The act of going to cinema in terms of finding time, organising friends to accompany you and the agreeing on a film are bit of a fine art in todays multi-digital expressive landscape. However, when assigned the task of going to the movies for this weeks uni assessment, I took the challenge in my stride. In 1969 Torsten Hagerstrand (p.50) determined three constraints within a concept known as time geography, these are capability, coupling and authority constraints.
As the first constraint, capability, ask the questions, “Can I get there?” In this instance, my local cinema is only a short drive into town so access to the cinema was easy, however, as my sister and I share a car I could not be certain that I would have the ability to drive myself. This problem did not last long as my movie venture would most certainly be a date whereupon my boyfriend’s car would become our mode of transport.
The second constraint coupling, asks whether one can get there at the right time. With my uni work piled up, my best friend’s Hens night on the weekend and my boyfriend’s early-start-late-finish personal training times, the only session we could make together would have to be on Sunday afternoon. Luckily the movie we wanted to watch, Guardians of the Galaxy, did have a session time that suited, but it was in 3D, not my first choice.
The third constraints recognises the element of authority, or rather, am I allowed to be here? Firstly the cinema we were going to was a public space and the movie we were seeing had no age restriction, although with both parties being over 20 that was never an issue. The point of this third constraint is the assess the appropriateness of the plans; i.e. the party may be able to get there at the right time, but is it suitable for them to be there.
With most cafes and shops closed by 4 on a Sunday, I was not sure if the cinema would be a ghost town, however as it turned out as we arrived just as a film that obviously appealed to older generation had ended. This group of people were determined to hang around after the movie, standing chatting about what they had just seen and what they would do afterwards, also blocking the way for any other cinema-goers to move. The cinema is known as a transitional space or ‘non-place’ (Marc Auge, 1995), this being that those who visit are only intended to do so for a set time. It does not become a space, instead similar to a supermarket or airport, it is a means to ends.
After grabbing popcorn (we were sneaky and brought our own lollies due to the overpriced nature of the candy bar!) we walked into the smaller of the four cinemas 5 minutes before the start of the film. Choosing where sit in a cinema is both a personal and a spatial consideration. I personally try to sit right in the middle of the seating; middle row, middle seat: ultimate viewing potential. However, as a number of different groups were already scattered around, we tried to find a spot not close to anyone. This did not last long as a group of 8 young teenagers excitedly sat in the row directly in front of where we had chosen, this potentially ruining the whole endeavour before it had began!
To some extent there is a certain social ettiquette expected once you the sacred location of the cinema, it is a public space that becomes in essence, very private once the lights dim and the entertainment begins. The Sydney Morning Herald recently released a lost of 10 basic standards that are set when a movie ticket is purchased, expressing the frustration people feel when these rules are not followed.
The future of the movie going experience (p. 82-90) is uncertain for some in terms of the serious growth in home entertainment, downloading increases and personalised viewing spaces. In a recent blog post by Kevin Jagernauth, he acknowledges that these changes are impacting the cinematic audience culture, but so with it is the movie experience and the ways in which movies are allowed to be viewed. It is also noted that However, for people like me who eagerly await the new releases, the cinematic experience will be forever held in high esteem. As Christopher Nolan states:
“The theatrical window is to the movie business what live concerts are to the music business—and no one goes to a concert to be played an MP3 on a bare stage.”
While I have always been one to venture to the movies in a group or as a date, going alone has always been something I would like to try. It takes away from the argument of being anti-social as well as incorporating the new identity of personliased media consumption. Now there’s an idea that could change the trends of the movie experience: going solo!