One of the things I miss about not going to the cinema so much these days is the memories that goes with seeing a great movie. Its not the same when its just putting a disc in a player and ejecting it when the film is over. The actual viewing experience can be the same, or even superior, considering how many morons frequent cinemas these days and how good HD transfers look on a quality screens at home. But I do miss the stuff that surrounds a cinema experience, the memories that stick around. Its not quite the same when it involves the postie delivering a film and you sitting down to watch it on an evening like any other.
For instance, I remember watching COCOON on an autumnal Sunday in town- I enjoyed the film and in particular the James Horner score (I was a big Horner fan back then), but as we walked across town afterwards to catch the bus home, we were fascinated by the silver crescent moon in the sky above us, wintry clouds scudding across it. The moon was such an iconic image in the film and it’s fine poster-art, it seemed like a real-life echo of the movie. As if the film experience was bleeding into reality. It was weird, and something that I always recall when seeing a crescent moon.
One of my strangest moments was with THE ABYSS. I saw it on a Saturday afternoon in high summer, on a glorious sunny day. I’d actually been in town that morning and bought the soundtrack in advance (I used to do daft things like that back then). I remember it being a fine hot day, picked up my friends and drove over to the local multiplex. Now, I really loved THE ABYSS, even its theatrical cut. It was such an authentic experience, the dark dank wetness of the thing, you know? It was like being there, down in the deep cold depths. How bewildering it seemed, then, walking back out to the car-park afterwards, out into the bright, warm sunshine. It was like some kind of shock, a bewildering return to reality. I remember how disconcerting it seemed at the time. When I went to watch film again the next week, I went on an evening, and it seemed less alarming walking out into a cool dark night, it just felt right.
And of course there was BLADE RUNNER, with the feeling that I had somehow truly been to 2019 (how distant that date seemed back in 1982!). It remains my most intense cinema experience. I was walking around for days, weeks, months looking at the world with new eyes, seeing the slivers of Ridley’s future world in my reality, something that has carried on to this day. We are living in so much of that 2019 now. But back in that September early evening the world of 1982 was the one that didn’t feel real, I felt I’d left the real world behind in that ABC cinema. Maybe all these intervening years have been a slow return to that reality. We’ll never really quite get there, alas (flying cars!).
And then there’s the emotional ‘buzz’ that follows a great movie- I remember walking out of SUPERMAN 2 with John William’s fanfare ringing in my ears feeling like I could fly. Then coming back down to reality with such a bump. It was, after all, only a movie, the world didn’t have a Superman, and I couldn’t really fly.
Thats the magic of trips to the cinema that generations of filmgoers have experienced, an escape from their own humdrum reality, whether it be GONE WITH THE WIND or BEN HUR or STAR WARS or AVATAR. We’ve all walked out with the films and their ‘realities’ lingering in our heads. You might get something like that watching a film on disc at home, but not so intense a feeling as from the cinema experience. Mind, there’s plenty wrong with the cinema experience too- I much prefer watching films at home these days, but I accept the related memories just aren’t the same now.