Falling out of love with movies

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By: Sherry Lu <slu@hilite.org>

Walking into the theatre at the age of 7, I was bubbling with excitement to see my very first movie. The film was “Flubber”; I remember my eyes being glued to the large screen, enchanted by Robin Williams playing a mad scientist and a green ball bouncing around throughout the movie. I lost myself in this fun, make-believe world. Yet for most of us as we grow older, our enthrallment with movies begins to die.

Believe it or not, there was actually a time when going to watch a movie was not only a form of entertainment but an experience in itself. From the era of silent films to the inception of high definition digital movies, films have been an iconic part of American culture since the early 1900s. When the first moviegoers filed in to see Charlie Chaplin sing and dance during “City Lights,” they were able to take in not only the movie but the entire experience of going to a theatre, seeing a film come alive on a larger than life screen and maybe, even for a second, escape to a world beyond their imaginations. That was the whole point and the magic within movies that has captured the attention of people for decades.

However, in the 21st century, many of us have lost that sense of magic when it comes to watching movies. Not many us leave the theater feeling much different than before we entered.

Often, going to see a movie has become a last ditch resort when there is nothing else better to do. Few films leave an impression anymore, and let’s face it, many of us watch so many movies that they all pretty much become one big blur.

For the most part, the loss of movie magic is driven by the inherent nature of our modern world. We have become an extremely fast-paced society. Whether it is in utilizing the computer, the Internet or any other new technologies, we are constantly looking for the next best thing to make our lives easier, quicker and better.

Unfortunately, movies have not escaped this scrutiny and search. Over the past few years, there have been new forms of technology developed that allow people to access a whole plethora of movies easier and faster. With just a call or a click of a mouse, movies on demand, streaming videos or downloads let people watch movies anytime and anywhere.

Piracy has also become an unfortunate but inevitable by-product of this growing trend toward more simplified ways of acquiring and watching movies. Some people even take cameras into the theatre, film the entire movie and then upload these “cam” versions of movies onto streaming video Web sites like youtube.com or veoh.com.

They can also upload these movie files as “torrents” so that people from all over the world are able to download them with just a torrent client and the click of the mouse. Although, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has attempted to crack down on illegal downloads, the problem is too large for any one organization to effectively control. Every year, the entertainment industry loses millions of dollars to piracy. Through these illegal methods, people are able to watch hundreds upon hundreds of movies some that are still in theaters, free of charge and without even leaving their homes. However, it is not about the technology but the impact of that this growing underground market has on us, the consumers.

Undoubtedly, the advantages that the new methods of watching movies give us are very tempting. With streaming or downloading movies, we no longer have to go through a process of looking up movie times, getting dressed, driving to the nearest theater and shelling out nine dollars for a potentially awful film. This way, it cuts out the pre-movie hassles and if it is a bad movie, there is no lingering regret over wasted money. Also it gives us power over the movie. If it is bad, we can just turn it off. If we want to watch another portion, there are the fast forward and rewind buttons.

However, the people who choose to completely neglect watching movies in the theatre are undoubtedly losing out. The experience of watching a film on a 15-inch computer screen is inevitably different than seeing the same film on a 20-foot high definition screen, surrounded by digital sound produced by speakers flanking all sides of the theatre.

A movie is much more than just pictures and sounds; it is the entirety of the theatre experience that should be considered. The sound effects and high picture quality are lost when you see a movie on a smaller screen. Imagine watching “Star Wars” or “Beowulf” on your computer screen.
The visual and sound intensity of movies like those evokes powerful emotions when seen at the theatre but when compressed into a smaller screen on a smaller scale, these same effects might become almost comical and be interpreted as extremely fake.

Most importantly, whether it is by yourself or with friends and family, when you go the movies, it is a chance to get away from the world, be able to completely focus on the film, and for a few hours escape to an imaginative place created for us by directors and actors. Sherry Lu is the student section editor for the HiLite. Contact her at slu@hilite.

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