The Cinema: Why Going to the Movies Still Matters

Cameron Hines

The movie theater: the archetype for being with friends, spending money and going on dates in middle school. There’s really nothing like going to the movies: whether it is an enjoyable experience or not, it defines the way we watch movies, both figuratively and literally.

I’ll never forget the first movie I saw in theaters. That’s a lie of course; I have no idea what movie it was I saw on the silver screen first. But I do remember going to the theater often as a child. Each time I’d be full of excitement and anticipation, whether it was seeing Ratatouille, Bug’s Life, or Master of Disguise (that movie is still fantastic by the way).

The point is, movies have always and will always be important to me, and to pretty much everyone in the world. It’s not simply to see movies on the big screen; it’s to see ourselves on the big screen. We strive for validation of our existence and recognition of who we are, and we see ourselves in many of the characters being portrayed on the screen. Whether we’re white, black, gay, or straight, we want to know that Hollywood recognizes our existence.

When everyone is huddled in the dark theater, we have two things universally in common: 1.) We’re all looking in the same direction. 2.) We are all sharing an experience that makes us united. Even though we don’t know one another, even though we probably never will know the majority of the people in the theater, we all want to be entertained, but more importantly we want to dream that our lives can be full of the excitement of what’s on the screen.

Though we all want to go to the movies, it’s getting increasingly difficult: tickets in general have gotten more expensive, and with added fees for 3D and IMAX, a ticket can run more than $15. We can watch these films for free on certain websites as long as we’re willing to put up with poor quality. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant all offer instant streaming of movies. Morons seem much more frequent at movie theaters these days.

I remember when I went to see Lincoln, not one but two people in my vicinity were asleep and snoring, the couple behind me wouldn’t stop talking about the actors they thought they recognized on screen (they were almost never right), and someone had the audacity to answer their phone IN THE THEATER.

So why go to the theater when it’s expensive and can often be filled with idiots? Because more often, we are offered an experience unlike any we could enjoy at home. Think how many comedies are better because everyone in the theater is howling with laughter. Together.

The movie theater still matters because it’s one of the few places these days where we are all still able to dream of places unknown to us, and because in that moment we are all united, whether we’d like to think it or not.