Saturday, February 08, 2014

To the bitter end....

My husband and I just went to see The Monuments Men. A good flick, if a little slow in the beginning. But this isn't a critique of the picture, it's more of a commentary on the audience.

Now this one was well-behaved. Mostly older than us (which isn't always a plus. Some old folk need volume control for both their ears and their voices). They watched the movie and chuckled when they were supposed to, tensed when the action got general, they acted like well-mannered adults at a movie theater.

And then they left. En masse. The story part of the movie ended, there were a few shots of the real Monuments Men and pictures of the actors alongside their name to help the audience know who played what part. The screen faded to black and the cast list started rolling, white letters on a black background, and the exodus began. Immediately.

I strongly object to this. For two reasons, one practical, one artistic.

The practical: where do you think you're going? The aisle is too narrow to allow everyone to leave at the same time. A line forms and you're going to stand in that aisle until the passage clears. Alternately, you stand in front of your seat waiting for your turn to step into the aisle, which is worse because of reason two:

The artistic. The style of film making today puts all the credits at the end, after the story is complete. Everyone who worked on the film...the extras, the stunt men and women, the grips, the gaffers, even the composer of the music came in this section today. And I wanted to know who wrote the music because I collect soundtracks and can often identify the composer while watching the film (for the record, I was wrong this time...see below).

These people put just as much time and effort into the film as the actors did. Some of them put considerably MORE time in. And yet, people walk out of the movie theater without giving their names a second glance. Audiences don't care about these behind-the-scenes crews.

But I do. I stay every time. The ushers who clean up between showings are often come in and start their job while I'm still sitting there watching names scroll by. One of the ushers today made a snide comment asking if we were staying for the second showing. I ignored him and kept watching the screen as the songs rolled by. There's a song sung in the film and I didn't recognize the voice and wanted to see who it was.

NOTE: There are some films that put a little scene post-movie that they run after the credits. Audiences have learned to stay through the credits for the Marvel movies, for example. They know they'll get a little treat - a sneak peek into an upcoming movie if they stay. While I enjoy these, it's almost like a bribe to get audiences to acknowledge the people who put the movie together whose faces are not on the screen. I know audiences see it as a reward - I stayed, now give my my carrot.

The first movie I saw that put a short scene after the credits was The Mission. I'd taken my mother-in-law to see it and it takes her a while to get moving again after sitting for so long. She was fussing with her coat as the last of the credits rolled and missed it entirely. A very short piece that, for me, changed the meaning of the movie entirely. The cardinal looks into the camera and dares you to disagree with his decision. Very powerful.

And I was the only one to see it at that showing. Everyone else had left and my mother-in-law wasn't paying attention. I stood in total amazement at how such a short piece (less than a minute in length), could flip a film so fast, and then I stood in amazement that those who had left the theater were now discussing it with incomplete information. They hadn't stayed and had missed a wonderful addition.

I stay to the end, until the blue screen comes up and there is no more movie. Why? Part curiosity, part wanting to give those people their due, part stubbornness (okay, there's a lot of stubbornness, especially when ushers get snarky). It's something I feel strongly about (in case you couldn't tell!).

So if you ever come to the movies with me, don't bother to gather your things when the credits start to roll. Stay relaxed, seating in your comfy seat, because there is music playing and names to read. Give those people the honor of reading them.

(note from above concerning the soundtrack: John Williams uses similar orchestrations in all of his films. During one part of the movie I thought the sound very close to the Indiana Jones' theme so I pegged this as a John Williams' soundtrack. It wasn't. I had to nearly lay on my husband's lap in order to see around the woman who'd stood in front of me and blocked my view, but the soundtrack was written by Alexandre Desplat, one of my favorite composers. :) )

Play safe!

who now climbs down off her soapbox...

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