Is how we consume film important?

I used to work at a movie cinema for 6 years. I loved my job – serving thousands of customers, cleaning cinemas, training staff and making friends. It was a behind the scenes view into a place that for many see as a treat. I wanted that job for a really long time. I remembered being a kid and that experience of going to the movies being so exciting and something to look forward to. The experience of such anticipation and the smells of popcorn associated fill your senses as you get to get to enjoy something new.

The screening of the ten Lumière brothers short films in 1895 changed the way people saw images forever. Moving images, displayed for public and commercial consumption amazed people around the world. The wonders of being able to capture short, non-audible and black & white were received with such wonder. As the introduction of special effects, sound recording, film scores, longer films with storylines came in the 20th century, the scope of entertainment was never the same. Film and how it could be received has been constantly evolving. The theatre was the most common at first, as seeing these moving images compared to the spectacle of a musical or a play. In the modern era, film and the demands to suit it’s advancement for a better experience for its consumers is constantly growing. From cinema to television being introduced in the 50’s, to the computer and now on demand in your pocket, how film is consumed is becoming more accessible. But does this influence our experience viewing it?

Going to the cinemas is an event. It is an occasion whether you think about it or not. You are taking yourself to embark on a narrative journey of some sort that either takes us away from reality or explores it in depth. There are also lots of connotations to the cinemas – popcorn, ice cream choc-tops, massive cups of drinks and many sweets. Of course, cinema now is more commercialised than ever and has never been bigger in terms of money being made, films being made and the quality of cinema equipment and film equipment to make the most satisfying experience for the viewer. Movies are considered as a place for dates, family outings, social occasions and sometimes, a solo self treat.

However, in a world where content is pushed out and saturated in the concept of movie franchises, there is so much film content to devour. Even the concept of home entertainment has changed, from going to borrowing videos and DVD’s from rental stores to being able to pay a monthly payment for as many films and TV shows possible of various platforms. The comfort of our own homes, we can sit in a blank entranced stare and consume whatever we want, whenever we want. The idea of a film spectacle has now only become glorified for franchise events such as Star Wars, Marvel movies and popular literature-turned-film, fanatic crazes such as Fifty Shades of Grey or Harry Potter. I can definitely understand why this happens. About three years ago, I decided I wanted my own TV. I was freshly 17 and wanted to take “the step” into my own privacy in watching content. Around this time as well, as I went to a private school with provided laptops, websites like YouTube, Netflix, etc. were all blocked from access, and it was when we hit senior school that we could finally access these sites on our own accord. Over time, the split between family content viewing and personal viewing in my own life has changed massively.

It’s these experiences you just don’t have alone at home. Sometimes a movie at home with a friend, girlfriend, boyfriend or family can be really nice and cosy. However, the cinema is a place where you can completely soak up and experience something so vivid subconsciously. I can remember times I went to the movies many years ago, and if I think hard enough I can remember things like the first time I held a girls hand, the first time I cried in a film, the first time I was truely terrified by a film. There is something so unique about going to a place, seeing a movie that is new and engaging with a story that is an isolated escape from the life we live. Regardless of a good film or a bad film, there is so much more to that experience. Next time you go, think about it and look around. You’ll see so much more.

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