Last Wednesday, myself and my family sat down in the Odeon, Trafford Centre in Manchester to watch Man Of Steel. This is surely one of the biggest movies of the year, promoted as a “3D experience”, IMAX being the format of choice etc… But we chose to see it on a traditional screen, though be it, in 3D.
But since the introduction of digital cinema a few years ago, let alone 3D, many cinemas have chosen to do away with the movable black border which surround the screen, used in traditional celluloid cinema to mask of the blurred edges caused by focusing on the image and not the surrounding border, generated by the projector’s gate.
But this problem in negated with Digital and this has led to cinemas choosing to save time and money by just projecting the image onto the screen in a way not at all dis-similar to that at home. I.E. The screen ratio is effectively the same as at home 1:85:1 (1:77:1 at home), so when you show or project an 2.39:1 image onto it, the distinctive letterbox effect is apparent.
This is NOT an effect that I would expect to being paying top ticket prices for in a mainstream multiplex. I complained and the Odeon’s response was prompt and generous and cannot be faulted in any way. But what can be faulted is the way that cinemas are going. Digital Cinema is a revolution of quality and even though purists would argue that film is the only way to go, realists would argue that it’s cumbersome, dated and impractical in a modern world.
I’m in the middle, loving the aesthetic of celluloid, or the modern equivalent and the practical application of Digital, such as the high-resolution, the ability to show 3D with greater ease and the options to expand the material which can be shown at cinemas, though watching the Wimbledon Final in 3D in a dark room in July is not really for me.
But its the lack of showmanship, the erosion of respect for the art of showing a film, creating and memorable atmosphere and presenting a film properly. Soon there’ll be little point in the 2:39:1 ratio as if it’s not shown on the correct screen, the image is diminished, which was how I felt on Wednesday. The film was great but I would have enjoyed it a bit more if I wasn’t disappointed from the get go by the poor and cheap presentation.
I can watch this film exactly like this for rest of my life at home, but the first time at the cinema should be something special, with a quality which is hard to replicate. But no, the attitude is to simply pack us in as cheaply as possible, with little concern as to how we enjoy the films themselves.
I am becoming ever more disappointed in going to the cinema, an in a time in which piracy is rife, something which I do not do myself purely for the lack of quality, but can understand some of those who do, this cheap attitude is driving people away. It’s too expensive and if offering less than before. A cinema trip should be a night out but instead it just a long and expensive journey to sit down and watch a movie in way not to dissimilar to who we might at home.
The spectacle has been lost somewhere along the way.