It sits here before me, just a matter of less than a metre away. As I fly on my world tour (on conference trips to the USA and Australia), the boredom of yet another flight awaits. Yet, at my fingertips, I have my passion and a choice of a plenitude of cinematic offerings, which I can use to carve into the hours ahead. It may not be the same as the experience of the cinema; a darkened room with unknown faces, reflecting in the streams of light emanating from the screen. The deafening booming sound that surrounds you, enveloping you in an otherworldly experience. Certain filmmakers, maybe I should not name names, express a predilection for the cinematic experience, which accentuates every part of their filmic opus. I, however, do not remain true to the cinema, which may be akin to blasphemy in my field, but instead I cheat with the cinema repositories, the DVD, Blu-ray, the laptop, the Mac, the Ipad, etc. The sensual experiences of the salles de cinema may wither away, but the portability, and the sheer accessibility allow us to enjoy and consume cinematic goods whenever and wherever we like. These are all new forms of experience, and highlight the adaptability of the medium. But does it pose a challenge to the cinematic experience?
We visit the cinema for an experience: a social and shared experience. But, the world is becoming more insular at the same time as becoming more ‘connected’. The film experience is no different; it is becoming easier for us to consume films and access them instantly, in the case of downloading and streaming, whether that may be legally or illegally. We can even now consume and access films that are yet to even be released in the territory where you reside, and we are consuming these films on a more private and intimate level.
The cinema is a modern experience, and in the current cinematic environment, we are expecting more from the screen (the rise of 3D consumption and 4D development). As we can now access the film experience on a quotidian basis and consume the films according to our whims, we demand more from the cinematic experience and the screen. 3D consumption has dramatically risen in recent years, and film producers are keener to develop 3D projects to tap into this market. There are a multitude of dossiers on the website of the European Audiovisual Observatory, which all analyse this developing sector.
So, the film experiences may be adapting and changing, accessing the products on a myriad of technological advances, but one aspect remains the same. Although we may watch the film on the TV, laptop, or tablet, we all follow the old cinematic traditions in the domestic environment. We turn off the lights, and prepare to suspend our disbelief.