The experience of going to the movie theater can’t be matched. Movies are filmed to be viewed on the big screen. Popcorn doesn’t taste the same anywhere else. The cool darkness of the theater and the reverberation of the surround sound drown out the rest of the world. Suddenly you’ve arrived in Middle Earth, or Elizabethan England, or, in this case, Tara.
When I saw that Turner Classic Movies was bringing Gone With The Wind to movie theaters this year to celebrate their 25th and 75th anniversaries, respectively, I couldn’t buy my tickets fast enough. How could I miss the opportunity to see Scarlett O’Hara, larger than life, land one of the greatest bitch slaps in the history of Hollywood across the face of the decidedly deserving Ashley Wilkes? Was there anything that could cause me to miss the burning of Atlanta in the film’s original 1.37 aspect ratio?
So on a Sunday afternoon I ventured downtown armed with Sour Patch Kids and a Bota Mini (the good people at AMC River East aren’t reading this, are they?) and settled in for a four hour epic historical love story. Scarlett manipulated, Rhett charmed – well, charmed everyone but Scarlett—Ashley kowtowed, and the antebellum South was left in charred pieces. I laughed when Mammy tells Scarlett, “What gentlemen says and what they think is two different things, and I ain’t noticed Mr. Ashley askin’ for to marry you.”
I cried when (spoiler alert) Scarlett returned to Tara to find that her mother had only recently passed away. It was like I’d never seen it happen before, even though I’d seen it roughly 15 times in the past decade.
It isn’t just the magic of the movies, but the magic of the movie theater. It changes the way we see the film. Not just bigger, and louder, but without the distractions of the rest of the world. City sounds are silenced. Laundry isn’t waiting to be folded. It’s perfectly acceptable, even encouraged, to ignore your text messages in the theater.
It’s the reason I will continue to watch the same movie over and over (Heck, I watched part of Gone With The Wind the following night when it replayed on TCM), and still pay above-average ticket prices to see it in the theater. I want to lose myself in the lives of the characters on screen, and forget the outside world for a little bit. But mostly, I want to experience the film the way it was meant to be seen – and I think Vivien Leigh would approve of the wine.