I’ve been around for nearly 28 years now and I couldn’t be enjoying myself more. Strictly from an entertainment aspect, my life has included witnessing the evolution of the home computer and the internet. I’m now living at a point where I can have almost any movie, song or book at my fingertips any time I want it. It’s pretty great, but sometimes I’d like to take things backwards a bit. Not for nostalgia’s sake, but to get that full experience.
Cinema is the perfect example. I love watching movies in the theater, to the point that I’ll see a bad movie if it means I get the experience. Occasionally I get to see a good movie, and very rarely, I’ll get to see something great. But theaters are always, with a few exceptions, showing new, untested movies. The local megaplex is full of first run films that haven’t yet had to earn their place in theatrical history.
Films that have stood the test of time aren’t treated so nicely. I can watch ‘Casablanca’ in the grainy glory of YouTube. And if I’m in the mood for ‘Citizen Kane,’ I only need to wait long enough for AMC to play it, complete with a logo in the lower right-hand corner. I can get a pan & scan version of ‘Jaws’ on VHS and watch it on a 19-inch set with a single speaker, completely ignoring the intent of the film’s creators.
To me, anyway, it seems like these great films are the ones that deserve to be seen on the big screens.
I’ll never forget how different ‘The Wizard of Oz’ seemed on an enormous screen at Detroit’s Fox Theater, or watching ‘Ben-Hur’ the way it was intended to be shown at the Redford Theater. I even got something extra out of ‘Shindler’s List’ when it was shown on a fairly small screen on the University of Michigan campus.
I’m not suggesting that the system is going to change. Then again, I might be. Since high definition televisions are ubiquitous, and on-demand services are satisfying a good chunk of the consumer base, maybe the theaters will finally fail, just like video rental stores. At that point, maybe all theaters will become like the tiny old art theaters around college towns and major cities, showing the cream of the crop movies the way they were meant to be seen.
Maybe instead of remaking a movie like ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,’ the folks who run the show should be re-releasing the original so that new audiences can fall in love with Gene Wilder’s controlled insanity just as we did. Instead of Steven Spielberg tackling ‘Oldboy’ for American audiences, maybe he should just fund a U.S. release of the film, and trust that the public is smart enough to watch something with subtitles. Instead of a new version of ‘The Wolfman,’ why not screen the one that made the creature so famous?
It’s a dream, and not a very realistic one. But it’s my dream. Perhaps when June 11th rolls around, the moviegoing public should send a message. Instead of shelling out $10 for a ticket to see ‘The A-Team’ or ‘The Karate Kid,’ let’s trek over to a theater we don’t normally frequent and put down our money for something good. The Redford Theater here in Michigan is showing ‘The Producers’ for $4, preceded by a ‘Mr. Magoo’ short. I’ll call that a winner any day.