Years ago watching a film at the cinema was an experience like no other. Sitting in a darkened room and isolated from the outside world, you used to be entertained for two hours in the most ideal conditions possible. And in reality, it is still like that; cinema has not changed.
What has changed, however, is our attitude towards film-going. No longer do we show any desire and excitement towards going out to watch a new film. Cinema has been relegated to a place people go to once in a while. Many consider film-going as an absurd concept as they cannot grasp why anyone would pay a cinema ticket when they can stay at home and watch any film they want for free on the internet.
I feel that people that think this way are really doing themselves a disservice. The reason I think this type of logic is flawed is because cinema-going offers so much more than any torrent or streaming site can.
The first of these traits which I consider to be exclusive to cinema is its immersive quality. Directors shoot their films specifically to be shown in an auditorium. Therefore they take advantage of medium they are shooting their stories on (whether its film or digital) and the capabilities of cinema auditoriums and create an immersive experience for the film-goer, one which engages them both visually and aurally. This is lost or lessened greatly when a person watches a new film at home. Whether they are seeing it on a 20 inch screen or a home theatre system, they cannot replicate what a film projector, a large screen and a professional surround sound system can do. You will not be engaged with the film as you would at the cinema.
Secondly, film-going is a unique event. There is something special about leaving the commodity of your house specifically to see a film. You think and talk about it: “will it be good?”, “how is the story going to unfold?” and so on. Basically, you feel the thrill of anticipation on your way to the cinema. In a way, it’s like attending a music concert; part of the fun is getting there. I think there’s a certain beauty in considering film-going as more than just entertainment but as an event too. This cannot be replicated when all you do to see a film is switching on your computer and waiting a few minutes until your download or stream starts.
Another defining characteristic of watching a film at the cinema is its isolation. In a world filled with more distractions than ever before, film-going provides a solution that minimises all this noise. This might just be one of the best perks of cinema. The film-goer gets secluded from the outside world and has far less distractions so he can dedicate his time only to the film being projected in front of him/her. Granted, you can still get distracted by your smartphone, but if you made the effort to go to the cinema and buy a ticket, you should be able of making an effort to switching it off too. On the other hand, at home, you are prone to get distracted, whether it is by other people, by Facebook, YouTube and so on.
Lastly, an often overlooked characteristic of film-going is its communicative power. Going to the cinema is synonymous with telling the studios that you like the films they make and as a result encourages them to start making more of such films.
So if you love the art of cinema, if you want films to be more of an experience and an event rather than just another mundane activity and if you want to see them as they are supposed to and in the best way, don’t stay at home; go to the cinema.