The Big Screen
Written by
Deborah Batterman
August 2011

The last time my husband and I bought a new TV was 1995. Thirty-six-inch Sony, pre- flat-screen/high-definition days. We had just moved into a new house and the size was predicated on the room, coupled with the design aesthetic of my husband (a designer by trade). I have a very strong memory of the salesman trying to sell us on an even larger TV with this pitch: you never have to leave home.

Little did he know he had the wrong customer.

I love going to the movies – the smell of popcorn the minute you walk into the theatre, the scramble for the perfect seats (or whatever is available), the settling in once the lights start to dim, the enveloping darkness, the shared escape from the world as it exists to the one that lures us with technological wizardry, three dimensions (even more these days) captured on a very large flat screen, a blurring of lines between observer and participant. I can still remember the sense of awe that carried me through The Ten Commandments, the mesmerizing hold of Lawrence of Arabia, the tension that gripped my body the first time I saw Jaws. Used to be a more majestic experience, I admit. Double features. Glorious movie theatres (the Loews the king of them all) with bathrooms the size of NYC apartments. Not so much anymore.

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  • Deborah Batterman

    @Cathy -- Magical, indeed! I can picture it (ha ha) so well. Somehow your comment -- coupled with Augie's -- takes me back to those occasional summer nights as a young girl in Brooklyn when 'outdoor movie night' meant large white sheets on the face of a building. I'm also reminded of the truly exception experience of watching ET on a big screen outdoors on the anniversary of a film center I go to regularly. 

    @Augie -- I LOVE Nick and Nora and will (sooner than later) get that hi-res flat screen TV. 

    @Catherine -- I know someone who saw 'Tree of LIfe' twice. Don't know if I could see it so easily a second time -- but it's certainly a movie that leaves you thinking and filled with an original narrative approach to cinema.

    @Ms. Reality Space -- when I moved out of NYC, one of the things I missed most was the chance to see old movies in old movie houses, foreign and indie films (not so readily shown in those mall-type theatres. All the more reason I was so thrilled when the Jacob Burns Film Center opened (yes, the very place that showed ET outdoors on a starry summer night).

  • Augie

    Deborah, I'n with you except that I am not a regular at the Big Screen, but I enjoy the atmosphere when I do attend the cinema, live shows and the mega mega super screens at El Capitan, nothing is more vivid than seeing the characters jump out at you. Okay so I do own flat screens, but we mainly record BBC;s Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, The Saint with George Sanders as well as the zaniest sleuths that ever hit the big screen, Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man). So I thank you for this articles and of memories of the White Sheet hanging from a house or outside lights with the projector ready, aim and shoot. augie

  • Catherine Stine

    Just saw Another Earth & Tree of Life, both of which were good!

  • Ms. Reality Space

    I live around the corner from a fantastic movie house... adorned with brilliant neon in every color of the spectrum. They only play old movies... from Hitchcock to Once Upon a Time in the West... if only they would include a silent film or two -- namely Faust -- I would be eternally grateful.  There is no substitute for the romance of the big screen... as there is no substitute for a real book, held in your hands... as you are lost in story.