cinema as an experience has been heralded as the experience of sitting with an audience and watching collectively a movie. As much as I do think that four people make an audience, it certainly doesn't have the same effect as being in a audience of say twenty or thirty.

I do think this opens up the opportunity for repertory theatre, as pointed out by Roger Ebert, and I do agree with Peter Greenaway that audiences should be smaller, about communicating with fewer but more enthusiastic viewers, rather then masses who simply hop from one screening of media to another without really giving anything back to the work. However, after this experience, the expense of that experience, and the hard hitting prolonged advertising slung my way - I think I'll save future cinema going to the independent cinemas who at least, in their architectural surroundings, often offer something special.

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