Cinema Memories


We brought mom to watch a movie recently – The Avengers. We park nearby and walk to the cinema multiplex. In the midst of the movie, the popcorn we were sharing disappears. It later shows up at home in on the dining table; mom had stowed it in her handbag and saved it for later!

After the show, as we were pulling out of the carpark, mom commented on how lucky we were that the carpark was not crowded. Her remark triggered my memories of how it used to be.

We used to have to park in rows in the cinema carpark, filling the lot completely. Nobody moves out until the end of the movie, and then everybody moves out. Going to the movies meant lining up to park, and queuing up to get away after that. Coming out of the cinema, we would make our way among the crowd going to their cars, and there would be the sound of cars unlocking and doors slamming. And then patiently (or impatiently) inching forward to get to the exit and out onto the main road.

When we were young, we would go to the cinema once or twice a month. Pick a show, pick a time, and go. Rex, Federal, Capitol, Cathay.  Sometimes one of us would have to get down early to queue and get tickets – 50 cents each. In order to know what’s showing, we would have to crane our necks and scan the billboards whenever we drove past the cinemas in town.

5 big differences cinemas then and now:

1. Then: there was only one show per cinema, so crowds gathered before and after the show.

Now: cinema multiplexes have many different showings with different start times. So there are crowds all the time.

2. Then: you must show up at the box office to get tickets. You can see how popular the show is by the length of the queue.  It is quite possible to queue up for half an hour and then see the box office window shut because all the tickets have been sold out. There would be complaints!

Now: you can book tickets online up to days in advance. If you didn’t and discover that the tickets you wanted are sold out, you can still buy tickets for a different show in the multiplex.

3. Then: there might be a break in the middle of the movie while the reel is being changed, or if the reel change did not occur smoothly.

Now: digitally, there should be no breaks in your watching pleasure.

4. Then: you hear people talking, eating and the constant whirr of the reel mechanism turning.

Now: you might hear talking, eating, and the beep of handphones.

5. Then: there were wooden flip down seats. The environment can get too warm, and you might see a few fans being flapped.

Now: there are cushioned flip down seats. The environment can get too cold and you see a lot of sweaters.

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17 thoughts on “Cinema Memories”

  1. Isn’t it nice to get out and see a movie with your mother? Do you ever find that she does not recognize that she is watching a movie but thinks it is “real life” ?

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    1. Interesting question! No, she still knows she is watching a movie. It’s an easy activity to plan and do, because little is demanded of her. But you triggered another memory:
      When we were young, if we asked her what she thought of the movie, her answer was often, “That was not realistic”.

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  2. Yes, movies sure have changed. The big question is: how did your mom enjoy this particular movie? Did you repeat that it wasn’t realistic? Did you see the 3D one and if so, how did she handle the glasses?

    It’s nice she can still enjoy going to the movies. You are a good daughter.

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    1. My mom enjoyed it, but when I asked her if she understood it, her short answer was, “No,” with a laugh. She went on to say, “Those young people laughing at the show – I wonder if they really understood what’s going on,” as though she didn’t believe they did.

      She no longer complains that movies are “not realistic” as she used to do many years past. I wonder if she is taking a different view of reality nowadays.

      She enjoyed Snow White (with Julia Roberts) more, and I think it is because each of the scenes in there is a visually comedic scene in itself, so she didn’t really have to connect the dots to get it.

      We didn’t watch the 3D version, because she has bad eyesight in one eye. Yes, I really appreciate she can still go to the movies and enjoy the experience.

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    1. She enjoyed it as much as she could. I think she enjoys it as an outing rather more. Hence, we choose the movies we want to watch. In this way, we all get something out of the outing.

      We already knew she cannot follow storylines on TV shows. She watches the news and tries to understand it, and the news repeats itself which helps her too.

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      1. That’s great. It made me smile to think of her watching the Avengers – in a good way. The last outing I had with K was to see a movie. She was so weak at that point it was difficult for her to lift her head, but she wanted to get out. It’s nice because in the movie theater there are spots for wheel chairs. She really enjoyed it even though it may have been hard to follow.

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    1. Oh definitely prices have changed. It’s now $11 or more per ticket. I asked her if she remembered how much a ticket used to cost, she can’t recall it now. She is amazed though at how much the hairdresser costs, and how much I pay at the supermarket.
      A perm costs more than $100 against the $15 she used to pay. And my supermarket bill can exceed $100 against the $20 she used to pay weekly.

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  3. I’m glad your mother is still able to enjoy going to a movie. Golden times to treasure. You bring back memories. My dad used to drop us off at the movie theatre on Sunday afternoons sometimes. I had forgotten the part about the reel being changed. One time the film roll actually broke during the show. And it made that flapping noise as it continued to rotate, kind of like the noise the films our teachers used to show us sometimes in class at the end of the reel. Thanks for unburying the memories.

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