An Acceptable Social Activity Where Being Actively Social Is Unacceptable.

(Generic cinema photo brought to you by EventConnect)

I would consider myself a bit of a ‘cinephile’, I absolutely love watching films whether it’s a critically-acclaimed masterpiece or something a little more left of centre.  When I was younger, going to “the movies” was an experience usually only reserved for the school holidays, and it was always a really big deal.  A whole day would be set aside to eat popcorn and sit in a darkroom with a bunch of strangers.  An acceptable social activity where being actively social is unacceptable.

But now, I rarely find myself going to see a film at places like Event or Hoyts anymore.  The fond memories of enjoying the cinema as a child have been replaced with a feeling of outrage for the amount that it costs to see a film, especially when you include the essentials like buttered cardboard bites and an ‘insta-diabetes’ sized soda.  And now with ‘torrenting’ and streaming services like Netflix being so widely accessible, it no longer seems like such an attractive social activity.

As with any undertaking any venture, there are many limitation that are considered.  In the late 1960’s the Swedish geographer Torsten Hagerstrand introduced the concept of ‘time geography’, an analysis of an individual’s movement through space and time (some reeeeeal sci-fi sounding shit right there).  Hagerstrand recognised three constraints that limit everyday activities:

Capability – The restrictions faced due to natural causes (eating, drinking, and sleeping in order to be able to function).

Coupling – Overcoming the limitations of human potential (using a car to get somewhere faster than could naturally be achieved).

Authority – The rules and regulations imposed on the individual (societal laws and protocols, like the trading hours of stores and venues).

This week’s task was to get to a cinema and see a film (I guess somewhat inherent in going to the cinema), although it was a goal that I couldn’t achieve due to a culmination of Hagerstrand’s constraints.   So I think I’d like to analyse my most recent cinema experience, Mad Max: Fury Road, while exploring both how Hagerstrand’s constraits impact actions, and talk a little about cinema/ movie-going behaviour… I think?

A couple of my mates and I had been talking about seeing the movie a few weeks before, and luckily we had settled on a night that suited each other’s agendas (Coupling).  I had a late work meeting in the city and was at the mercy of Sydney Trains (colloquially/formally known as Shitty Rail) as a means of making it back to Miranda in time to see the film (Coupling).  The scheduling/ making time part of taking a trip to the cinemas is definitely the hardest part.  You can’t exactly turn up at 2am and expect to see something (Authority).  So we had all made it on time, and luckily the tickets had been purchased online made sure that we were allowed to be there (Authority), not to mention that it was an MA15+ film and we didn’t even get asked for ID (also, Authority)… score!  But the looks of displeasure from the ‘non-online’ patrons were hilarious as we were called over to the counter before them.

The experience of seeing such a visual film as Mad Max in a cinema was not to be beaten.  The rumbling engines that vibrated the seats, the heavy metal blaring through the speaker (although, not too loud as turn ruin the viewing experience), and the vibrant colours were all things that made the $22 ticket worthwhile.  It’s one hell of an extreme movie, and I don’t think that you could feel the true intensity anywhere other than in a cinema seat.  I know this is off on a little bit of a tangent, but for me to test this theory I watched it again on my laptop while at home, and it just wasn’t the same.  The film lacked the ‘on-the-edge’ intensity I felt while at the movies.

So I guess you have to wonder what going to the cinema will be like in 10 years from now, or if it will still be such a popular social activity.  It’s an Australian past-time, but is it becoming too much of a luxury experience to be enjoy by all?  I’d definitely love to see movie theatres thriving, but I think there needs to be more work done to improve movie-going experiences while not breaking the bank.

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