I watch a lot of movies, and you probably do, as well. When it comes to the actual watching part I do have preferences. In an ideal world I would see every movie in a huge, glamorous theatre, with a well-dressed, well-behaved audience and not a single food item or cell phone. The audience would stay totally quiet, expect for laughing/gasping/screaming/whooping at the appropriate times. If the theatre features classic style inclined seating then I wouldn’t allow any tall people in unless they agreed to sit behind me. The image would be perfectly projected on 35mm or digital (for digitally shot films only) and would be constant-height so that scope films are truly the widest viewable on the screen. The sound would be THX certified and scalable to 7.1 surround. There wouldn’t be any ambient lighting whatsoever. Nobody would be allowed to enter or exit the auditorium during showtime.
THAT would be my preferred way to see a film in an ideal world. Of course, this isn’t an ideal world, and that has to be taken into account.
It seems like theatres are increasingly crappier. Audiences are more and more disrespectful. Going to the movies is often a terrible experience. But how about the home viewing experience? First of all, the distractions are there and are worse. Phone calls and door bells. Even the ability to pause is a distraction? Second, the screen size is hardly great. I’ve got a projection system and even that isn’t quite the same as seeing a movie at the cinema.
But home viewing is often preferable for exactly those reasons. It’s comfortable. You can pause a film to take a call if necessary. You can pause when you go to the washroom! You can even stop a movie in the middle and pick it up later. It’s wonderful. Full control. Which raises the question: does that put too much in the hands of the audience? Shouldn’t the audience be enveloped in the film rather than the audience controlling how the movie plays? Do movies lose effectiveness at home? Or maybe they gain more. Maybe the ability to pause and reflect a moment gives the necessary time to unwind. It’s not that difficult to do, but it’s true that human beings have a difficult time concentrating on one thing for the length of time required by a movie. Maybe movies should be at the whim of the audience.
In the end it all comes down to what the best way to watch a movie is, or whether there is such a thing at all. I know my preferred way of watching, and while I don’t necessarily think it’s the only correct way to watch, I definitely try to reach for that ideal when possible. How do you watch movies? What’s your dream movie-watching environment? Do you go out to the cinema anymore? Do you have an awesome home theatre set-up? Do you just stream movies on your computer? Let me know in the comments.