I Miss Watching A Movie Alone, Together.

By Guy Webster

The room is slowly darkening, the curtain is parting and the floor is sticky; there is the rustle of chip packets, the whisper of quick bouts of gossip and one old man ready to turn around with a sturdy ‘Shhh’. I’m sitting in my seat at the front, alone, eavesdropping a little bit. As the room darkens completely, I throw off the real and imagined baggage I’ve brought in with me and settle in for three hours of something new. There is an almost imperceptible hush, shared between strangers, and the movie begins.

Sitting down in front of that big cinema screen, you face a kind of escapism that isn’t escapism at all.

Whenever I travel somewhere for the first time I make sure to go to the local cinema alone at least once. Initially, this habit was born out of necessity - I was travelling alone, there was simply no other option. But now, I’m addicted. There is - or there was - something unique about sitting in a cinema somewhere new, completely alone, sharing something with strangers you’ll never see again. I’ve seen Star Wars alone on Christmas Eve in Norway; Brooklyn, alone in LA; and countless other films at the Arts Picturehouse when I first moved to Cambridge.

The loneliness of sitting in cinema is unique. It’s different to sitting alone in a room watching another episode of whatever Netflix has recommended and catching your judgmental reflection in a cracked laptop screen. Sitting down in front of that big cinema screen, you face a kind of escapism that isn’t escapism at all. You may be soaring through galaxies, kissing in the rain or abseiling down a skyscraper, but you’re also just one person in a dark room watching a screen. Yet, this loneliness is something you share with those around you. It’s a kind of solidarity that lets you be alone, together. In this, it is an experience that parallels that of quarantine - struck as we are by a feeling of being alone, together.

I Miss Cinemas Themselves

By Maria Pointer

You might be wondering why I’m missing the movies when lockdown has provided us with an unparalleled wealth of content to consume online, not to mention the time to take it all in. But what I’m currently wishing I could get back to is the cinemas themselves. It’s these iconic houses of film that continue to preserve that precious time reserved purely for shutting off from the rest of the world.

So next time you’re making that list of films you want to see in the coming months, consider alternatively the cinemas you want to see them in

The Prince Charles Cinema is a repertory house in London, dedicated to doing just that: preserving those moments through the rescreening and reviving of cult classics, arthouse productions and pop-culture favourites to audiences full of avid film-lovers. Standing as the only independent cinema among the multiplex giants of Odeon, Vue and Cineworld in the West End of London, it is a cinema I fell in love with for its very character. It’s known for its infamous canopy displays of which a favourite has to be ‘Sod the sunshine, come and sit in the dark’ and there’s a definite feel when you walk into the building, one I now associate with a 19th birthday trip to see an original 70mm film screening of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Indeed, it’s the atmosphere of these locations that makes them memorable; standouts that come to mind include trips to see Ocean’s 8 at the White City Electric Cinema, Rocketman at my region’s Everyman and more recently Little Women at my nearest Odeon. Whether it be a celebratory visit, a family night-out or just the warm comfort of visiting your local regular, it’s the consistency between all of these cinemas in creating a space for a combined experience and a shared moment of escapism that I’m looking forward to getting back to.

So next time you’re making that list of films you want to see in the coming months, consider alternatively jotting down the cinemas you want to see them in. I certainly will be.

I Miss the Sense of Community

By Sophie Wise

There’s a community in the cinema. You gather some people, spend an extortionate amount on tickets and popcorn, and then sit and experience a film for the first time, together. Whether it be a Spielberg epic or Dora the Explorer with your little brother dragged, you’re all sharing the experience of these twists and turns.


Mountain View

The authors reminisce on the things they’re missing most about Cambridge life.

Midnight showings are maybe my favourite example of this shared experience. Growing up in a family of keen superhero film fanatics, I’ve seen every Marvel film thus far. With a franchise as big as Marvel, the only way to enjoy it properly is to avoid spoilers and invest in a midnight screening. My family and I appeared at half 11, buzzing to see if all our theories that had brewed for the past 2 years would come true. Cue the mass hysteria. There was confused looks, gasping and inevitably crying; scaled to 100 people. Experiencing scenes you’ve been waiting to watch for months, with so many other people who have been waiting for the same thing creates such a sense of inclusion and belonging.

You don’t get this feeling sitting at home watching Netflix. Sure, you can watch it with your family, or NetflixParty with a few friends, but the collective gasp doesn’t quite work as well. Half of the family are on their phones, not really paying attention to what’s going on. I want to be in a room with 100 other people; reacting to the same thing at the same time, with no sudden ringtones, no glaring screens and no talking.

I Miss the Intangible Power of Cinema

By Nadia Mahmoud

Several months ago, I conquered the fiendish difficulty of clashing schedules to organise a family day trip to our local Vue cinema at Westfield London. Since we were – in archetypal family outing fashion – running unbelievably late, you can imagine our smugness when we managed to pull off that all too familiar stunt of rocking up to the movie one minute prior to its commencement. Mission accomplished. Only thirty minutes later, however, the adrenaline-fuelled action scene in which we were so engrossed, was suddenly cut off. Confusion, anarchy and utter chaos: these are terms more befitting a zombie apocalypse than a cinema, but apt in describing the scene of swarming cinema-goers who flooded out of all twenty screens. The widespread technological malfunction proved unfixable, leading us to stand in queues to secure a refund. During the lockdown, I have repeatedly attempted to recreate the big-screen experience at home, but I must admit that it did not quite feel the same, even without the potential of mid-movie malfunctions.

The answer is something intangible; it is the power cinema has in transporting us to a new world that unfolds before us

What was it then in these cases that reveals what I have missed about the cinema? The answer is something intangible; it is the power cinema has in transporting us from the cushioned chairs we shuffle uncomfortably in, to a new world that unfolds before us. The tantalising aromas that waft from the snack-bar, the gargantuan screen dimensions, the highly advanced sound systems, and the expansive darkened rooms filled with equally avid cinema lovers, come together to create an exceptional ambience that is distinctive to cinema.Together, they generate a particular magic in the air that has the ability to immerse the viewer into a wholly different reality. This is, after all, why self-confessed cinephiles such as myself are so willing to repeatedly invest our time, effort and money into the cinema – it is to re-live those special moments when we escape our comparatively mundane everyday lives to inhabit another realm of existence entirely. It is this which makes every visit to the cinema just as valuable, enjoyable and memorable as the last.

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