Last night’s tragic events in Aurora, Colorado are pretty much beyond my comprehension, let alone within my ability to speak to them. All I can really express are my condolences for the victims and the families of those killed.
There really isn’t anything else to say about what happened, but I have heard some people online and in person express concerns about going to the theatre. Such an incident creates fear. It reveals what we all have generally considered a safe haven for entertainment and escapism is just as prone to the sharp and horrific burst of reality as anywhere else. But that doesn’t mean we should be fearful. It doesn’t mean we should stop living our lives. A movie theatre is a magical place, and none of that is lost, even in the light of such tragedy.
And so I’d like to be positive. I’d like to remind myself why we shouldn’t have fear. I’d like to express why I love going to the movies.
A movie theatre is a transporting place. It’s not just a box in the middle of the living room, but a big window to another world. That world can take an infinite number of forms, from the dimly real to the outright fantastical. We walk into the cinema and sit down and let that large screen take us away.
A movie theatre is a communal space. It’s a space we share with those around us, friend or stranger. We gaze upon the work of art unspooling before our eyes and in that moment we share the experience with each other. We are emoting and expressing and living together.
A movie theatre is a place of comfort. It’s a home away from home where we don’t need to worry. There’s no need to fiddle about with home amenities. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
A movie theatre is a crucible of distraction and annoyance. Just as we share our experiences with each other, we also share our worse quality. The mess, the talking, the cell phones. These are on the one hand bad things, but they remind us of each other. Just as the subtle scratches on a piece of projected celluloid can be a comfort, so can the flaws of the people around us. I’d sooner be in a full movie theatre with a couple of annoying patrons but the audience being mostly as one, than sit alone in a dark auditorium with nobody to share my experience.
A movie theatre is where the dreams of others are projected, larger than life, before us. The dreams of people come to life, becoming mythic and important.
A movie theatre is where we are confronted and challenged. There is no pause. You can walk out, but most don’t. When you sit down, allow the movie to take control as it only ever can in the cinema, you can’t turn away. You’re vulnerable to the ideas and emotions of the film. It’s not always easy or pleasant, but even when it’s bad, the result is always growth.
A movie theatre shows us the world. Not necessarily the real world, but the world outside our bubble. We meet people and visit places that we might never otherwise see for ourselves.
A movie theatre, in all senses, is a place where people come together, to speak to each other and shape each other and love and hate and cherish each other. It’s as important to the soul as it is to the culture. It’s humanity flickering on a screen, talking to us all, and all at once.
That’s why I love movie theatres.