Why I’ll never stop going to the movies
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a perfect scene from Casablanca, an old favorite.
By ANGIE ROMERO
Out of all my fears (and I have many), death sits comfortably at the top. It’s gotten better with time, but it’s still very real. Every time I fly, I think about it at least once, which is why I always must have an adult beverage or two to relax. When I get into a car, I think about it, too. Walking down the street. Sitting in my LA home, sometimes I feel the earth sway a little bit and then wonder about earthquakes: “When’s the next big one? It’s about that time.”
Maybe I’ve just seen too many movies.
But when things like the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado at a movie theater showing of The Dark Knight Rises happen, it makes you realize one thing: the things to fear are the ones you’ve probably never even thought of.
Well, most people anyways. A phobic like myself has actually thought about that horrible scenario a bunch of times, particularly after 9/11, when the way we thought about everything changed.
My prayers go out to all the victims and their families. Some of the things I’ve been reading have been chilling. Others heartbreaking. All of them have reminded me of the fragility of our existence, particularly in this nation at this particular moment in time.
I can’t believe that, all these years after Columbine (which I witnessed from a classroom in Boulder, Colorado, where I went to college), this is still happening. Or maybe I can.
Bowling For Columbine’s director Michael Moore said it best to The Wrap yesterday in an e-mail: “I believe anthropologists and historians will look back on us and simply conclude that we were a violent nation, at home and abroad, but in due time human decency won out and the violence ceased, but not before many, many more had died and the world had had its fill of us.”
An infographic we ran yesterday showing mass shootings since 1991 proves we are indeed a violent nation.
The Department of Homeland Security is working with theater owners to implement better security measures, and some theaters aren’t allowing costumes anymore.
What’s next? Is going to the movies going to become the truly unpleasant experience that airport travel has?
Doubt it. Our nation doesn’t have the budget. And even if they did go that route, we all know that treating the symptoms will never be as effective as eradicating the disease (guns).
Whenever I thought about death in the past, I used to say to myself, “If I think about it long enough and hard enough, I can plan my escape from whatever situation I find myself in. Or perhaps something unbelievably good — a miracle — will happen.”
For the record: I do believe in miracles. Just as I believe that there is something terribly wrong with this world (and looking at the shooting suspect, James Holmes, I know there is), I believe the exact opposite is equally true.
But time has made me realize that there is no need for an escape plan because control, like fear, is a lie. In the end, I have control over almost nothing.
That doesn’t mean I don’t still grapple with my fear of death.
For a split second yesterday I had a flare-up. I said, should I go to a mid-day showing of The Dark Knight Rises? Because these types of crimes only happen at night, right?
And then I did my usual self-help routine. I think of things I’ve seen or read throughout my life that have helped. This time, I thought of a quote I read in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables in the 8th grade and has had a profound effect on me, to this day:
“It is nothing to die, it is horrible not to live.”
Going to the movies (the actual theater) has always been my favorite pastime. Within the world of entertainment, it is where my heart beats. I believe it is the most evolved form of art, and it is a special thing I share with friends, family, and sometimes, myself.
It’s a ritual. It starts and ends the exact same way always and I love that aspect of it: I get my fresh popcorn (if it’s not fresh, I’ll wait) and soft drink and a little something sweet before the previews start. And I have to be there for all the previews because it’s my favorite part.
And then there’s deconstructing of what I just saw afterwards. If it’s memorable enough, the movie will even seep into my dreams that night. If it’s amazing, or, conversely, terrible, I’ll even write about it, or have someone else write something about it.
With The Dark Knight Rises, some people felt it was insensitive for us to run our review yesterday in light of the shooting. While I understand where they’re coming from, I also felt it was unfair to the film, which is truly a work of art, to not run anything. So I asked someone whose taste in movies I respect greatly — Smriti Mundhra, a personal friend and producer with over ten years of experience on independent and studio films. She described it as “thrilling” and “heartbreaking.”
Chris Nolan, the director of the film, has spoken out about the tragedy, releasing the following (non-exclusive) statement yesterday:
“Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.”
The movie theater is my home, too, and nothing can ever take that away from me. Not even the utterly and completely useless fear of death.
(Photos: Casablanca - IMDB)