Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
The lights go down; the whole theater gets quiet. I am in my perfect seat. Arriving early, I got the one that's in the center, but not too far back or too close to the screen. I hear buzzes and watch small screens flicker off around me as people shut down all connections to the outside world. The first studio logo fills the screen, and as I sit in silence with a group of strangers, we begin our escape from the real world. We let ourselves feel vulnerable; we experience a story.
The multiplexes and big IMAX theaters with their screens for blockbusters, explosions, and stunning visual effects are grand. I love the bustling energy of a big movie theater at a midnight premiere. Eager fans in intricate costumes wait in lines that wrap around the entire multiplex. Once inside, I feel the palpable excitement as the lights dim, and the images begin to roll on the larger than life IMAX screen. I hear other people sobbing at the death of Fred at the midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, and as I sit there, wiping tears off my 3D glasses, I know that I am not the only one who feels the connection. We are all strangers, yet we've been united by an emotional journey.
The feeling of community in the movie theater is not reserved for big franchises and midnight premieres. One of my favorite movie theaters is a small, fine arts theater from the 1950s. There are only a few screens, and they aren't huge, but it's still one of my favorites. Unlike IMAX viewers, the audience at the fine arts theater is usually older ladies and film nerds like me; we're generally quiet. I remember seeing Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom there. The theater was nearly empty except for two old ladies, my mom, and me. There weren't costumes or any midnight release excitement, but as the lights dimmed, and the movie began, it was still the same magic; we were all transported Anderson's whimsical island of New Penzance together.
There are old movie palaces where the architecture speaks to an illustrious history. Generations of moviegoers have sat in my seat, watching the history of cinema unfold on this very screen. When I saw The Amazing Spiderman at an old movie palace, the ornate details of the theater itself starkly contrasted the sleek new action movie. The contrast between the old theater and the brand new movie reminded me that although the styles and stories we tell might change, the meanings and importance that movies have will remain.
In my seat at the movie theater, I am ready to see anything, go anywhere, and be taken on a journey. I can go to a galaxy far, far away, the Wild West, New York City, the Vietnam War, and anywhere else in time and space without ever leaving my seat. I can cry, cheer, blush, and be angry at people who are not even real. When I watch a movie and I relate to a character or the story, I feel a connection to something greater than myself, like the director has reached out and grabbed me.
Some theaters are fancier than others, but in the end, they are all places for people to come together and experience stories. Movie theaters are everywhere, and every time I have moved, I've known that I have a place to go that can make me feel better.
So as the lights go up, and I see the director's name flash on the screen, people begin to clap and talk as we return to our normal lives. Whether it's an old movie palace, small arts theater, multiplex, or a massive IMAX theater, the movie theater is a place where I can go and not feel alone and experience the art of film, and I feel perfectly content.