Gigantic Megaplex Movie Screen vs Itty Bitty Laptop

As I was working last night on my review of 12 Angry Men (which will be finished one of these days–seriously), I found myself wondering whether the film would be any different if I watched it in a movie theater. My laptop is great and all. . . actually that’s a lie. My laptop is an evil thing which seeks to thwart me at every turn. But it’s my only option for watching movies, so I must pacify it with soft words.

Anyway, are films better when projected on a movie theater screen? I think most people will agree with me that action films like the upcoming Superman reboot are more impressive when the actors are ten times their normal size. Who doesn’t want to count Henry Cavill’s nose hairs? Action films tend to have a desire to entertain at their core rather than a desire to enlighten, inspire or analyze. Hence why a large screen is more appropriate.

But what about other films? I saw the Iranian film A Separation at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre. The film is about a divorce and possible manslaughter. Tensions run high throughout the entire story. But did I need to see it on the big screen?

Though it flies against my love of all things cheap, I say yes. It is always preferable to see a film in a theater rather than at home–especially when you are watching it on a laptop. Not because the sound is better or it is easier to admire the cinematography (though both of these things are true) but because a theater is a defined space. As long as you obey the no-cellphone rule, there is nothing to distract you in a movie theater. At home I have a hundred things I could be doing instead, including sleeping. In a theater I have only myself and the film.

There are days that I feel movie theaters are my church, and the director of whatever movie I am watching is my priest. Then I remember the directors I have met and decide to just enjoy the film. Happy viewing, everyone.

Movie theaters– esteemed place of cinematic worship or damn ripoff. What do you think?


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