Theatrical Reflections from a Rain-Painted Window

Rain pelts the windows of my Thameslink train as I type this. I’m on my way to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre, and if I was able to see both parts of the play before 7pm, then my review would be up today. As that isn’t happening, I thought it would be worth talking about my experiences at the cinema, and why I’m starting to prefer going to the theatre instead of seeing a film.

An obvious point to begin with is the accessibility of cinemas today. Whilst the one where I live has a few subtitled showings, living with a hearing family with their own schedules has meant seeing films without subtitles (not to mention the fact that most subtitled performances can be shown at inconvenient times of the day). From Marley and Me to Deadpool, I can still laugh and cry at what’s happening on screen, but I miss out on the plot that comes through dialogue. This is probably why it took me so long as a child to realise that TV shows were meant to be listened to as well as watched.

However, to blame it all on accessibility would be unreasonable of me. Another reason is the fact that I’ve always been a book nerd as opposed to a movie buff. Sitting in uncomfortable seats struggling to hear just didn’t appeal to me, compared to imagining the story for yourself from the comfort of your own home.

It’s become a question of time investment. Will it be worth spending two hours concentrating on this movie, trying to hear it? Will it demand my attention or will I get bored? It’s why I now have a certain criteria for a film to meet in full or in part before I decide to see it.

  1. It has received rave reviews.
  2. It contains an actor I like.
  3. It’s based off a book I like.
  4. The trailer looks good.

However, with a play, this criteria doesn’t apply, and the accessibility is better. Granted, there’s still no subtitles (unless you’re seeing a captioned performance) but the audio quality is better. Then there’s the sense of atmosphere in the theatre which can only be achieved in the cinema with a horror movie/thriller or by breaking the fourth wall.

But to revert back to the time investment point, I guess it’s something I’ve had for many years now when you consider some of the film classics I haven’t seen:

Titanic, E.T., Alien, Predator, The Shawshank Redemption, Love Actually, The Great Escape, Forrest Gump, The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Die Hard, Casablanca, 2001: A Space Oddysey, The Back to the Future trilogy, Fight Club, The Terminator, The Social Network, Psycho,  Trainspotting, Speed, Saving Private Ryan, The Shining, Guardians of the Galaxy, Schindler’s List, Jaws, Goodfellas… 

This revelation often has my friends staring in disbelief and firing me shocked or angry looks, but film isn’t really my thing. Perhaps if I have some time to see more captioned performances, this may change, but for now, I’m looking forward to Harry Potter and seeing more plays in the future.

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Thoughts on the Divergent Movie

So as my poem yesterday (click here) was about seeing a film before the book. On this occasion, it was Divergent.

Now I know reading books before films is a shameful, shameful thing to do, but the actual experience of film before book actually helped me to make a decision about reading the book.

Before I go into detail, the film overall was brilliant. It explored a variety of scenes that encapsulate different emotions. I left the cinema wanting to read the book, and a little bit blown away.

There’s always been the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” (I do), but should there also be a warning about “don’t judge a book by its film“?

If anything, when I was watching the adverts and movie trailers beforehand, as well as the actual movie, I couldn’t help but realise how cinematic the movie can be (obviously). But then I realised that books themselves have some cinematic elements to them, which would work great on film.

However, then there comes the fact that a movie offers a concise adaptation of the book, with some things missed out. This could have positive and negative impacts. The plus being that the potential of the book is emphasised in key action scenes, but the negative is that some important sub-plot scenes are missed, therefore I couldn’t possibly make a full judgement.

But nonetheless I will be reading the book. The movie was brilliant and so I shall be reading it. Now I know that I’ve spoiled the story for my imagination and for myself, but I did the same (accidentally) with Stardust and had no problems enjoying the book.

Liam