I remember as a kid, going to the movies with my uncle.
It was always a thrill, like an adventure of sorts. I remember the Star Wars movies or the Stallone action flicks or the inane Crocodile Dundee movies, how the hiss-filled Dolby Stereo sound bounced off the majestic Roman walls of the huge Capitol theatre on North Bridge Road and larger-than-life characters were made even bigger by the towering screen; I felt like I was in the picture instead of just watching it.
Back then, I always wanted to live the life that the characters were living on the screen. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker fighting the evil Empire or I wanted to be Rambo, verbally inadequate, but more than made up for by an arsenal that would put the fear of God into any army in the world. I wanted to be those characters and they lived in my mind long after we left the darkness of the movie theatre and stepped out into the bright sunlight.
Well, these days, everything seems to have changed. The theatres of old have been replaced by the cineplexes of the modern age. Popcorn has replaced Kacang Putih just as computer generated tickets have replaced china graft pencil seat markings on pastel pieces of paper.
In the face of all this technological advancement, has it really changed the way we watch movies?
The question popped into my head as I was watching a movie recently (okay, I was watching a DVD at home) called Someone Like You (it was the wife’s pick – I swear.)
A standard romantic comedy with Hugh Jackman and Ashley Judd, it was quite fluffy indeed. Now halfway through the movie, as Jackman and Judd were pacing about their shared apartment in their underwear, I had what alcoholics call, a moment of clarity.
I realized that I wanted the life they were living.
I wanted to be living in a rent-control, beautifully converted New York city loft apartment with huge windows, lots of natural light and tastefully expensive décor; I wanted a roommate who looked like Ashley Judd, who would walk out of her room in the middle of the night in her underwear and do a cheerleading routine for me while some other sultry nameless woman slept in silence in my room.
This revelation got me thinking – did the movies change? Or did I?
I went from wanting to save the world from the clutches of galactic evil to a spacious, 3 bedroom apartment with wood panel flooring and a modern kitchen and bath.
Did I lose my values somewhere along the way?
Thinking about it, I came to a conclusion – it’s a wish fulfillment thing.
A movie such as Someone Like You has no inherent social message and neither is it positively life-affirming (unless you count Ashley Judd bouncing up and down in her undies – I know some people would, you know who you are) but still I sit through them, entranced sometimes.
Let’s face it – all films serve a purpose.
(yes, even Boa Vs Python serves a purpose – it expounds the dangers of giant snakes, helpful if you ever meet one.)
Goes without saying then, that the same applies for movies like “Someone Like You”, which clue you in to a lifestyle you would like to have. Bad plots and contrived dialogue aside, they do have in them beautiful apartments with gorgeous roommates who prance around in their undergarments bending over fridges looking for day-old Chinese takeout.
So I have lost my values.
Or maybe it’s just my goals that have changed.
Well, I’d like to think of it as the “I-will-never-get-a-lightsabre-in-the-foreseeable-future-so-why-not-lounge-about-in-my-Ikea-nesting-instinct-in-the-meantime” syndrome. I mean, Ikea does exist but you don’t see Darth Vader doing his shopping there do you?
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be Luke Skywalker and Rambo (okay, maybe not Rambo) all rolled into one but that is a memory from a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
So here are the things I know for sure.
I know I will never look like Hugh Jackman. I know I will never get a roommate as hot as Ashley Judd. I know that the possibility of a $90 a week rent-controlled loft in the Village is quite possibly a pipe dream. However, I also know that I will continue to be suckered into watching movies like Someone Like You simply for the possibility that someday, I might actually be, “someone like them”.
These movies feed your desires and wants.
But that’s what movies are all about right?
Suspension of disbelief is a powerful tool and yes, in the face of implausible circumstances, my disbelief is still suspended for that ninety or so minutes in the theatre. Maybe it’s my determination to milk the most out of the price of my movie tickets but I’d like to think that someday, I will have that New York loft, complete with the beautiful roommate (whom my wife doesn’t mind – just kidding, dear) who lounges around in her underwear and yes, if evil does come a-knockin’ at my lavishly wood-paneled door, I will have my trusty lightsabre ready to go at a moments notice.
God, I love the movies.