Monday, 14 December 2015

Lets all go to the lobby to get ourselves a treat...

I used to go to the cinema a lot as a youngster, largely because we had a single screen local cinema in my home town, in fact it was so close it was pretty much a brisk five minute walk from my front door. The prices were quiet cheap when I was young and they never really went up even up till the day it shut its door. They had a little counter from which you brought your ticket and then the cinema itself was up a flight of stairs, a flight of stairs which often had the usual coming soon posters either side of the wall. Yeah they sold sweets in the lobby but we would always take our own sweets and drinks brought from the corner shop across the road from me. There would be adverts before the film then there would be the cinema related adverts the ones with dancing tubs of popcorn reminding you that you could always go down to the lobby to get yourself a treat. Then the lights would dim and you would watch the first half of the film.

When the film was halfway through then the lights would come up a little and they would play that old music off the cornetto add, the Italian sounding one and a usually oldish Lady would make her way down the aisle with a torch and a large box tray that hung from her neck. You would make your way down to her and you pretty much had two options you could have a cornetto or you could get yourself a small tub of vanilla ice cream with a mini plastic spoon. There was also time for a quick run to the toilet for a wee, and maybe five minutes to stand out in the corridor and turn to your friend and give some brief commentary on the film so far, usually about how good or how crap it had been up until that point, sometimes you would try to guess what was going to happen next or you would sort of straighten out what had happened in your mind. Then after this you would find your seat, the lights would dim again and then you would watch the second half of the film.

I actually miss that intermission. For one the lack of it means if I need to pee, I now need to either hold it to the point that upon the moment of the film ending I am now running to the toilet like a man possessed, followed by me peeing like a fire hydrant that has sprung a vicious leak or I need to wait for what seems like the dullest most boring bit of the film were I can guess and hope that nothing of any real merit will happen in the time it takes to creep out of my chair, and then bolt to the toilet and back. Also there is no way I am leaving a film I have paid for to give the cinema more of my money for its sticky treats, whatever I have taken in to the show will have to be enough, it’s as simple as that. The real truth of why I miss the intermission falls down to the way it breaks up some films. I would seriously argue that some films simply seem to be a much better viewing experience when there has been a pause in the middle of them, a chance for your mind to absorb everything that has happened so far, a chance to be left for a few brief moments to think about everything you have seen and the emotions you have felt upon viewing it.

I have seen certain people argue that an intermission breaks the flow of the film and that the desire for one is just a symptom of ever decreasing attention spans and although I feel that these people are entitled to their opinions with the existence of long ‘’epic movies’’ I feel that an intermission is needed even more so now than it once was in order to allow the viewer to catch their breath.

Some would think that with the ever increasing quality and size of home televisions and the ability to pause the film at will that the cinema would be becoming almost obsolete and yet according to figures Cinema attendance in the UK is currently at the highest it has been in the last 7 years. Yet I can’t help but think that the intermission has been abandoned and in its place we have a copious amount of trailers and adverts before the movie, it has become less about trying to help us enjoy and process the movies we want to see and more about gaining extra money through add revenue while trying to have the maximum number of screenings per day for max profit. There is more to it than this though. When I was young the most you could hope for from a lobby was some popcorn of a bag of sweeties, with the option for a cornetto or tub of ice-cream in the middle. Now you can get various different sizes of pop or any number of fancy combinations of designer label ice-cream treats, you can get hot dogs, or nachos dripping in various sauces, popcorn and picker mix sweets. When I was young we would sneak our corner shop treats in but nowadays you can watch people cue in there droves to spend what must amount to a small fortune on the various treats supplied. Maybe with the death of the intermission there has been a birth in the event of the cinema visit, maybe it’s less about the movie and more about the experience but is this a good thing?

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