I am very fond of films. They are my favourite things in the world. I once watched 509 films in one year. I own an Odeon limitless card and for a long period, I had seen every single film that came out. This is my way of showing I care about cinema. And cinemas. The worst part of lockdown for me was that I couldn’t go to the cinema and even after they re-opened, I still wasn’t entirely trusting.
But I made the trip back for Tenet, the highly anticipated Christopher Nolan film. This isn’t a review of that film, but I did enjoy it, and I honestly felt safe. I had multiple seats between me and the other audience members. I wore two masks for some reason. It was great. Everyone who said (even pre-coronavirus) that the cinema experience was dying were just categorically wrong. There’s nothing quite like watching a film in a cinema. People complain about kids being loud or people on their phone, and it’s all ridiculous. Those things are the stuff of sitcom cliché, I go to literally 40+ films per year in the cinema and those issues never arise.
The cinema experience is just better. And nothing explained it better than seeing Apocalypse Now in IMAX. I feel like not much needs to be said about how amazing Apocalypse Now is, it’s considered one of the greatest films ever made, but when you’re actually in a cinema watching it, everything great is amplified. When the helicopters rain gunfire onto a village with a 70ft screen and Ride of the Valkyries is blasting loud as a rock concert, it’s incomparable, it’s a complete extravagance, gorging yourself on audio-visual mayhem. And there are countless moments in the film like this, where the marriage of a massive screen, incredible sound, and even just the vibe of an audience all appreciating the moment makes for an experience unlike any other.
It’s easy for someone who went out and bought a projector and a sound bar at Currys/PC World to say they’ve got a home cinema experience. And I think it’s good, most of the films I watch are on a TV, wearing headphones, and it’s fine. But if you want an experience, if you want to watch a film and actually appreciate it, you have to watch it on a cinema screen. It’s among the best things known to humanity.
Whether it’s paying £60 and risking £100 parking fine to go to London for a day to watch the Dark Knight in 70mm on the BFI IMAX, or waking up at 10AM to go to the Loughborough Cineworld’s smallest screen for Teen Titans Go where you’re the only one not with a parent, it’s still incredible. It’s always worth it. It’s not just “a distraction”, not just “a place to put down your phone”, it’s not ruined or boring or “all remakes and sequels”, it is the silver screen. It is sensational, it is wonderful, it is pure magic in light and sound. There’s nothing like it. And if people don’t keep going, it’ll die. And there’s nothing sadder than that.