I recently went to the local cinema to see New Moon – no I will not be critiquing the movie because there are no words – and while I was there I fell into the practise of people watching. Mind you, I should have been absorbed by the movie and unable to people watch but trust me, that wasn’t a problem.
First there were the people immediately behind my seat. I think they were mother and daughter. The younger one was obviously a fan of the books as she kept saying, “that wasn’t supposed to happen” and “No, that isn’t what came next”. Normally this would bother me while watching a movie but in this instance, it was a welcome distraction. The older one (mother?) occasionally hushed her but usually would sigh or laugh quietly.
Across the aisle from my seat were a group of teens, a mixture of boys and girls. The boys had their feet up on the backs of the chairs in front of them and spent the majority of the first third of the movie throwing pop-corn at the screen, particularly when you-know-who started appearing in ghost form. I think they only stopped the pop-corn throwing because they ran out but listening to them was quite entertaining. Clearly none of the boys in the group had read the books and were mystified by certain things (obviously they had also avoided seeing the first movie). The girls very patiently explained why the vampire was glittering and a few other key factors, and then re-explained them a few minutes later, and then told the boys to be quiet while they threw themselves into the backs of their chairs in a huff. Which is where they stayed for most the rest of the movie, though the last thirty or so minutes of the film saw a riot of activity as one after the other they took turns to go out to buy drinks or answer their mobiles or the like. They were really enjoying the film.
In the front section of the cinema was my favourite couple. Late teens, maybe early twenties. The guy had a cap on but his hair was gelled and sticking out from underneath in sticky tufts. During the first Edward/Bella kiss he whoo-hooed loudly and was hastily hushed by his girl, though she made more noise than he had. He continued to snicker and make various comments under his breath that I couldn’t quite make out but his tone was amusing and the girl was doing a good job of trying to slump down in her seat and disappear. As Bella slumped into depression (skillfully and subtlety portrayed – I don’t think) the guy apparently had reached his limit. His loud exclamation of “I can’t believe you made me watch this!” brought more laughter to the cinema than the entire rest of the film.
All and all, the attitude in the cinema was quite different from usual. There was no fierce intensity of people leaning forward to catch every moment. There was no one sitting passively, just taking in the movie. People were chatting, constantly. They were moving up and down the aisles and in and out of the cinema. Nobody seemed to mind that there were constant distractions. Usually someone would have gone to complain about this behaviour and how it was ruining the film, but no one did. It was a unique cinema experience.
But it made me think. Why were all these people in the cinema if they didn’t seem to care whether they saw the movie or not? Why was I there?
I was there because I promised a friend and because I waded through the books and well, there is nothing else to see at the cinema unless I want to sit through 2012, though having actually been through New Moon, I think I should have chosen 2012. I went in expecting to dislike the movie. I went to the first Twilight film expecting to dislike it. The difference, the first Twilight caught me off-guard. It was half-decent. Not good, but certainly a compelling enough one-time-watch film. The second one didn’t. Right from the start I was rolling my eyes at the clumsy flash backs, the tacked in exposition to fill in the plot holes left by omissions in the first film, the terrible acting, and the nail in the coffin had to be the rolling depression sequence that insisted on not only showing the climate change through the window but also writing each month name across the screen as if I was slow and needed to be hit in the head with the idea that time was changing. Okay, I did a minor critique but now I’m moving on.
The boys were clearly there for their girls. The parents were there because they brought their daughters for a reasonably wholesome family outing. The teens were there either because they were fans of the books or they have become fans of the actors. The different motives for being there meant people responded in different ways to what was happening, both on screen and off.
The lesson for my writing. Know why my character is doing something and I can construct a more believable response to stimulus and therefore create a more believable character.
The lesson for life. Stop going to the movies just to enjoy air-con for a few hours.
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