Sunday, December 4, 2022

Alone at the Movies

To share or not to share... It is a question for this movie lover. All my life I have longed to share this love, to discuss and share this particular passion with enthusiasm. And yet yesterday, when I settled into my theater seat, alone, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of sheer bliss.

It is only alone in the dark that I can truly make that magical connection. My heart space opens to its inner landscape and allows whatever is happening within those silver shadows to take over. It is all so very private. Tears flow freely when I am alone, my chest swells with love when I alone, and I truly allow something to touch my true self, something I can never do in the company of others.

Maybe this happens because my initial love of film happened while watching television. It was a lonely pursuit which even called for passing up a trip to the mall with friends because Wuthering Heights was on. Shopping at Lerner versus getting lost in the brutal romance of Laurence Olivier...not much of a choice for me. But I was a solitary kid and have remained so after all these years; the perfect candidate for a single seat in the dark.

It's not that I don't love sharing this passion by blogging, going to festivals or on social media (which allows me to share while remaining solitary - kind of a jackpot).

As an adult, those solitary experiences have become a road map or guide to that innermost space in me , the one behind and beneath those carefully constructed ramparts that life demands we build to survive. And when the castle is breached, oh what joy. When Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin engage in a silly, uninhibited dance as the credits roll at the end of "All of Me," I unfailingly burst into tears. I think they are tears of happiness, but I'm not sure. The sight of such unbridled, primal joy always cracks through that armor and finds its way to my true heart. And, oh, when Rocky Sullivan, in all of his swagger and power lets that light into his heart at the end of "Angels With Dirty Faces," yes, my own heart opens in recognition and surrenders.

Surrender. That seems to be the right word. A surrender in the dark that allows that sliver of light to find its way to a place where there in no judgment. Oh cinema, I open to your power and your story and together there is total trust alone there in the dark.

But there is something else - a bit of a paradox. Experiencing it truly alone, even in the company of others is one thing. It is private and precious. Yet how to explain that joy when shared with strangers in the same space. One of my most treasured movie-going experiences is this shot of Clark Gable in "Gone With the Wind." The theatrical re-release in 1967 was so exciting to this barely teen-aged kid. I remember they gave out beautiful color programs (I'm sure I still have it somewhere) and in a packed theater there was an audible and collective gasp from probably every female in the audience. Yes, my heart stopped for a second, too, but knowing that everyone felt what you felt was sublime and fun. Just remembering that moment fills my heart close to bursting. 

And, truly, I will never forget the laughter during the baked beans scene in "Blazing Saddles." The dialogue was drowned out by laughter.

Preston Sturges got it in "Sullivan's Travels." 

Times do change and a lot of what is considered entertaining has passed me by, I fear (although I've always had at least one foot firmly planted in decades before my time). The theater yesterday was almost empty and even though talking, crunching, sniffing, strange body parts too near me and cell phones glowing in the dark irritate me, I felt a little sad. I'm torn between sharing with live strangers, sharing in silence (as here), and holding that experience close within my heart because, in the end, there are no words to adequately describe the love. But, being human, we try. One thing our Covid experience has taught me: even though I think I don't like people, I guess I need them. Go figure!

Woody Allen finds faith in a world where the Marx Brothers
exist in "Hannah and Her Sisters."



So beautiful I have no more words to add.
Great article, my friend. I'm happy to have found you in the dark.

FlickChick said...

Thank you, my friend. I love sharing this with wonderful folks like you.