Do It in the Dark

VoD is taking over the world, – or at least is stoking the flames of revolution in the film industry. Is there, asks Sophie Preußer, still the family that meets at 8 pm in front of the TV or the housewife that stops vacuum cleaning at noon to watch the newest episode of her Telenovela?

Listening to the people at work, on the street and reading their Facebook posts it seems like everybody is binge watching their leisure time away – whenever they want and wherever they want. Why scheduling your day according to the TV program or even leaving the house when you can watch everything in your bathtub or over a bowl of cereal in the morning? Time for honesty: On a cold, rainy day, you can find me in the bathtub with my notebook and an episode of Girlboss. But I do not get up early to watch something before work. But I know several co-workers who do.

I get it. It is convenient. No commercial breaks. And no waiting for the next episode. And then there is Monday, when everybody runs home to catch the newest episode of Game of Thrones – and is deathly afraid of spoilers the next day when they do not make it home in time.

But just like you do not start a book on the last page or a trilogy with the last part, there are thoughts behind most films; their length, their pace, their arcs of suspense. We could argue whether a movie like Fast and the Furious is a form of art. The storyline is not very complicated, it is not even very innovative, the dialogs might not strike you as deep and the acting is not Oscar-worthy. I agree. And I can understand why one would not want to watch a film like this. But if one does decide to go for it, it should be watched in a movie theatre.

Do you want to argue that it is the same watching exploding cars in your living room than in a pitch-black room on a giant screen? Yes, you would have to spend money on a film with a bad story, poorly acting and mindless dialogs, but you do not watch a film like Fast and the Furious because of things like this, but for its great special effects, car crashes choreographed like a ballet dance (you might have seen the second trailer, especially from 00:50). The story is not that important, but just look at the cars being thrown into the air.

There are many films you can easily watch while doing your laundry or cooking your dinner. But there is a something unique about going to the movies and watching a film without any distraction.

Today, in a world where we are constantly online and busy, movie theatres seem to be one of the last places on earth where nobody is upset if you do not answer your phone. You will not start looking up an actor on IMDB if you think you know him. You will not pause the film because you just remembered that you must write an email. You will just watch the film in exactly the way it was intended. To cut it short: Movie theatres offer a rare experience of undivided attention, an almost forgotten contemplative media consumption that on-demand platforms in your living room never will.

When I was younger and had to watch every series on TV, I had to wait a week for the next episode. This tension became part of the TV watching experience. Just like it does when you cannot pause a horror film when it gets too tough because you are “stuck” in a movie theatre.

Expectations are the salt for TV shows and films. I am not just talking about the tension of a single episode but of a whole series. If you change the length of a series by skipping parts or not paying attention it will change your watching experience. A break of a week until the next episode changes your expectations, your anticipation for the next episode. Just like being stuck in a movie theatre for about two hours will change your perception of a film compared with a night on the sofa where you can pause and get up whenever you want to.

I have caught myself several times breaking off a film in the middle because I had to go to bed or someone/thing interrupted me. If I got a whole night to think about a film and how it might continue instead of just a second, I tend to be disappointed. I slowed the story down so much, I just could not find the way back in. The first scenes are here to get you hooked not the ones in the middle.

Of course, sometimes the only reason for watching a series is to be able to keep up with the officer chatter. And sometimes it is not about the series itself but about the social viewing experience – or rather about the social we-are-discussing-TV-shows experience. If that is the case, be my guest. But be reminded theatres do offer a social viewing experience as well.

Even though it might look like an anonymous crowd where nobody can talk, it is still a moment of togetherness. Have you ever been to a movie that turned out to be bad? The other guests in the theatre will suffer with you. At home, we would just turn to a different show.

Just relax and let the film makers tell their stories at the pace they think suitable. Just relax and do not know where you have seen the actor before. Just make the time about the film right in front of you and not about your laundry, your job and the dinner that needs to be cooked. Do it in the movies.

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