I went to the cinema this morning, or as we used to call it “the pictures”. I love going to the pictures on a Sunday morning. On Sunday mornings you get to experience cinema the way it should be. There are usually not many people in and sometimes there is no one else. Those that come don’t seem to have a need for popcorn and buckets of ice. Well, it’s Sunday and they have probably had a full English or at least a bacon butty. No talking. No phones. Just me in the middle of the theatre. Bliss.
I do love going to the pictures. I watch stuff at home but no matter how big your flat screen nothing beats going to the cinema. There is something magical about going to the cinema or, at least, there should be. Long gone are the days of projectionists and cinema staff who work there because of their love of film. Now it’s all multiplex chains and staff on minimum wage and minimum interest. Even so, once in your seat the cinema should be magic. Back in the 50s there were cinemas everywhere in the country, in villages and in
towns, thousands of them. They were dream palaces, places of escape. Those built in the early part of the 1900s were architecturally beautiful too (Don’t get me started about the Bradford Odeon
. That would be a whole series of blogs) to reflect the idea that inside you really could live your dreams.
When the “Coming Soon” section rolls you decide which films you want to see but, more importantly, which you would want to see at the pictures. Rom-coms and courtroom dramas are fine but I can watch those at home. There are some films that you just have to see on the big screen. That’s what they were made for. Keep your 52” plasma and your Blu-Ray. Some films just need that huge screen and that rumbling sound that you feel in your chest.
When I am sitting there and the music swells I can feel hundreds of cinema memories rise up in me like a wave. It’s like they are all connected and want this new experience to be part of that collective swell of memory. We all remember movies but it’s more than that, it’s memories of being at the cinema.
One of my earliest cinema memories was of going to see Bambi. I must only have been about 4 and don’t recall much of the film but I do remember the strange feeling of emerging from the dark of a long since demolished picture house, blinking into a sunny afternoon in Bradford town centre. I remember vividly being taken, one wet Welsh holiday, to see Zulu. I would have been 5 or 6 at the most. I remember the feeling as the Zulu warriors lined the hills above Rourke’s Drift and began beating their shields with their spears. The size and sound of that moment left a lasting impression.
I became a regular and avid cinema goer and have many great memories. I saw Jaws three times in one week. I saw Star Wars at the Bradford Odeon who made it a spectacle buy providing a pre-film lightshow (this was amazing after having queued around the block). I recall clearly the time we walked 4 abreast along the pavement to get to the end of the long queue for Ghostbusters and how I managed to walk groin first into some barriers along the kerbside much to the enjoyment of the queue. I remember the thrill of seeing my first AA movie (you had to be 14 to get in), The Incredible Melting Man. Not a spectacular film but a good memory. My first X rated movie was The Brood which was a fairly rubbish schlocky horror film about "psychoplasmics" but the memory of actually getting in the cinema to see it remains a strong one.
I recall stealing my eldest niece when she was just a little girl because my friends and I wanted to see Jungle Book. This was in the days before Disney released everything on video and we were under the impression that you needed a child in order to be admitted to see a children's movie.
This weekend I managed to squeeze in 2 cinema visits. I saw Sightseers
yesterday, a very black comedy about caravaning serial killers and then today I saw Rise of the Guardians
, a kids, animated Christmas movie featuring Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny. Two more different films you could not imagine but the feeling of being completely immersed in a story, being so mesmerised that the numbness of your bum cheeks isn't an issue, that's what going to the cinema is all about for me.
So, I love going to the cinema. There are some films that you just have to see in the way they were intended and there are films that I have seen at the cinema that I would not have seen to the end if I had been watching them at home. The Dark Knight Rises is one such film. I probably wouldn't have made it much beyond halfway had I watched it at home but in the cinema I watched it to the end out of respect for fellow cinema goers. In a way I was lucky as the last 10 minutes were the best bit of the whole film.
People have big TVs and home cinema kits but for me it just doesn't do the job. For me it has to be the cinema for some films. I'll keep playing the lottery because if I won my dream would be to buy an old cinema and restore it to the way it should have been kept.
I know it's comfy watching at home but don't let cinemas die. Nothing beats seeing a great movie in a good cinema.