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I've spent more time going to movies in the past month than I have in years. The reason is simple - I've wanted to see films that cannot have justice paid to them on TV screens.
The first was Captain and commander, which won a couple of awards for sound and one award for direction. Only a theater could produce the sound of cannon and storm.
The second was the third in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which also would have suffered from loss of impact if seen in my living room.
The third, and last, was Hidalgo, the story of a cowboy and his Mustang horse competing in the great Arabian desert race, an event thousands of years old. The desert vistas definitely needed the big screen scape.
Until one is sitting in the dark and the movie starts, the thrill of going to the movies has been lost. Just entering the great movie palaces of my childhood was mind boggling. It was like being entertained at Versailles or the Alhambra.
Even the small theaters were better than today's multiplex places, where even the refreshment counters are garish and unwelcoming. Lighting is very important in movie houses. The minute you're through the street doors, it should be subdued lights and thick carpets, and the candy counter quiet and pleasant. You're about to make the transition from reality to the wonderful world of make believe.
There was a time when the mood was set before the movie began. Sitting in a quiet space with the atmosphere subdued, helps you switch from one world to the next.
Today, the semi-darkness is still there. If you're claustrophobic, the experience of walking in one of the narrow spaces where you'll be seeing the flic can produce pure panic. I know, because I am, and I do.
If you're late, and the movie has already started, it's pretty scary. You can't see where available seats are, and the old fashioned movie usher with helpful hand and more helpful flashlight, are things of the past.
The aisles are slanted, of course. If you're night blind and using a walker with wheels, like me, the whole affair is like a ride in Disney World. You're going downhill in total darkness at what seems like a breakneck speed. If the movie is action packed with appropriate music, the effect is terrifying.
This is what happened when I went to see Lord of the Rings. by the time a seat was found, we were so far down front I could see Gandalf's tonsils. It didn't matter - I was so glad to be plopped in a seat I would have sat behind him.
The new seats are great because you can see over the row ahead. The maneuver when you get into one is a bit of a jolt if you're not expecting it. I thought, "Oh no, after all the hassle getting here, I'm going to eject out and onto the floor."
The biggest shock of all is checking your wallet after returning home and discovering how much the movie trip has cost you. I have learned the hard way, to avoid the refreshment counter. A box of Raisinettes, two dollars? Weren't they once fifty cents? Heck, I can remember when they were a dime.
These days, if a man takes a woman to the movies on a date, especially if he treats her to popcorn and soda, it costs as much as a film plus dinner with dessert and a tip did in my dating days. No wonder when today's young people go to see a flic, they go in groups with everyone paying his or her own way.
Thank heavens for being able to see non-epic movies in my living room. If Errol Flynn were alive and filming today, I would be in the poor house.
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