For most people it is impossible to remember what the first movie was they ever saw. Yes, your parents could probably tell you but cast your mind back for just a second. What images show up when you close your eyes and you imagine yourself sitting in front of the TV back home? The funny thing is, it wasn’t this hard before. About seventy years ago watching a movie at home was a luxury, an event only reserved for the few families that happened to own a TV. Getting a brand new invention like the TV in your home was probably monumental enough to be etched in your memory forever. But even people born in the ’50s or ’60s might have trouble rembembering the first movie they saw because of a little something called cinema.
I’ve worked in a cinema for over two years now. And during the more tedious tasks, sweeping up popcorn and telling people that they aren’t allowed to take a bag of pasta bolognese into the movie with them, my mind tends to wander. A lot. I have tried and failed to recall my first movie experience. I know that i watched Wall-e in theatres when it came out in 2008, i know my favourite movie growing up was Disney’s Robin Hood, but that’s about it. With my own memory not being a massive source of entertainment i like to imagine what other people experienced. When i take my place next to the trashcans at the exit i play my own little game. What kind of experience did these people have watching this movie? Those four teenagers that rushed out probably were more interested in talking to each other en messing around than actually enjoying the movie. Their chairs, most likely located at the very back, will be a pain to clean later on. The young couple who walk by probably just wanted some comfortable chairs in the dark. Let’s hope they didn’t quite feel comfortable enough to enjoy every aspect of their relationship. Right behind the couple might be a middle-aged man who has plenty of income to enjoy Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ to the fullest extent but chose to watch this particular movie in the theatre. Luckily for me and my game these guests are more than happy to tell me every little detail of their enjoyment of the movie. But then, an old couple slowly makes their way down the dimly lit and popcorn riddled stairs. They must have watched hundreds of movies by now. Would they know what their first movie experience was like? Just like that, my game ends and i’m back to daydreaming about the very first movie people watched.
The very first movie?
Wait a minute. All this time i’ve been spending my very valuable time trying to do the impossible. I can’t remember the first movie i watched. Period. But if i take a step back, away from the personal, i can actually get somewhere. There is a whole generation out there that can say with absolute certainty what their first movie experience was like! When the first ever movie was released to the public in 1895 there couldn’t possibly be another movie they had watched. That year thousands of people watched the ‘Arrival of a train’. A short clip of… well… the arrival of a train. I agree, it doesn’t sound like much but just imagine being there. All you have ever seen projected on a wall or white sheet is a single stationairy image. A portrait of aunt Gertrude, a poem by a famous writer or instructions on how to download Internet Explorer. This is all you know and suddenly you walk into a dark room and a train starts moving towards you. According to old stories people were so shocked that they rushed to the back of the room in fear. But come on, really? A black and white image of poor quality projected on a white sheet without any sound made people run in fear? Even modern cinema rarely ever has that kind of impact on a person. In all the hundreds of shifts i’ve worked i’ve only been handed a booster seat filled with vomit only once or twice.
So now what?
This blogpost is very much like my own mind. It certainly starts from a reasonable thought but it just kind of, wanders. Now that the dust has settled from my first ever post i can finally see where i am headed. Though the path ahead still has way too many bends and curves i can at least tell you where i am going with this. My blog was intended to be, currently almost is and will hopefully continue to be about the experience of media. How people see it and how i in turn look at them. That means that in my blog you have a role too. You are a person experiencing this piece of media of my experience of the experience of others.
Wait what was i saying?