METRO PLUS

Mind your movie manners

A FRIEND of ours bought a home entertainment system with a huge television screen hooked up to sophisticated speakers, DVD player and any other contraption that you can think of, and declared that he was finished with cinema halls.

The reason he gave was that he no longer enjoyed going to movie halls. Fighting the traffic and trying to find parking space was punishment enough. He didn't much care for the stress inflicted by the people sitting around him either! I thought he was nuts. How could he give up the joy of watching a new movie on a 70-mm screen, with Dolby stereo? It was several months later that I made it to a cinema to watch a movie.

I was dismayed by the cramped seating. The scene was chaotic — people milling about, with munchies and soft drinks in hand, pushing the seats from the back while the people in front pushed their seat back sandwiching the others. Waiting patiently for the lights to dim, it struck me that my friend's way of thinking was not all that crazy. Over the past few years, there seems to have been a total breakdown in movie etiquette.

People were still walking in till about the first 30 minutes after the movie began. As if that was not bad enough, some had the gall to stand and argue endlessly with the ushers because they didn't like the seats! Did it ever occur to them that they were not transparent? If they were so particular they could have come early.

When did it become all right to talk during a movie? There are few things more aggravating than trying to watch a movie when the people around you will not shut up. The only thing that beat this aggravation was the bunch of youngsters sitting behind us kept repeating all the dialogue (one of them proudly proclaimed that he was watching the film for the fifth time)! Not only was this behaviour rude and inconsiderate, but it also showed a complete lack of respect for people who had spent good money to enjoy a cinematic experience.

From an informal survey taken, here are some requests from movie aficionados:

* Keep crying babies at home. Please notice the lack of scampering mice, meowing cats and other animation on the screen. Take the hint. Your children are bored to death and unhappy, you are unhappy and the people around you are annoyed.

* Hurry up and finish the popcorn. If you come with more than four people, don't buy just one packet of the snack. A shared packet means a lot of talking, whining, rustling and constant movement back and forth. There are people sitting behind craning their necks just to get a glimpse of the screen while the popcorn sharing is in progress.

* Don't wrestle with candy wrappers, potato chips bags and cellophane wrappers. The rustling sound can be heard three to four rows, in front and behind you.

* Cell phones! What can we say to the boon/bane of the modern world? Actually, three words — Turn them off!

* We don't care how many times you have seen the movie. We don't even care that you are a self-appointed movie critic — none of us wants to hear what you think about each scene as it happens. Save the commentary for after the show. Did I say my friend was nuts? The idea of owning a home entertainment system is definitely getting to be more appealing!

CHITRA DANGER

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