The cinema began with a passionate, physical relationship between celluloid and the artists and craftsmen and technicians who handled it, manipulated it, and came to know it the way a lover comes to know every inch of the body of the beloved. No matter where the cinema goes, we cannot afford to lose sight of its beginnings.
In 1969, Torsten Hägerstrand, an urban planner came up with the concept of a space-time path to illustrate how a person navigates his or her way through the spatial-temporal environment. He identified three categories of limitations, or “constraints”: capability, coupling, and authority.
- Capability: Can I get there?
- Coupling: Can I get there at the right time?
- Authority: Am I allowed to be there?
What happens when you apply these contingencies to the cinema? The cinema is a popular social place, and has been for many, many decades, it could be compared to going to a concert, theater, museum, travelling and doing sports. It involves going out with a group of friends (or alone?) coupled with a sense of relaxation and sense of fun and excitement.
To test Hägerstrand’s theory, on a rainy afternoon, I sent my boyfriend a text message and asked if he wanted to see the Inbetweeners 2 that night, After texting back and forth* about times and which cinema (we had to make sure he didn’t miss the rugby game) we agreed that he would pick me up 8 (I don’t have a car [capability]) for the 830pm movie at Hoyts Warrawong.
I then began making carrot sticks and dip for some movie snacks for us as I hate popcorn and it is so expensive. My boyfriend picked me up and off we went, I was excited to spend the rainy night at the cinema and laugh at the antics of the Inbetweener boys, I don’t think I could say the same about my boyfriend.
Lining up to purchase our tickets ($9.90 each), my boyfriend impulse bought some popcorn AND maltesers. I was fine with my carrots, dip and bottle of water, nicely smuggled in my bag! It was surprisingly busy ( I didn’t think people still went to the cinema? Maybe it was the weather…) and the whole place was filled with couples. We were ushered to our theater (never knew that was still a thing) and then ushered to our seat in theater room, where we also had the option to buy more snacks.
Sitting, in our assigned seats (up the back on the side), the movie finally (after the 23453 commercials) began, as did the laughs. I looked over to my boyfriend who was laughing and shaking his head. I will admit though, the squeal was not as good as the first.
After the movie there was a rush to get out. Everyone was back to reality, adjusting to the bright lights. Cinemas, offer a sort of escape from reality. You are in a dark room with strangers where your only thought is what is going on, on the screen in front of you. Everything outside that door does not matter for now. The romanticism involved with the cinema is something that cannot be accomplished from downloading a movie and watching it at home.
Perhaps it is the social conducts that apply to every social space, that give the cinema the edge in the digital age. When you go to the cinema, you usually combine it with great socializing and food, and yes that could be replicated in your lounge room, but to me it is just not the same. The rest of the world seems to agree as Box Office Figures have almost doubled for the top movie of 1993 to 2013.
You can see how all of these social constraints affected our cinema-going experience.It is also easy to see how these constraints can be applied in almost every social setting. When you are planning your next social outing, see how these constraints affect your experience.
*My boyfriend has this odd rule that he refuses to see any sequels, as he thinks they are unnecessary, always terrible and ruin the first, so it took a lot of convincing on my part for him to come with me haha!