Written by Bea Copland (Cinema Projectionist)
Films are an artform. They can take years to craft and are often a passion project for the lead creative. Once created, they can be edited but often they remain as they were at the moment of completion. They become a moment frozen in time – a capsule of when it was created. Much like all great art, films go through phases except it’s less “neo-classical” and more “age of superheroes”. This industry has its giants much like art has Da Vinci and Van Gogh. Names like Francis Ford Coppola and Orson Welles are seeing much of the same longevity.
Where it’s most comparable is in the way that audiences react. All truly great art elicits reactions from those who view it, be they negative or positive. In an age of social media frenzy, reactions seem to be at their most explosive and divisive. Art has always been a reflection of the world and the artists who inhabit it, which often leads to timely and provocative pieces. Films like “Blackkklansman” and “Mississippi Burning” bring further attention to racism whilst something like “Paris is Burning” highlights homophobia. Such projects will often receive differing opinions depending on which side of the political spectrum you fall on.
However, films can also bring people together. Entire communities have sprung up around major franchises in particular. There was no “Star Wars” fanbase in 1976 but now fan gatherings are a yearly occurrence around the globe. This year it was Anaheim in the US, next year it’s London in the UK and who knows where it will go from there. These are often safe spaces, filled with like-minded people and there are few better things than feeling like you belong.
It may not seem as prevalent but it happens in Kirkwall too. Premieres of “The Hobbit” and “Star Wars” trilogies carried on past midnight but they still gathered large audiences. More recently, the seats have been selling out for “Top Gun: Maverick” and “No Time to Die”. Those who live in Orkney are part of a community but it’s at its most visible when crowds are condensed. When there are over 200 people in a room for a sole purpose, there’s a tangible feeling of togetherness.
Some Orcadians don’t always feel the community spirit. In those moments, film can provide an escape. When the real world is too much, it’s comforting to return to the realm of Middle Earth or to Elm Street. In these worlds, good almost always triumphs over evil and there’s a sense of security in that. Life is often messy and uncertain but re-watching a tale for which you already know the ending is never like that. Then there’s the nostalgia of watching a favourite childhood movie, which also serves as a reminder of when times were easier.
Film has been a solid constant in my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve escaped to it and formed lifelong friendships through it. Now, I’m lucky enough to be a part of it, hopefully sharing with you the joy that they have brought me. As streaming becomes a dominant force, I hope you keep returning for the Cinema Experience. There’s nothing else quite like it.