The Film Experience

Lawrence of Arabia, Close Encounters, The Godfather, Jaws,
Singin in the Rain and An American in Paris; It’s a Wonderful Life; Casablanca or The Big Sleep; The Wizard of Oz; The Sound of Music

The film experience is unique and something that one must consider in regard to some of the classic films of the past century. These films were made to be experienced at the movies. There is something to be said for the movie experience where we sit in a darkened theatre and commune one-on-one with the story and the characters on screen.

The age of television has taught us a lot about community. We are a solitary people, at times, and television enforces this as we sit and watch the small screen every night. But movie-going was a collegial experience; you would go to certain films only on college campuses.
You would go out with your friends, with your girl friends or guy friends to see a particular movie or a certain movie star. Those things you did as a group. But now,television isolates us. We develop group-think as we sit and watch commercials and then pontificate at the water cooler about which shows we watch and which shows we hate.

Films give us a visceral reaction to events and to our emotional gauges in society. From the start, from the Birth of a Nation to Frankenstein and Psycho we always react with our gut when we think about a movie we love.

The movies that are shown sometimes at old movie palaces or as special events tell us a lot about ourselves as a society. They are the cream of the crop, and most of the audiences are graying when we see who is watching these older movies. Younger people do not really want to sit and experience movies as we did in the past. They are not able to experience film the same way, and the type of movies that are made today reflect this divide.

Perhaps we will not always find ourselves in dark movie houses with the ability to lose ourselves in a character or a storyline flickering on the big screen in front of us. But we will remember the era of big Hollywood movies and the film experience for what it was. And what it tells us about our own American Experience.

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Author of "6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village", Ms. Johnson continues to blog on film and publishes a newsletter plus the Flipboard magazine 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies. Her book is currently available on Amazon at

2 thoughts on “The Film Experience”

  1. Talk about change! We don’t even see flickering film any more…even at the Tampa Theatre! Now it’s all digitized for display. But still very much the same experience, if not better, with improved quality of both picture and sound. I’d go with the same films in a Top-Ten of all time, but you listed eleven. Wouldn’t Casablanca win hands-down over Big Sleep?

    1. Pretty much a subjective view for all lists…I see all types of films listed for all categories/genres….I’m very much afraid that the age of cinematic productions is grinding to a close…people are watching too many films on the small screens-but baby boomers (like us) will still like the movie-going experience!

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