Going to the Movies

For this week’s blog in BCM240, we were asked to plan and undertake a trip to the cinema, working around the three constraints to human spatial activity identified by Torsten Hägerstrand. These three constraints are: capability, coupling, and authority.

The restraint of capability refers to the limiting of human movement due to physical or biological factors (Corbett 2011). In terms of capability, I was worried that I would not physically be able to go to the movies because of the recent flooding of roads in my area, but luckily I was able to get through.

The restraint of coupling refers to the requirement of being in a certain place for a set amount of time, often in the company of others (Corbett 2011). This restraint didn’t really apply in my case as I wasn’t worried about the length of time needed to watch the movie and I wasn’t perturbed about viewing it alone.

The restraint of authority refers to spaces that are controlled by people or institutions who can place limits on access to these spaces by individuals or groups (Corbett 2011). I wasn’t too concerned with this restraint as the only limit on my access I had to worry about was one of payment, and I had money.

Another part of this week’s blog was to examine the cinema in spatial terms and on the basis of our observation, estimate what will happen to movie attendance in 5-10 years.

The movie I went and saw was Trainwreck, featuring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. It was scheduled to start at 10:15am but I arrived 30 minutes early because I overestimated the time it would take to get there. I sat in this really comfortable red material chair in the second last row a few seats off from the middle, the seat I was assigned.

As I waited for the movie to start, I watched a pregnant woman, two middle aged couples, three woman, and another lone woman enter the cinema, making an audience of 10 if I include myself. Something interesting that happened during the time we were waiting for Trainwreck to start was that every single person there was on their phones, and not to turn them off, but to amuse themselves.

The other interesting thing that happened during the movie was when particular parts united us as an audience, but also separated us. As a comedy, the movie was fantastic, bringing the audience together with moments of synchronicity in the form of laughter. But comedy also divided us as there were times when some of the humour was only felt by a handful of us. At some points, I think only one person and I laughed.

Based on my experience, I would say that less people actually go to the cinema to watch a movie anymore, and while they are there, they use media devices like mobile phones to briefly escape the space they inhabit until that space is able to capture their interest. Also, films are able to unite and divide us in the same space in the same instance through their use of themes.

In 5-10 years, I think cinema goers will have the same experience as they do now, unless cinemas are able to better capture audience attention in the lead up to the movie. In terms of film content uniting and dividing us, I think this will remain to be true as everyone has different tastes and views on what they witness. This diversity is important as it drives discussions about film and the underlying messages that some promote.

Image – Cinema by weegeebored


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