So I’m continuing my adventures at my undisclosed location *cough* Atlanta *cough* and reporting my activities after they happen, as is my habit when off adventuring when I’m not making a public appearance. And one of the things I enjoy doing when on a trip is, after all the work is done, catching a late night movie. Like, at the theater, on a big screen with a comfy seat and a soda, not on your phone.
I was watching the conclusion of The Hunger Games, and I’m glad I did. The first one was OK, but the second one grabbed me in a way that no movie has since The Empire Strikes Back - not that I haven’t seen better movies, like, oh, I dunno, Mad Max: Fury Road or my favorite movie, Kiki’s Delivery Service – but I felt hooked into a series in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.
And the movie delivered something else too: big screen cinema. My buddy Jim Davies has a theory that some kinds of stories are best suited for some kinds of media, and I agree. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” would not work as a miniseries; it relies on the quick sharp punch of poetic language. Babylon 5, with its A and B endings and epic space battles would only work as series TV. The Martian movie was great, but it lacks the electric punch of that crackling opening and the games it plays with text: “Chapter 1: Log Entry SOL 6: I’m pretty much f*****.”
Each kind of medium emphasizes different elements – pure audio in radio plays; pure text in novels; an actor’s expressions in theater – and even within the medium of moving pictures, some are better suited to some stories than others. Animation emphasizes the impossible with the tools of graphic design, for example; while It’s possible to make a live action movie of Kiki’s Delivery Service – they did – but they had to work enormously hard to create the imagery that the animation made effortless, and it still doesn’t quite have the same resonance. Even within a particular type of movie, the type of imagery has its own demands. Some images work at any size, others are best left as animated gifs or vines to be played on your phone … and some demand the big screen.
Movies are about spectacle; about imagery that can fill an entire theater. And, in one spectacular moment in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, in which an enormous tidal wave of oil fills the whole screen and roars down upon our heroes, my breath was briefly taken away — followed by the thought: yes, this should appear on the silver screen.
Movies have more value – in particular, having a shared experience with unchosen strangers, but more importantly, a shared narrative experience that builds a common bond – but it was a late-night show of an end-of-run movie, and the only people in the theater were a bunch of yapping effers in the back row, so that one bit was a bit spoiled for me.
But for one brief moment – actually, for many moments – I felt movie magic through the spectacle of the silver screen.
Totally worth it.