The Cinematic Experience
What with the exorbitant price of gas and the rising prices of food—not to mention the fact that I am trying to pay for college—I find that I rent movies far more than going to a movie theater. At home, my family has a living room with surround sound, so I am able to attain some of the high quality movie theater sound. But at college, I am forced to watch movies either on my small television or on my computer. Watching movies on a computer is a completely different experience—I am constantly distracted by my roommate, people in the hallway, or the overwhelming desire to pause the movie and check out what’s new on youtube. But in a movie theater, with its dark atmosphere, enormous screen, and music blasting from the speakers, I am entirely engrossed in the film. An explosion in a film is far more effective when the floor rumbles underneath you from the sound’s vibrations—you not only see it, but you feel it.
When I watch a film in a theater, my mind and body are focused on what I am seeing, and my emotional responses are stronger as a result. For example, I grew up watching superhero cartoons like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and X-Men. Every time a superhero movie comes to theaters, I jump at the chance to go see it. When Superman Returns came out, I practically ran to the theater, and I was not disappointed. The opening credits alone were worth paying the nine dollars; the audience is taken on a roller coaster ride through the cosmos, soaring past Jupiter and Mars, flying through space. Yet, when I rented the film months later, it did not have the same effect. I didn’t feel breathless or weightless or impressed. Watching the credits on youtube, you can understand my disappointment.
Part of my enjoyment for these films comes from my childhood, but a great deal of it derives from the cinematic experience. For actions films in particular, I find that a great deal of the impact is lost on audiences when the movie is watched in a home rather than in a theater. The only down side of watching a movie in a theater—and this is a big one!—is trying to watch while people are whispering, talking loudly, or snoring (which has happened to me numerous times). Interruptions like these will take me out of the film and will irritate me.