Monday, July 11, 2011

In Praise of Movie Theatres

I've a piece in today's Canberra Times, 'Cinema puts us all on the same stage'.

Doomsayers often foretell the end of cinemas - killed by video tapes, DVDs, Blu-Ray, iTunes, and the like.  But it's still one of Australia's favourite pastimes.

So I'm celebrating the humble movie theatre.  A sample:
Despite all the annoyances of loud chewing, nattering or body odour, the cinema offers a communion of sorts. Television gives millions of viewers simultaneous new and stories (and advertisements). But they do so privately – each in their home, disconnected. At the flicks, we have hundreds of bodies, all sharing the same story, in the same time and place. We laugh and cry together. We ‘tsk, tsk’ or cheer together.

If this lacks the political, moral and existential sophistication of Athenian tragedy – which was subsidised by the state – it is still a public performance. Even in the dark, we are on display, alongside the actors. At its best, this is more than vapid amusement – it is training in common humanity: learning how and when to feel, and doing it where others can witness us. At the cinema, we own up to our emotions.
(Photo: Fernando de Sousa)

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