Do you remember your first? Movie, I mean! I do. It was the musical Oliver. I don’t remember much of the movie from then, but I do remember it was at the movie theater outside the South Shore Mall, in Bayshore, NY, I was with my Mom, and it cemented my love for movies and, I suppose, musicals. I was three years old, when I saw it, and literally all I’ve retained about the experience was being with my Mom in the kind of theater you don’t find much anymore, and being taken away to not so jolly Old England.
Nine years later, I went to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind with my Dad. It was one of the few times I remember he and I doing anything together without my Mom or sister. I remember that much more vividly. It may have been a couple of weeks after it opened, but there was a line and the theater was packed. Everyone was excited to see this tale of aliens and abductions (sans he anal probes). There was a community spirit to the theater, and I recall sitting in awe, and jaw firmly placed in a soda and popcorn spill at my feet. My father was interested in UFO’s, and had a collection of paperbacks about various sightings, as well as Project: Blue Book.
Then there were the Sunday afternoon movies, the Chiller program which usually featured an old Vincent Price Movie, or a classic (and often as not, not so classic), Hammer movie. We would sit in the TV room, watching together as a family, with our poodle, Frenchie spoiling the air with noxious farts.
I saw Airplane with my Dad at the drive-in when that was released in 1980. My Mom was on a trip to AZ to visit her sister and again it was me and Pops.
If you’re sensing a theme, then you’re right there with me. Movies, for me, have been as much about the shared experience, as it was about the movie itself. Think about it: one of the most popular things to do on a date, is go to the movies. At the water cooler on Monday what do we talk about? The movies we saw, rented, or streamed over the weekend.
At its essence, movies are the flickering campfires around which we gather to hear the tales of love, sorrow, betrayal, humor, and redemption. We connect with those visceral emotions and then want to connect to with others to share the experience. I cried with family during Kramer vs Versus Kramer, was scared silly with a friend during Misery and grabbed his hand, and shared my disgust at wasting two hours of my life after seeing Attack of the Clones.
The grand old cinemas were town down, bulldozed, and boarded up to make way for cineplexes. In the early days of these abominations, they were nothing more than small auditoriums, with crap sound, and projectors that should have been retired when color movies came into vogue. Yet, the comradarie we share in discussing film, agreeing, or arguing vehemently, hasn’t waned.
It’s changed, as all things have, but not the communal aspect. From my early days on the BBS’s, then the online services like Compuserve, Prodigy, and the fallen juggernaut AOL, movie boards were some of the first places to be created (after porn I suppose). As the internet began to weave its way into the fabric of society, so did the way we talk about the celluloid treasures. We could now see short clips, and talk in real time thanks to IRC. As the century turned, so did how we view movies. Gone were the overpriced pieces of video plastic (I paid almost 90 bucks for Heathers!), and in were DVD’s, then Blu Rays, and now streaming.
And still we talk. Not only o we talk, we tweet, we post, we Facebook, we talk back. Movies may change form-from film to digital: the way we consume it, may also change, but the one thing that will never change is talking about them.