In 1969 Torsten Hagerstrand’s work on time geography led to a new way of thinking about the relationship between spatial and temporal aspects of human activity. In particular thinking about the concepts in terms of our relationship to a cinematic experience is of interest. For the three concepts that Hagerstrand outlines can have a great impact on whether an audience can physically get to the cinema to watch the movie. This sense of disconnect is heightened when we consider the ease of which audiences can view these movies without leaving their home.
Hagerstand’s three concepts are as follows:
- Capability – The ability to get to a place
- Coupling – Can I get to the place at the right time?
- Authority – Am I allowed to be there?
When applying these three concepts to my own movie experience I was struck by how relevant these concepts actually were:
1. Capability – To start off it took me the entire week to the point that this post is late to be able to get to the movie. This was due to various work, university and sport commitments that I had to undertake. Finding a person, any person, to go with me at a similar time to when I was free was also difficult. Being free during the day and busy at night often conflicts with everyone in the worlds schedule.
2. Coupling – Eventually I got my sister to squeeze a movie trip in to her tightly packed life. However due to her kids and other things and then my job we only had two options for the movie. A quick jaunt to see Magic in the Moonlight or to see Guardians of the Galaxy. I picked Magic in the Moonlight, because I thought it would appeal to her more and Emma Stone is a boss, so it couldn’t possibly be bad right? (Oh dear, what an unmitigated disaster).
3. Authority – It struck me that this would be the least relevant due to the change in social standards particularly with regards to the cinema. However I couldn’t help but feel like in a two tier cinema, where the comfy recliner seats are down the bottom the movie experience somewhat resembled that of the segregation era (nowhere near to that extent or complexity of issue, but maybe just a nod to it).
The authority issue reared itself again as my sister and I walked into the cinema. She had her youngest child, almost 1, with her. To my amazement the stares and looks that we got as we sat ourselves a couple of rows up was astonishing. One lady who was in the row in front of us even turned around looked us up and down and turned around as my nephew snuffled a little before going to sleep.
While this is unsurprising as babies can be of distraction during the movie, what I found more pressing was the double standard of the other viewers. The movie audience was predominately older people as the cinema runs a special on Tuesday for senior citizens. While they glared and scoffed at a child, they found no problem with other similar aged people talking and eating loudly during the film. This is where I think the idea of ‘authority” was most prevalent. With the idea that in a particular social space the predominate audiences movie habits reigned supreme, while the rest were made to feel inadequate.
With this idea of the shared social space I also see this as the reason that cinema watching won’t die off suddenly. While the market may fluctuate and change I think that within most social groups there is a desire for a place where they can go to feel togetherness. The cinema perpetuates this by allowing multiple social groups to feel comfortable in the space depend on what movie is shown and when it is shown. This ability will continue to allow movie theatres to have relevance.