I went to see Midnight in Paris a few weeks ago. If you are a fan of literature, art and music, you’ll probably enjoy it on some levels. It’s a good movie but I wasn’t sure about it at first. On one hand, you have a Woody Allen movie which is always quirky. On the other hand, you have Owen Wilson, which usually means a pretty dumb movie. Some way, some how, it worked. I wouldn’t call it amazing, but it was definitely entertaining and interesting enough to get at the writer in me.
More importantly, to this post anyway, was that it got me thinking about the movie going experience. I headed to the theater alone (I enjoy going to the movies alone sometimes). I got my popcorn and coke and found a seat. While watching the movie I started thinking about how long people have been watching movies in the theater or in theater format, be it indoor or outdoor. I realized that my movie watching experience that June day in 2011 probably wasn’t all that different than say someone watching a movie in the early 1900s. Now, I understand that movies and the technology behind them have certainly changed. We have audio now and color and 3D and digital sound and whatever else movie producers can imagine these days. But the experience itself has to be closer to what it’s always been than most things are. You go into a theater, find a seat, often will have popcorn and sit quietly for a couple of hours. It’s understood that you don’t talk during movies, turn off the volume of your cell phone, don’t walk around too much and generally allow people to enjoy their movie with as few distractions as possible. The lights are usually out and for those peaceful (hopefully) two hours, you are involved in the story of that movie and nothing else, except maybe your popcorn.
Apparently the popcorn tradition has been around World War 1, according to some random person on Yahoo who said the learned it in history class. They said it was because it was cheap and affordable at the time and that made sense, so I’m sticking with it.
But think about it. Imagine your grandparents, great-grandparents, or just parents depending on your age. Imagine them say in 1930 or 1950 or whenever. They probably did similar things as you do. They paid for their ticket (definitely much cheaper), got their popcorn and drink, and sat down for a couple of hours taking in some movie hopefully either made them laugh or cry or just be on the edge of their seat. If we all think about it, on an ideal outing, that’s what our movie experience is like. We separate ourselves from the outside world for that small window. I think it’s kind of cool that something like watching a movie can actually just connect us with the past. That despite all the changes in the world and technology and type of movies, that we’re still doing the same things as we were 100 years ago.
I can’t think of anything else that really fits that bill. Anything you can think of?