Don’t Let Cinema Memories Be A Moment In History

October 20, 2020


So you think it will always be around, that thing you love, but currently take for granted. 

2020 has taught us this – life doesn’t come with guarantees. 

This is my love letter to Cinemas. 

And why I need everyone to understand that if we don’t support them now, they could disappear forever. 

What is your first memory at the cinema? 

Where did you first get to experience movies on a big screen? 

Who were you with? What did you watch? How did you feel? 

My mum told me about her first cinema experience. She was 4 and a half years old and her next door neighbour took her to see Mary Poppins at the Regent Theatre in Brisbane City. She remembers dressing up in her best outfit, which included a hat, and taking a bus to the city like a grown up. She was mesmerized watching all of the people hustle and bustle about the city centre, the sense of occasion as tickets were purchased, then snacks. And entering the theatre, overwhelmed by the size of the cinema and the screen. What I love about this story is how mum explains it. The richness of her memory includes the smell of the popcorn, the chocolate eclairs they ate, the red velvet seats that were so deep they made her legs stick out straight, and the overwhelming sensation of seeing something as wonderful as Mary Poppins play on the big screen. That practically perfect story enveloping her senses and transporting her to another place. She remembers a group of other children nearby who were laughing and clapping along, which gave her enough encouragement to do the same. The cinema erupts with joy – a shared experience between strangers.

Regent Theatre in Brisbane City

Memories never leave us, becoming stronger over time. They turn into feelings, embed in our DNA, a pivotal moment in our lives. 

Movies are an art form that embed memories. Movies are truly memory making magic!

Every generation experiences a moment in a cinema that will stay with them forever. 

Star Wars. Avengers. Titanic. ET. Avatar. Jurassic Park. Black Panther. Crocodile Dundee. 

Sitting in the dark with strangers watching something incredible unfold on that big screen. 

The connection that comes from sharing that story with friends, family and strangers. 

That permission from the crowd to laugh or to cry. 

Spirited Away. Toy Story. The Princess Bride. Moulin Rouge, Pulp Fiction. La La Land. The Lion King. Amelie. Arrival. Frozen. Forrest Gump. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Cinemas are a place to disconnect from the world but connect to your emotions. Where you can walk in someone else’s shoes and experience other points of views. 

Psycho. Shaun of the Dead. Back to the Future. Top Gun. The Godfather. The Departed. The Shining. The Dark Knight. Mulholland Drive. Citizen Kane.

It is an experience that I love, and am deathly afraid may disappear forever if we don’t support it right now.

So when was the last time you sat down in a darkened cinema, munched on some popcorn and lost yourself in a film?  And why haven’t you?

Sure we have streaming now and I’ve spent more time with Stan, Netflix, Amazon Prime in 2020 than I care to admit, but these don’t offer you the experience that cinema does. 

Cinema is a sensory experience. That visceral reaction to the big screen, the surround sound, that feeling of community with fellow cinemagoers, the overwhelming sensation of being a part of the film as you stare into the screen, the luxury of temporarily suspending all distractions like a tinder match, or a facebook notification, or another politician press conference.

But if lying on your bed with your laptop or sitting on your couch in front of a TV, or watching content on your iPhone is considered the best screening experience now, then stop the planet and let me off!

Streaming is not the same as being in a lux recliner chair, with food service and fancy wine or fresh popcorn and a choc top, or all of the above. There is actually no comparison, cinema is a total different experience, so don’t even argue.

COVID hasn’t discriminated, everyone has suffered in one way or another, but the arts and entertainment in particular have taken a savage beating. 

Which is crazy when you consider the mental health issues simmering away in our society. 

Immersing yourself in arts and entertainment should be an important part of any mental health plan. Being able to use our imagination to connect with our humanity allows us to suspend our stresses and anxieties. 

Art and entertainment also helps us to process trauma and I am pretty sure that for many of us, this year could be one of the most traumatic ever experienced so for this reason alone, arts and entertainment should be considered in COVID times as critical as hand washing. 

Cinema allows us to step outside our existence and connect with something else. It also allows us to connect with ourselves. Yet why aren’t we giving ourselves that opportunity anymore?

It appears we aren’t allowing ourselves to enjoy the things we used to. Things that are classified as luxury items have been stripped from our budgets as we enter a recession.

But people have sought refuge from their problems since the Great Depression in cinemas so why aren’t we appreciating this now?

The impact of our choices is having a devastating impact on our cinemas.  

The fact is, there are a lot of cinemas just weeks away from having to close their doors never to reopen, which would be incredibly devastating. 

Can you imagine? Memories of future generations won’t be made at the cinemas and the feeling of film will only be experienced from our couch. It’s like a permanent lock down.

I read a story of a young girl in the UK who has started a Go Fund Me page so that she could help keep her local cinema open. You know what would be better than that? If we all just went back to our local cinema. They are all safe, they all have health department approved COVID procedures, there is nothing to worry about. 

Why aren’t we going? The cinemas are open and ready to go in most states…(Soz Victoria… it won’t be long) Why aren’t we seeking out stories while reconnecting with our communities at our local cinemas. 

We are ignoring this special human experience and if we don’t use it, we might lose it. 

Someone told me the other day that after WW2 ended, the cinemas in Brisbane were open 24hrs a day as people wanted to go out and enjoy themselves. Every session was sold out as people congregated to connect and immerse themselves in entertainment with friends and family.  

I have been to a number of cinemas since they reopened and it is worth every cent and minute of time. To lose yourself for just a couple of hours without distractions or worries about the world around us is the best way to take time out for yourself. We talk about ‘mindfulness’ and ‘treating ourselves’ – well going to the cinemas couldn’t be a better way to do it. 

Going to the cinema is something I’ve always loved and I’ve clocked up some milestones in those foyers. The first time I was allowed to go to the movies without my parents. The first time I snuck into a M 15+ movie. My first movie star crush. My first movie date.  

Think about that first movie you ever saw, or that fond memory you have of being at the movies while growing up and make sure that the children of our future get the opportunity to experience the same things we did at the cinema. 

Let’s not lose the things we love to do because we are too scared to go back to the cinema or because we don’t think our budget can stretch to a ticket.

Please don’t let cinema memories be a moment in history never to return because of COVID.

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