Memories Of The Silver Screen
After the heartbreaking news of Cineworld’s and Picturehouse’s closure, Will Thronton reminisces on his best memory of the cinema.
Out of everything that’s happened this year thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, one of the things that has impacted me the most (aside from the obvious, of course) has definitely been the shutting of cinemas around the country. Even the ones that have since opened again are governed by strict rules regarding social distancing and face-masks, to the point that I haven’t even bothered to venture inside a cinema since last year. And now with the news that Cineworld and Picturehouse are both closing for the unforeseeable future, it seems like a very real fate that cinemas may never recover from the year 2020.
But let’s not focus on the negative. In light of this ongoing pile-up of negative news regarding the nation’s cinemas, I’ve been asked this week to reflect on my favourite cinema-going memory. Choosing this was no easy task, as I’ve had so many incredible moments sat in the darkness, absorbed into that hypnotising screen, that choosing one to focus on seemed near impossible. There’s the time I spent my eighteenth Halloween marathoning Eighties horror films all night at the Prince Charles in London, the time I took one of my friends to see Withnail and I and once-again found it the funniest film I’ve ever watched, or even the time I took my girlfriend to see Jaws in the summer on our second date. There are so many unforgettable moments to choose from, but in the end, I had to go with a memory that will forever hold a special place in my heart: the first ever time I went to the BFI in London and saw Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm with my Dad.
Out of all the cinemas I’ve been to, the BFI Southbank (or the National Film Theatre, as it was formerly known) would truly be the most heart-breaking to hear of its closure. I’ve spent so many days travelling into town just for the chance to spend the evening sat in those luscious velvety chairs, watching classic films in front of one of the best screens in the country. And seeing Lawrence of Arabia was my first ever taste of this, and I’ll never soon forget it. From the moment I heard the film’s blaring overture as the lights dimmed and the projector started thumping away, I was truly absorbed into the gorgeous film. The enormous landscape of Jordan’s desert was truly stunning on the big screen in the stunning 70mm restoration, and never before had I been so engrossed in a film as I had in that moment – it was as if you could feel the heat coming out of the screen, and the whole audience was transported into the midst of the World War I era Middle East. And this only got better as the film went on, and the whole four-hour runtime of the film flew by in what felt like minutes.
Out of the hundreds of times I’ve been to the cinema, this particular visit stands out in my mind as the absolute best out of all of them. I’ll never forget the time me and my Dad travelled up to the BFI for the first time, and saw what has since been one of my all-time favourite films, and I just pray that even if every other cinema in the country shuts down, at least let the good old BFI come through shining.