The Big Screen Challenge

When filmmakers make movies, they’re almost always created with the idea that audiences will see them in a theatre. By seeing a movie in the theatre, you’re seeing it in a setting that’s arranged for optimal enjoyment, the way the creators intended. Sound means more, panoramic views have more weight, and audience reaction is palpable. This is something that dawned on me late last year. There’s no denying the creature comforts of sitting in your own sofa with nobody else around, but I contend that there’s something lost in translation. After all, the best televisions are trying to replicate what you get in the cinema. And yet, the overwhelming majority of films are viewed at home. In 2012, I’ve sought to rectify this by finding films that I’d seen at home and checking them out on the big screen to see how much more enjoyment I would get. It’s become a challenge for me, with a personal goal of 15 to 25 classic or non-new release films on the big screen in 2012. I’ve had an awful lot of fun doing it. And now, I’m hoping to spread this joy around a little.

Allow me to introduce The Big Screen Challenge. Here’s how you can participate.

That’s it. It’s easy as pie. The second step is the important one. I happen to live in a major metropolitan area that has many options for classic films on the big screen, but I understand that not everyone has that sort of access. I’d hate to restrict anyone based on their surroundings. If you can realistically only get to two classic or non-new release screenings, then set that goal and knock it out. If you have the desire to see a lot and happen to live somewhere like New York or Los Angeles, then aim for 20. The rules are completely adjustable to your life and your enthusiasm about the project. The bottom line is that I’m having enough fun with it that I feel obligated to share.

This is 1,000 shades of awesome in a theatre.

As for me, I’m up to eight at this point, having just seen A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More as part of a double feature a few days ago. The rest of the list for 2012: Psycho, North by Northwest, Barton Fink, François Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black, The Quiet Man, and The Last Waltz. In nearly every instance, I’d seen the film previously at home, and wound up enjoying it more on the big screen. Coming soon, I’ll have chances to see The Grapes of Wrath, Taxi Driver, and  The Godfather, all before the end of April. Needless to say, I’m thrilled at the proposition of enjoying those movies in new and exciting ways, and seeing them the way John Ford, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola intended me to see their films.

Who’s with me?


Filed under Movies

22 responses to “The Big Screen Challenge

  1. I envy your privilege of being able to see these films on the big screen. The nearest theatre that would even consider showing classics is a 3 hour drive away from where I live, and they only show non-new release movies maybe once or twice a year. I have seen LAWRENCE OF ARABIA there, and I’m planning on catching THE THIRD MAN this month, but other than that it doesn’t look too likely I’ll be seeing a lot on the big screen, sadly. My friend does have a custom built “theatre room” as part of his home, and boy is it impressive. Soundproof, and fairly small so that the size of the screen seems bigger. It’s not like an actual cinema itself, but it’s the closest thing and I’ve seen several great movies there with him, most recently SATANTANGO and KOYAANISQATSI (by the way, if your theatre ever shows KOYAANISQATSI, don’t fucking miss out on it. You either see that in a theatre or not at all.)

  2. Sam

    This is a great idea. For once in my life I’m actually in a position to do something like this, now that I live in a city. Thanks for the nudge!

  3. I fortunately moved to a city with quite a few indie cinemas, so the last two films I’ve seen in cinema have been classics! I saw Otto Preminger’s ‘Laura’ and Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s ‘Night Train.’ Am looking forward to continuing the challenge!

    • Excellent! I have yet to see a proper noir on the big screen. If I’m lucky, I’ll get my shot some time this year. Laura is a great one to see anywhere, especially in full projection.

  4. rtm

    Well after seeing Casablanca on the big screen recently, I’m ready for more! I wish there’s an easy way to find out which theaters are playing classic films. I have to do a bit more investigating, but that’s why it’s called a challenge right? 🙂

    • Yes! So exciting! I really wish I’d seen Casablanca. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about it until the night that it was showing.

      In MSP, I bet there are at least a few options. Does the University of Minnesota have a film school? If so, that might be an option.

  5. Way to inspire aspiring, cinemaphiles!

  6. Aw, I want to do this but the theater where classic films were shown closed down. Sadly, I’m relegated to the occasional TCM performance in a theater. Awesome idea though!

  7. You are lucky to be able to do this John. We have one ’boutique’ theatre here that does show classics, but it rarely shows them at a time I can get babysitters for.

    As you know I am lucky enough to have my own little theatre at home… So I will make do.

  8. Castor

    I would love to get a chance to see some of these classics on the big screen. Sadly, I’m not aware of any place near me that does that 😦

    • Aren’t you in the Twin Cities? If so, I just did a quick google search and here are some MSP-area theatres that show classics:

      It looks like the Lagoon Cinema is showing The Goonies at midnight this weekend, and then Rocky Horror at the end of the month. According to their Facebook page, they did Apocalypse Now last weekend.

  9. nimorphi

    a theater by my house shows a Fritz Land movie every wednesday

  10. This is something I ought to do more of as well. My favorite local theater does a “Silent Film Saturday” once a month where they play a silent classic, complete with live organ music. Maybe I’ll finally catch one this month…

  11. Ryan McNeil

    This is a great idea, that I might participate in from a distance. I’ve been enjoying seeing catalogue titles in a thatre over the last few years. They especially come in handy those odd weeks where Hollywood hands audiences nothing but crap.

    Here’s what 2012 has brought so far (all first-time watches, except the one noted with an asterisk)…

    “1,000 LAFFS” – Silent film shorts programme inc. works by Chaplin, Keaton, Arbuckle, Laurel & Hardy

    • Oh yeah… definitely. This is a horrible time of year- no longer Oscar season, not quite blockbusters. It’s just a bunch of random mediocrity.

      That’s a heck of a list. A Man Escaped would be killer on the big screen. And that silent shorts program with Keaton (and the others)… that’s my white whale in this project. Keaton on the big screen is the ultimate goal. If that ever happens, I’ll consider the project a success way beyond my wildest dreams.

    • Ryan you stupid….I have to write about WILD AT HEART now ugh. My list is

      I did the math and knowing my poverty and film festivals I can probably do
      38 but I’ll be a chicken and go for 26. I’m such an a-hole.

  12. Pingback: Vimy Week Movie: Passchendaele « Okinawa Assault

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s