Have you ever been to the movies and it has just been an absolute disaster and complete waste of your money? Well I for one have definitely been in this boat.
Cast your minds back to the year of 2005. At this stage I was just 10 years old and practically still the same height. It was my friends birthday and we decided to go and see a movie at the good old Montreal Theatre in my hometown of Tumut. Now when I say theater, I mean old wooden floors, wooden seats with leather black leather cushions (half of them being broken and unable to be sat on), a large stage at the front, and a roll down projector screen for the occasional movie that was shown – usually 6 months after it had come out on DVD. There was no such thing as a candy bar at the Montreal Theatre, nor was there a ticket counter. Instead there was a lady standing at the door who would put a smiley face stamp on the back of your hand after you gave her the $7.
As it was Angie’s 10th birthday, her mother took us both to the theater to see the Spongebob Squarepants movie. As Tumut was far behind the times, I had already seen the film, and owned it on DVD. Despite that I agreed to tag along anyway for Angie’s special day.
Angie chose the seats and decided to sit at the very front of the theatre. Big mistake! Firstly, no one ever sits at the front. Every frequent cinema go-er knows that the very front is possibly the worst seats in the entire room, and leaves you with a very painful neck and cramps down to the end of your spine. Secondly, the 1.5 metre tall stage was located directly in front of these seats and subsequently blocked half of the movie screen from our view.
The view from the second floor of the Montreal Theatre. Source
Taken in 2015, this photo emphasises the “behind the times” feeling the theatre Source
The movie started and the room was filled with chatter. As the Montreal Theatre wasn’t a ‘real’ cinema, no one followed the basic movie etiquette of not speaking and not using mobile phones. The constant talking and buzzing of phones didn’t help with the fact the movie volume was strangely low, and almost impossible to hear.
I vividly remember a certain part of the movie, where Spongebob and Patrick were riding in a car along a road covered in skulls. It was during this scene that the movie stopped playing, the image disappeared from the projector screen, and the only sound left in the room was the confused murmurs of the audience. The crowd became angry, and people began to yell abuse at the projectionist and throw lollies and drinks around the theatre. People began to stand up and leave, yelling in frustration and exclaiming they has wasted their money.
Angie’s mum ensured us it would be fine, so we sat patiently like the well-behaved 10-year-olds we were, and waited for the issue to be resolved. It was a good 10 minutes before the movie began to play again, and a collective cheer from the audience signified the resolution of the problem. The chatter still continued once again making it difficult to hear the movie. For someone who hadn’t seen the movie before, this would be an absolute nightmare.
My memory about cinema attendance made me reflect on Hagerstrand’s three constraints of capability, coupling and authority.
Capability: Being of such a young age, Angie and I obviously weren’t able to make our own way to the cinema (nor were we allowed to go there by ourselves). This constraint meant that it was up to Angie’s mum to drive us to the cinema in her car, Angie and I sitting in the back eager to see the movie.
Coupling: Being the only cinema in Tumut, the Montreal Theatre was the choice we made to make. Considering the movie was only showing at one time during the day, it was even more important that arrived on time. This constraint made it difficult to see the film if other commitments stood in the way. It also meant that some of Angie’s other friends were unable to make it.
Authority: As Angie and I were only 10-years-old at the time, her mum accompanied us to the movie as we were to young to be left un-supervised. Our age also meant that we did not have money to pay for ourselves, meaning Angie’s mum had to pay for our tickets. Not that I complained about that.
It is not until now that the constraints associated with attending the cinema have become so apparent to me. These days it is far easier to just log into Netflix and watch a movie in the comfort of your own home. But as a young 10-year-old, going to the movies was an experience that you couldn’t get anywhere else. I still believe that to this day. Despite the constraints associated with screening times, cinema locations and movie selections, going to the cinema is an experience that isn’t comparable to something like watching Netflix in your lounge room. Aside from the (often really frustrating) constraints, going to the cinema is an adventure I will always say yes to.
Until next time,