We’re all susceptible to societal changes in this ever-evolving technological age. We live in a world where “Want it? Have it!” mentality feeds our appetites at the touch of a button. Gone are the days of camping out for the new album release, or leaving the house to rent a movie. Why would you do either when there’s a shopping aisle in your pocket? We once kept proud collections on our bookshelves, but now we window shop streamable products, sat waiting regimentally for your next thumb-ID to purchase.
Of course I embrace the environment around me. I’m sat here listening to Spotify having just finished a full television series on Netflix, and I’m now debating which image to borrow from the web to front this article. But while I watch broadcast television fight off boxset mania, while online streaming slowly kills my seemingly worthless CD collection, and although the murky file-based clouds continue to gather over the entertainment and arts industries… I refuse to turn my back on cinema.
With smartphones, portable devices, and ever-evolving television services – why would you bother leaving the house to see a movie? Why make time for the film now, if in three months’ time you can watch it where you like, when you like? You might be a microwave popcorn guru and or find other people annoying – so why risk having your seat kicked by a child munching sweets like a paper shredder?
Because quite simply, none of the alternatives compare. There is an undeniable charm to the ‘big screen’ that I believe is truly irreplaceable in a world of pocket-possibility. As an ex-film student, in a camera-wielding profession, my bias is unsurprising. But these dark rooms are havens for the cinematic medium, and you don’t need to know who George Méliès is to agree.
You always arrive in anticipation; although you’ve been here before, you know this will be a fresh new experience. This isn’t something you could see on Amazon prime (although you probably checked), so you’ve paid money for the big show. You have one-time tickets for the real deal, as the film’s creators intended. Once sat down, refreshments stored like combat weapons, you await the launch. As the lights dim, the speakers sneak up and take hold of you like a seatbelt. Your senses heighten as the bright screen cuts through the tunnel of darkness, isolating you and your viewing compatriots. As if hypnotised, you submit your unwavering attention to the letterbox shaped portal, fixed on the events unfolding before you. Before you know it, you become a passenger to the narrative.
But let’s not forget, this is rarely a solitary experience – cinema is a social phenomenon. The collective gasps throughout a suspenseful horror, the communal warmth during a satisfying rom-com, and the mutual seat-trapping emotions inflicted by a delicately emotional finale – all these moments contribute to your own impression of the film. Your time is uninterrupted (bladder permitting) and therefore the art is respected in its fullest form.
No consumer device is a match for the film theatre. You don’t have to wait for the film to download. Nor does it cut out when your internet connection dips. And while you’re there, you don’t need to respond to that poo emoji. You respect the film by attending the screening, and by submitting to this experience you can submerge yourself in this alternative world before you.
My adoration for the cinema is shared by many the world over, but perhaps not always so passionately. The creation of moving pictures didn’t just remanufacture escapism, it brought us closer to true immersion. Maintaining your complete attention through visual entertainment, whilst making an event of itself all the same. I know the film industry cannot escape the threat of developing VR technology, but for now at least, the feeling you get at the cinema is irreplaceable, and that’s what defines its beauty for me.
Oh, and the title? I think it’s time you watched Casablanca.