Surprises and Cinema Trips

I was sat playing a pub quiz recently, nattering away and paying what can only be described as minimal attention to proceedings, when of the questions was ‘Which of Steven Spielberg’s films – his highest grossing – has been re-released in cinemas this week following its twentieth anniversary?’. Now, none of my team had any idea what the answer was so, as always happens in these situations, we just plumped for our favourite film, hoping that it would be right. And unequivocally, undeniably, unarguably, Jurassic Park is his finest work to date and that was what we subsequently scribbled down as the answer.

Fast forwards half an hour and imagine our surprise, the magnitude to which my gob was smacked, when that turned out to be the right answer. Our plans for Friday had been made. At the tender age of twenty-two I never saw Jurassic Park during its original release window – at least, I assume I didn’t – and I wasn’t about to squander the opportunity to do so now.

On Friday, as me and a friend walked into the cinema, my whole body was tense with excitement and I’m not ashamed to say that, as the lights lowered and the curtains slowly rustled their way open, I clapped my hands together like a small child. And my excitement turned out to be fully justified.

Every epic scene you remember from the film, be it Samuel L. Jackson’s disembodied arm flopping gently onto the leading lady’s shoulder or the scene where the children are chased through the kitchen by velocoraptors, the entire experience is enhanced by the simple fact that your seeing it in a cinema. The difference from television is palpable. The size and quality of the picture, the thundering soundtrack; it’s the step up between black and white and colour, between beta-max and blu-ray; indescribable to someone who has only experienced one of the two.

Which brings me onto my real point. Now don’t get me wrong, as a member of ‘the digital generation’ – loathe as I am to use the phrase – I have pirated things in the past. I even own special eye-patch to wear while I do so. But increasingly I fail to see the point, particularly in respect to films. Yes I can can go online and download a film the day it’s released in America, but it’ll be shakily shot by someone holding a camera in their lap, people will stand up in front of the screen and the sound quality will be terrible. And even if it wasn’t, nothing can really compare to the experience of going to the cinema, of sitting through the adverts, paying over the odds for a snack that’s ninety per cent air but having an amazing time anyway.

So if you’ve got eight or so pounds going begging, and two and a half hours to kill, I don’t know where you’re not already on your way to watch dinosaurs tear it up like it’s 1991.

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