By Sean Greenhorn
“A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it”-Alfred Hitchcock
Cinemas are changing. The actual physical place of exhibition underwent a revolution with the emergence of the multiplex in the 70s/80s. These mammoth, populist and faceless entities directly provided an alternative to the ‘good film’ experience that Mr. Hitchcock is referring to. Catch an earlier showing (no need for the babysitter), buy some nachos, maybe a hotdog and enjoy the latest iteration of the same story (now in 3D!). When was the last time you heard someone refer to Cineworld as a ‘theatre’? These are not the place to proper engage with the stunning aesthetics or narrative mastery that film can offer. A further threat to film appreciation comes from the proposed premium Video-On-Demand, which studios are looking at as a way of countering both the flailing DVD market and piracy. On 3 November, Time Warner announced that they wish to employ this tactic very soon, with ‘Variety’ speculating huge releases (‘The Hangover 2’ and ‘The Green Lantern’) are being used to ‘make a splash’ in this new marketplace. Viewers will never have to leave the indentation in their sofa or their well stocked refrigerator. Audiences who value film on a higher level, fans of the medium who find great joy within it, now have fewer places to appreciate the art.
A way of not only creating a community of film fans but also exploring films through a deeper experience is through more immersive film events. By making the practice of film exhibitionism more of a unique one it should make it not only special but more engaging. If the correct aspects of the film are explored hidden depths can be found, layers of meaning and (importantly) enjoyment that are certainly not evident in a home viewing and would be tough to find in a large faceless multiplex. This is obviously not a radical new idea and is built upon the immersion experiences already on offer in certain locations, set up by organizations such as Future Cinema’s ‘Secret Cinema’ or Jameson’s Cult Film Club (in their own words they are ‘staged to transport our members into the film’s universe’). We can take it even further back in history, right to the start of film exhibitionism; way back in 1906 ‘Hale’s Tours’ capitalized upon the escapism that film was discovering, the cinema’s stylized like train carriages and offering viewers the chance to see ‘the colonies or any part of the world (without luggage!)’. Although I am not proposing that we immediately create these substantial events, I think slight additions to the experience go a long way. Take, for instance the GFT’s ‘Late Night Cult Classics’, one of showings of classic films on a Friday night-that alone adds atmosphere. Or merging cinema with another event; the upcoming ‘Thunder Disco’ club event at the SWG3 gallery is putting on a screening of ‘The Warriors’ beforehand. By extending the experience beyond the simply passing time with a few flickering images we can strive to deepen our enjoyment, collate our opinions, elevate the works’ meaning and (in accordance to Hitchcock’s statement) make sure that the cost of it all is well worth it.