Lights, Camera, Action! The Art of Watching Movies: From Theaters to TVs


Blog Post

You might think that watching a film is a simple task that requires no special instructions. After all, you just sit back, relax, and let the movie play, right? While it may seem straightforward, many people fail to fully embrace the experience of watching a film nowadays. This article is not about analyzing the technical aspects of filmmaking or critiquing a movie's artistic merits while watching the film. Instead, it focuses on the basic steps and common mistakes people make when watching films, which can significantly impact their overall enjoyment and the selection of films they choose to watch.

First and foremost, you've probably heard this advice countless times from filmmakers and those involved in the industry: "Watch films in theatres." There is simply no substitute for the movie-going experience. Watching a film in a well-equipped theatre allows you to enjoy the movie to its fullest potential and experience it the way the filmmakers intended. You might wonder what difference it makes between watching a movie on your mobile device or TV versus watching it in a theatre. Well, let me ask you this: Is praying to God in your room the same as visiting a majestic temple? Are making and eating food at home the same as dining in a five-star restaurant, even if the food is identical? Is speaking in front of your friends the same as giving a public speech, even if the words are identical? Hopefully, these examples illustrate the idea that the setting and experience can profoundly impact our perception and enjoyment of an activity. Now, let's explore some of the many differences that watching a film in a theatre can make.

The Enchanting Power of the Big Screen

One of the most significant aspects of watching a film in a theatre is the screen itself. The large, wide screen of a movie theatre provides a mesmerizing canvas on which we immerse ourselves for a couple of hours. It allows us to witness intricate details and fully appreciate the cinematography and visuals of the film. Think about some of the most iconic shots in cinema history, such as the "Lawrence of Arabia" scene where the lead actor gazes at the approaching enemy or the moment in "Jurassic Park" when the characters first encounter the majestic dinosaurs. Which experience do you think would be more awe-inspiring: watching these scenes on a small phone screen or being captivated by them on a massive theatre screen? Every shot in a film is carefully composed for the big screen, with the intention of creating an immersive visual experience; this is how filmmakers have been doing since the silent era, making films for theatres. Filmmakers often utilize wide-angle shots, panoramic views, point-of-view editing, color saturation, and other techniques that can only be fully appreciated in a theatre. Conversely, television series primarily feature medium shots and dialogue-driven scenes optimized for TV viewing. When you watch a film in a theatre, you fully embrace the artistry of cinematography, editing, and visual effects.

Engaging with Discipline

Television series and movies employ different storytelling techniques and have distinct differences in their screenplay structure. They adopt various approaches to achieve their goals. For this discussion, let's focus on the pacing and tension-building aspects in the first act of a film. Most TV series have a hook or an intriguing element within the first ten minutes, and they often end each episode with a cliffhanger or a sense of anticipation for the next instalment. This structure is designed to keep viewers engaged and prevent them from changing the channel or skipping to the next episode.

In contrast, movie screenwriters have more freedom in terms of time management. They have the luxury of two to three hours to develop their story because they assume that the audience will commit to watching the entire film after purchasing a ticket and making an effort to go to the theatre. Now, imagine if iconic films like "The Godfather" and "The Shawshank Redemption" were initially released on television. It's highly likely that many people wouldn't have stuck around to watch the entire film because these movies start slowly and may lack the immediate excitement of superhero films or action-packed blockbusters. Films of this calibre often require patience and a commitment to experiencing the story in its entirety. Only then can you fully appreciate their brilliance. Therefore, it's important to acknowledge that some great films may not reveal their true rewards until you watch them in their entirety like, "Fight Club" or "The Sixth Sence".

Furthermore, movies are designed to be consumed in one sitting, allowing tension to build gradually as the story unfolds. Tension doesn't necessarily mean suspense or mystery; it can encompass a wide range of emotions and engagement. Unlike the disciplined focus you can achieve while watching a film in a theatre, home viewing on a TV often comes with distractions, interruptions, and a lack of full attention to the movie. Pausing the film, skipping scenes you don't like, being disturbed by the surroundings, multitasking, or having a divided focus can all contribute to a subpar movie experience.

The Unmatched Experience of the Theater

Think about how many times you've gone to the theatre to watch a film. Each time, the experience is different, filled with excitement, anticipation, and the immersive power of a large screen, enveloping sound, and darkness that enhances the visual impact. You become part of a collective experience, sharing the excitement and emotions with strangers who are going through the same journey as you. There is an undeniable magic in the collective experience of watching a film in a theatre that cannot be replicated by TV viewing.

When you watch a film in a theatre, you surrender yourself to the story unfolding on the screen. You become fully immersed in the cinematic world, undisturbed by the distractions of everyday life. The anticipation, the shared laughter, the collective gasps, and the awe-inspiring visuals all contribute to an unforgettable experience. The energy in a theatre is palpable as the audience becomes a vital component of the viewing experience. It's a chance to escape reality for a while and immerse yourself in the magic of storytelling.

Enhancing the TV Viewing Experience

Not every film you want to watch will be available in theatres. Whether it's an old classic you've been meaning to catch up on, or a recent release that you decided wasn't worth the trip to the cinema, watching movies on TV can be a viable alternative. Of course, not everyone has a state-of-the-art home theatre system. However, there are ways to maximize your TV viewing experience, and many of the same principles we discussed earlier still apply.

To begin with, try to watch on the giant screen available to you. If you have a choice, opt for a TV over a computer monitor or laptop. And, by all means, avoid watching films on your mobile device. Mobile screens are more suited for quick YouTube videos or social media clips, not for immersing yourself in a cinematic experience. In fact, I would argue that those who choose to watch movies on their mobile devices should be sentenced to "cell" in jail (pun intended).

Investing in a good TV with features like HDR and OLED can significantly enhance your viewing experience. You can find reasonably priced TVs that offer excellent picture quality, and the investment is well worth it. Treat your TV as a dedicated movie-watching device, and make the necessary adjustments to create an optimal environment. Silence your phone or put it on silent mode, watch the film in one sitting without pausing or forwarding, and dim the lights or watch during evening or nighttime hours. These simple steps can help eliminate distractions and ensure that you have a better viewing experience than those who succumb to the same mistakes I mentioned earlier.

However, let me emphasize that if a film is new and you believe it has the potential to be great, it's always advisable to check it out in theatres. The collective experience, the larger-than-life screen, and the immersive sound cannot be replicated at home.

Closing credits

Let's reflect on two hypothetical scenarios: X and Y. X eagerly prepares to watch a film. They have watched the trailer, read interviews, and built up excitement. Let's say X is going to see one of the upcoming films like "Oppenhenmeir," "Barbie," or "Mission Impossible 7." Meanwhile, Y casually turns on their TV, wearing sweatpants, or, even worse, opens a streaming app on their mobile device.

Now, X enters the theatre, filled with anticipation. They drive to the theatre, find their way to the correct screen, and settle into a comfortable seat. The screen displays trailers and advertisements as X waits patiently. They are surrounded by fellow moviegoers, all equally excited about the film. On the other hand, Y scrolls through the trending movie category on their streaming app and starts watching the film.

X is having a blast. They are fully immersed in the cinematic experience, free from distractions. Even during less engaging scenes, their attention remains focused. For a brief moment, they are companions on a shared journey with the strangers in the theatre. When there's a plot twist or a suspenseful moment, the theatre falls silent, collectively experiencing the magic created by the filmmakers. Laughter, tears, thoughts, and awe fill the theatre as everyone is captivated by the sound, cinematography, and the energy of the environment. After the movie ends, X walks out, discussing their thoughts and feelings about the film and hearing some discussion from fellow moviegoers. The movie lingers in their mind as they drive home, even seeping into their dreams as they sleep.

Meanwhile, Y watches the film while multitasking, dividing their attention between homework, office work, and the movie itself. They frequently pause the film, check out other options, and fast-forward through scenes. Despite the distractions, Y manages to complete the film.

Now, I ask you, who do you think truly experienced the film? X or Y?

"I always say: people think they've seen a movie, but if they've watched It on the phone, they haven't seen anything. It's sad. – David Lynch"


Add a comment