This past weekend, I attended a showing of The Book Thief at a local theater where lesser than Box Office films are shown. Twas my initiation to this establishment, and it was such a treat. The movie deserves a post all its own, and if I were to tackle the book, it would have to be a series of posts. What I want to share about is the experience.
During the first preview, belly laughs could be heard after the main character impersonated a Russian Storm Trooper. There was audible concern as Robert Redford discovered the leak in his boat, Virginia Jean. This was an audience ready and willing to be entertained. This was an audience I was pleased to be a part of.
I have something of an aversion to seeing movies at the theater, because I cannot control the environment. I acknowledge that this is an absurd aversion to harbor, and it doesn’t keep me from attending; but I’ll liken it to wanting a wooded area all to myself even when it’s in a public park. Mostly selfish, a little warranted.
This experience reached beyond my typical liaisons with the cinema. Laughing together at the characters charms, holding our breath when an SS guard inspects the basement, and collectively sniffling and reaching for Kleenex throughout. It was communal without feeling claustrophobic; a bit like when you find yourself truly rooting for a character in a live performance of a play or musical.
Even though the credits began to roll and the darkness lifted, we were still together. A lady in the row before me chuckled and commented about preparing by bringing enough Kleenex, and I remarked on the gravity of the film and that there was much left to absorb. As I made my way up the aisle and out onto the street, I held tightly to the communal nature of the evening.
What does a communal experience look like for you, where you’re separate but something is shared? Is it at a sporting event or viewing a parade? How do these experiences affect you? Do tell!