At the start of November, I went out with a friend and saw the film Dune at a Showcase Theatre. I will not bore anyone with the fine details of the day, but this experience reminded me of many of the problems with modern media and the repeated problems audiences can never seem to escape.
According to the ticket I had purchased, the film was to begin at twelve o’clock and last for a duration of just over two hours, the price for one ticket to go and see Dune in this instance was seventeen pounds, not much for a single person but if you are taking a family or you are going as a large group, I can imagine the admission price climbs quite fast (the price of popcorn not included). Perhaps I do not understand human nature as well as I thought but if you told me that the average movie goer would be willing to put up with being ripped off and then lied to about when the movie was going to start, I would have not believed you. To counter this, I will make a defence of the price of popcorn, when I went in, I not only knew I would be overcharged but this was something I expected; I don’t know exactly how far back the tradition goes but getting overcharged for popcorn seems to be something that goes back well into the past century, it adds to the experience in a strange way.
The theatre was practically empty when we walked in, nobody talked during the film either. This is possibly a good thing, though I do wonder how cinemas still stay open these days, it was the middle of the day on a weekend too. I remember seeing Toy Story 3 in the cinema a long time ago with my family and the experience was the opposite then, a crying child is annoying when you want to watch your dumb talking toy film.
From twelve to thirty-five past twelve, I was thoroughly reminded of why I no longer watch television, every advertisement seemed louder, more obnoxious and alien than the last. Again, I will not go into exquisite detail, but I would like to express that I now know about the Coca-Cola advertisement for gamers and that I too am also blessed in knowing about the bizarre nature of the John Smith Christmas romance between a young boy and an ambiguously gendered alien.
The film itself was good. It wasn’t great but it didn’t feel like I was being overcharged at least. How I felt going into the film was a shame, those advertisements were extremely asinine, I imagine watching Dune at home would offer the better experience. I understand that Villeneuve’s Dune was made for the big screen and it certainly contains some great spectacles but this isn’t how I best enjoy a film and certainly not how I enjoyed the Dune books. Forgive me for what I about to say but I best enjoy films when they make me think then capture my imagination or at least make me feel emotions.
My imagination was thoroughly captured by Frank Herbert’s book and it even taught me a lot too, the same with the Lynch adaptation. The Lynch film was riddled with problems and is probably a bad film but it somehow captured something that seemed to be absent in this new one. I can watch the older movie and feel much more connected with it, Villeneuve’s film somehow feels distant and less embodying.
I will keep this article short as to avoid depressing the reader, but I wanted to be honest and it seems like the experience of going to a cinema has slowly been degrading over the years, possibly accelerated by the particular events of the last two. If anyone wants me to write a serious review of the new Dune film, I will be happy to do that, eventually. These are just some thoughts I had to get off my chest.
----- Update -----
I wish to take back what I had originally said about cinema prices. After listening to some people much older than I, I have since discovered that the practice of price hiking was never a tradition and a noticeable shift or decay occurred in cinemas throughout the 80s and onwards to the present day. Boomers or at least older members of generation x when talking in earnest will often praise the benefits and comforts of the present but also observe some form of decay; most common being the loss of the 'neighbourhood' by this they could be talking about the loss of the high trust way of life but I'm not going to put words in their mouths.
This probably wasn't an important amendment but being wrong in this way was bugging me.