Undeniably, my friend and I were excited to plan a day at the cinema after lockdown restrictions were lifted. We squealed when we booked the tickets, and as we took the tram to the Vue at the Printworks, we were nearly jumping out of our seats.
However, despite our excitement, I was not prepared for the overflow of emotion that flooded my body when I finally stepped within the doors of the cinema. I had been deprived of the cinema for so long that I had forgotten how much I loved everything about it. I loved examining the lit up posters and advertisements, standing in the long concession line, listening to stranger’s enthusiastic conversations, and the smell of popcorn and sweets.
My excitement reached even new heights when I entered the dark viewing room and sat down in my seat. ‘This is the best part,’ I thought to myself. I know it’s crazy, but when I’m in the cinema, I feel like the whole world stops. Nothing exists except me and the movie. The people beside me slowly fade away, and I’m engrossed in something larger than life. The cinema has always overwhelmed me, in the best way.
Still, twenty minutes into watching Cruella, I was shocked to feel tears streaming down my face. The movie was not sad in the least, I had no real reason to cry. I realised that I was just so thankful to be back in the cinema that I was crying tears of joy. The last film I saw in theaters was Parasite in February 2020; that meant it had been over a year since I had sat in a cinema. Although Cruella was indeed a fabulous movie, it was not the cause of my tears. I was simply overwhelmed by the movie theater itself — the blaring music, the acting performances, the bright lights, the quiet strangers, and the inimitable magic of the big screen. I had missed this feeling.
After my little outburst of emotion – relief, gratefulness, overwhelmedness – the rest of the movie went wonderfully. Emma Stone and Emma Thompson gave amazing performances, I loved the fashion choices, and I chuckled at all the one-liners (even the cheesy ones). My friend and I had a rollicking good time.
Later, as I was thinking back on my Cruella watching experience, I started pondering the importance of the cinema itself. Would I love La La Land or Rocketman so much if I hadn’t seen them on the big screen? If I hadn’t had that almost spiritual feeling where I sat in the dark and felt transported to big cities with sparkling lights? My favorite cinema viewing experiences and my favorite movies are inextricably linked. For instance, I will always remember the walk to the car after La La Land. I wanted nothing more than to run away from the sunny, corporeal Oregon parking lot and return back to the cinematic LA musical world I was not yet ready to abandon. That yearning to leave the real world and escape back into the enchantment of a movie is one I hope everyone has experienced.
There is nothing like the cinema. I will never take it for granted again, I promise. If you haven’t gone back to the cinema since Covid, take this as a sign to go book some tickets. You won’t regret it.
Image: byronv2 via Flickr