‘Watching a film is like having a daydream. It operates on portions of your mind that are only reached by our dreams or dramas, and there you can explore things without any responsibility of conscious ego or conscience’ – Stanley Kubrick (1971)
To put it frankly, I am a Cinemaholic – taking frequent visits to the cinematic cave once a week (three if lucky) with my occasional dose of ‘sweet/salted’ popcorn in hand, to escape the real world and explore an extended perception into new stories, projected onto a canvas. The addiction began at the age of five in 1996 with Toy Story. Upon entering the East London movie theater, there was a feeling of wonder and excitement. The size of the ten-squared metered screen was intimidating. The curtains opened and a ray of light shot onto the screen and my eyes were steadily gazed on an eighty-one minute adventure with a cowboy and space ranger that simply couldn’t get along. As the double doors opened and I exited the theatre, there was a feeling of change – a revelation. Sound familiar? What is the revelation that we have? Is it the enormous movie theatre with the surround sound? Perhaps its’ the enjoyment of sharing the moments within a film with an audience? Or is it simply that emotion’s that occur when experiencing a film? This last point is clearly an important factor. All knowledge comes from experience. In other words – this moment of revelation is knowledge.
Cinema is undoubtedly one of the greatest magic tricks to have ever been executed. The first exposure that audiences witnessed of Train Pulling into Station (Lumière brothers 1895) on the cinematograph was the perfect illusion. Not only was it an incredible allegory for cinemas arrival, audiences were struck by how real the image of a train approached them was, to the extent that they even screamed in terror. The reaction of this technological breakthrough and the ability to capture audience’s minds by transporting them into a film-world is one of the key things to cinemas success. As the technology develops, so to does the audience’s expectation for the need of something new. Today we are expanding the viewing experience even further by wearing a pair of thick-rimmed glasses to watch a 3D movie. In addition our multiplex theatres have had a significant upgrade in the form of IMAX – where the screen is twice the size of a traditional cinema. Both of these formats promise an immersive experience and the technology does live up to its words (to an extent), but looking beneath the technology and we discover the heart of movies – storytelling – the heart to our addiction. And we’re willing to pay more in order to receive more. Which is why it burns us inside when we witness an unsatisfying film that misleads or worse still insult us.
Going to the cinema used to be simple. Or did it? No matter what film you choose to watch with any particular genre, there is always an idea worth exploring as film has its own way of thinking. It delivers a variety of thoughts and emotions, which become part of our mind for however long we want them to. We understand that movies are movies but we choose to watch it as its own world. Nowadays modern blockbusters expect you to walk into a screening knowing the world before you’ve seen it on the big screen. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble assumes audiences know who Iron Man, Thor and Captain America are due to their successful solo movies and their comic book series.
Consider this notion however. If cinema is a way of perceiving an extension of minds, does this mean that the ideas presented to us potentially ‘infect’ or mislead us? Can we be so subconsciously invested within the reality of a film that we can lose sight on our morals and perceptions of reality? Propaganda films are a clear example of this, but recent horrendous events like the Colorado shootings have shown that audiences can become too immersed within the illusion of a film-world. Raising a question for our enjoyment for graphic violence in Horror/exploitation movies such as The Human Centipede. Lets not lie to our selves, we don’t want to see that in our own world but in a constructed world we can enjoy watching a projection of our deepest or brightest fantasies and desires. So with that in mind, cinema is a drug. Not the hallucinogenic kind of course, but the kind that pulls a trigger in the back of your mind, or as mentioned – a revelation. Nevertheless whatever kind of pleasure audiences get out of movies that emphasize on violence, its not so much the movie that makes them do these hellacious acts. But it’s the person who has the mind to think that this is the right thing to do.
Cinema is a universal language. Beginning as a technological breakthrough and will forever continue to be one. Filmmakers have the choice to move forward with the IMAX format or 3D, and it is their responsibility to utilize and evolve this technology to entertain audiences by telling stories. For modern moviegoers, cinema is a chance to escape the reality of their own lives to explore a world that is completely different to their own – with a load of (loud) sugary snacks to annoy others along the way as well as the infamous kick in the head from the guy sitting behind you – which of course can take us out of the experience. Cinema is the perfect setting to catch up with friends or even take that special someone on the first or third date too. From my perspective, the modern movie going experience is an unpredictable therapy session. The similarities are there: the comfortable chair, the voice that speaks to you (film) and of course the click to know everything is back to normal (when the lights fade up). A therapy session worth revisiting again in order to be entertained and discover more about ourselves and our own real world.