One of my favourite parts of going to the cinema has always been that brief moment in between the adverts and the BBFC certificate. For me, it is a rare instance where you feel suspended between two worlds; light dissolves into darkness and the only sound is the quiet mumble of anticipation, that swiftly dissipates into silence. For a few seconds, you are teetering on the precipice between two worlds, occupying a seemingly divine void that overwhelms the senses.
This week I went to watch Logan, but instead of asking friends, I had a burning desire to go alone. This decision, I know, will raise a few eyebrows, as there is still a certain unwarranted stigma attached to those of us who chose to go on a solo outing to the cinema. This stigma, however, is not the product of malice, but rather social anxiety: we hate the notion of being judged on our aloneness; we feel a sense of vulnerability. Yet, despite these thoughts occupying my mind, this hedonic urge continued to overwhelm me and even though I arrived fifteen minutes late, I found that I was not treated like some weird lonely creature that had just crawled out of a cave. I got my ticket; went to the assigned screen; found a seat and that was that. A pretty underwhelming experience and one certainly not worthy of an article.
However, on this occasion, for some unknown reason, my solitude sparked a profound immersion; I became startlingly aware – more so than any other moment that I can recall – of how powerful the cinema is at bridging the gap between reality and fiction. Darkness descended, the screen went blank and for an instant I lost all sense of selfhood. I became a seemingly omnipotent observer, peering across into another world. My eyes never left the screen.
Now this probably has a lot to do with the fact that Logan is a fantastic piece of cinema – I expect you will not get the same results if you watch Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. However, I can imagine that my aloneness also significantly contributed to this feeling of transcendence. When you are on your own in the cinema, you do not sneak a look to see whether your friends found the last gag funny, or feel for the touch of a loved one as you slip your hand on top of theirs. You submit to the film; you let the ethereal light that shines from behind you guide you to a new reality. When one of my favourite moments occurred – that small gap between the trailers and the age restriction – I was not looking around trying to gage my social group’s feelings. Instead, that split second of darkness felt like I was blinking and, when my eyelids opened, I found my self surrounded by a new world that existed as tangibly as ours, until the credits rolled and the lights came on.
I am sorry I cannot offer you more insight into my own experience, and maybe I am being a tad Romantic (I do wonder how Wordsworth and Keats would have comprehended the cinema). But on this occasion, I was completely enamoured with the cinematic experience. Although it may seem daunting or even like a form of social suicide, I urge you to at least once in your life go and see a good film alone. Let the light from the projector transport you away from the baggage of your reality, feel your identity melt into the darkness and then become a true observer of some incredible story.
For those of you looking for something more than some short rambling, here is a link to a fantastic review of Logan that you should read: