Why I Love the Theater

At the beginning of the month was a pretty special movie day on May 4th. Happy Star Wars Day!! May the 4th Be With You! I was a huge Star Wars fan for a long time, though now that I think back to it, I’m not sure who it was that first showed it to me. I think I have the original trilogy on VHS somewhere.* Though I was enamored for what I would say is the better part of two decades. One very distinct memories I have was once I found a Yoda action figure which was super rare in my eyes and couldn’t decide for the longest time whether to borrow money to buy it or not (ended up getting it of course). And many, many hours reading all sorts of Star Wars novels (to this day my favourites were the Thrawn trilogy, Tales of the Mos Eisley Cantina, and Tales of the Bounty Hunters. I think it generally gave me an appreciation for storytelling and fantasy and lightsabers. Then the prequels came out…

As a fun aside, I pulled this from a friend’s facebook wall, about what order to watch all the movies in case you felt like having a Star Wars marathon. Star Wars Suggested Viewing Order. It is fantastic minus the author’s hatred for podracing. I really enjoyed podracing.

*For the children, VHS is to DVD, what cassettes are to CDs, what CDs are to iPods.

In honor of  such a special occasion, I would like to take a moment and tell you why I love movies.

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Let’s start with the basics. There is an inherent beauty in storytelling. It is central to the formation of culture and the preservation of ideals. It allows us to pass down our morals and values to future generations and pass them down in a way that is largely entertaining. Why early cultures began drawing to leave a history, then the development of pictures (which was awesome) and then finally with moving pictures(also awesome). Combine a rich oral history with moving pictures to help illustrate a story or an idea and BAM! movie.

Okay bad news first. We have so many movies now. Technology has made it very, very easy to make a movie. Anyone can do it. And we all waste a lot of time on movies. Far too much time. There is a multi-billion dollar industry that supports the creation and sale of movies. Whole careers are made for appearing in movies, writing scripts, or holding a boom microphone.** There are a lot of movies out there that don’t tell a significant story. Just garbage. Then there are movies that tell a good story badly. A lot of pressure apparently in making and editing movies. Even a whole dirty system around rating movies. We also place far too much importance on the actors and actresses and directors. That in itself created a multimillion dollar industry of media coverage and random photographers and reporters following these people every which way and even more that are set up as “legitimate” that are used to leverage these faces to push movies out to you.

**And good for them. There are something like 7 billion people in the world and there aren’t enough jobs out there. Even critics.***

On the good side, movies can tell a wonderful story, wonderfully. They can be timeless. Every time I watch Casablanca, Bergman and Bogart never grow older. The piano sounds the same, cigarettes are still smoked in that careless manner every single time, every blink and line captured and delivered as it was when made and always will be. And there is comfort to that familiarity. Like how if given a choice, students who pick their seats will likely sit in the same seat every single day of that semester. Along with that familiarity there is that tie in, that any generation, at any time of day will see the exact same thing that you see. Experience will be different obviously, but the elements will be the same, every time. It is something almost magical in quality that you can share over and over with all sorts of people.

***Okay here is my “little” rant on critics. There is too much information out there. No one person will ever know everything about everything. With the internet and various ways in which we can almost instantaneously generate information or find information or get  bombarded by information, it is no wonder we can get a bit lost when deciding on a restaurant or a movie or a pair of underpants. So we have “media mavens” people who we follow who help dictate where we shop, what we eat, and generally how we go about our lives. The important part to note is that advertisers put these people in the spotlight for us to follow. Take someone who is successful or beautiful and put them in the spotlight to push your hair product or skin product. For every different group, a host of different mavens to cater for one product or another.

Then there are critics. These people write reviews of different things so that we get an idea of them without having to actually experience them or give a general synopsis to help us, the other consumers, make a more educated decision. Now ideologically, I despise critics. Their jobs do have the ability to create an industry and launch a brand or destroy a reputation with just a couple of keystrokes. That in itself is alright if it was all in good intention and people are fairly judged. Critics are people like you or I and as such they are extremely vulnerable to bias and bribery. Many are drunk on this perverted sort of power and have some sort of ideal of self worth that comes generally with little actual information about creation themselves. My advice? Find your niche critics and use them to help you determine what to watch or eat. You should not ask an equestrian about glue the same way you should not ask Robert Butler about “big Hollywood turkeys”  the same way you would not ask a teenage girl about anything (really). I feel like inherently, you know what you’re going to like, so seek out the “mavens” and critics that cater to those ideals and you’re all set. Best summed up this way:

 

I love movies because movies can take you somewhere you have never been. Somewhere that never exists and probably will never exist. Movies will show you something unlikely, improbable, or impossible. For just a little while, anywhere from half an hour to three hours a story, you can be whisked away to someplace magical, join some wild adventure, or fall in love. If you go to the theater and you’re sitting in a packed house and the lights dim and the screen lights up with the opening credits and the hush falls over the crowd, that moment is truly special. You are all about to go on this little journey together, for better or worse.**** I even appreciate the box office. Well that’s not 100% accurate. I don’t like the sweaty teenagers or slightly older, generally more jaded employees who man the booth. I like the process, standing in a queue, looking up at the board with all the movies and corresponding times, I like the little machine that spits out tickets. I like speaking to a person through glass that is likely not a criminal. All very nice.

****With popcorn! Movie theater popcorn is one of the best foods ever. Salty and part soft, part crunchy, buttery. It is simply an indulgence, a luxury that is not quite replicated anywhere else.  

In conclusion:

So there is a big row between Big Hollywood and the Internet, ticket prices are only going up and so are concessions. Millions of dollars are lost due to pirating and illegal distribution. At the same time, box office records are falling left and right. Creative people are everywhere expressing stories in a multitude of ways using all the different mediums we have available. As for me, there are few things quite so indulgent as a couple of hours spent at the movies. We know the stories by now, we want to see actors and actresses show us something we’ve seen before performed in a way that we have never even imagined. Whether your taste in genre be different from mine or you fancy political documentaries or you frequent small art house theaters, I think collectively we can agree, the shows will go on.

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