An experience lost from the pandemic?

It took a while for my eyes to get used to the dark. I’ve forgotten how that works inside a movie theater. I squinted, my hands groping for the rails as I took small and measured steps to make sure I didn’t trip and disrupt the silence of the six other people inside the cinema. Thankfully, my friends were sitting at the very back row, and I immediately guided my hands to find the seat nearest the aisle.

Inside SinePop (Photo from @sine.pop on Instagram)

I arrived late, you see, to this screening of Lav Diaz’s “Norte” inside an honest-to-goodness movie theater, one located in a quaint, brutalist house along this quiet street in Cubao. SinePop, as this beautiful oasis in the middle of the city is called, is a refuge for Pinoy film buffs looking to experience watching a movie inside a cinema again.

But this isn’t about SinePop itself. There’s another article for that. This is about experiencing the joy of watching a movie in a proper cinema.

And what a joy it was, indeed. With most recreational places closed because of the continuous trouble caused by the pandemic, people have forgotten what it’s like to watch a film on a big screen. Most have settled on just watching new films via various streaming platforms. Sure, some have tried to replicate the experience by offering alternatives, like that outdoor car park cinema by SM or that gondola film viewing by Megaworld Lifestyle Malls. Still, nothing compares to the real deal.

This is why when my friend Miks told me that SinePop in Cubao was open but to a limited audience, around six to eight people per screening, I got excited to book a date for the chance to watch a film in a theater again.

There’s something about being in front of a huge screen that turns a film’s characters, story, and setting into things larger than life. It’s magical, it’s personal but also communal. Watching a film in a theater is a shared experience, but also a subjective one. You immerse yourself in the story, crying and laughing and cringing together with everybody else inside the cinema. It’s a collective experience of reeling from the plethora of emotions elicited as the film reel spins (or the digital marker moves).

Watching a film in a movie house, therefore, is a truly human affair. Like every other experience of art, viewing a great film touches something at the very core of a person. While this is true even when watching movies on streaming services, whether with a large smart TV or a small smartphone, the experience is not as complete as sitting inside a huge theater, with air conditioning and surround sound speakers at full blast. With hope, the world would soon snap out of this era of COVID and return to normality, where people can once again watch films as they were meant to be enjoyed.

Source: Manila Bulletin (