Thursday, February 05, 2015

In The Cinema Everyone Can Hear You Scream

4D cinema experienceApparently the next big thing in the world of cinema is going to be 4D. A speculative truth (at best) that various cinema moguls would like to convince us of.

Essentially 4D is a fully immersive, interactive experience where your cinema seat is made to shake and veer during car chases, you get pummelled with air during onscreen whirlwinds, you get hosed down during rainstorms or deep sea dives and you get blasted with the odour of stale alcohol and garlic when the leading man / lady moves in close for a tongue sarnie.

To be honest, there’s nothing new about this gimmicky approach to movie watching – most kids’ entertainment / holiday resorts have some sort of 4D cinema these days where we willingly pay an exorbitant fee to allow our kids to be waterboarded whilst watching The Smurfs because it stops them whinging on about wanting an ice cream for all of 20 minutes. But family holiday resorts is where 4D should stay in my opinion.

There is nothing cinematically immersive about having your seat shaken so hard you end up wearing the popcorn of the person sitting next to you or hearing the neurotics in the front row squeal every time a hidden air cylinder blows a couple of bars of pressurized cold air up their trouser leg. If anything this totally removes you from the film; it shatters the pleasurable suspension of belief that you have lapsed into in order to enjoy the movie and places you undeniably back into a darkened room with a bunch of people who will immediately become your sworn enemy should the fire alarm suddenly go off and you find your way to the exit blocked.

Books don’t need 4D effects. I didn’t need the smell of wet dog to assail me when reading The Famous Five or to hear the jiggling of female flesh when reading Game Of Thrones. And I imagine I would not need to have my hands manacled and tied behind my back to get the full effect of 50 Shades Of Grey. Though you might need to do that and threaten the lives of my children in order to get me to read it in the first place. Such artificial devices would break the spell that reading a book – submitting yourself to an imaginary world – weaves. It is the same with cinema. The only senses that need to be catered for are sound and vision. You can never fully recreate the entire gamut of physical sensation that the characters onscreen are being subjected to as part of the plot – so offering the audience piecemeal approximate sensations is not going to add anything to the movie at all. If anything it will detract.

And to be honest if you really need your seat to be shaken for you during a moment of cinematic jeopardy in order to feel the correct emotional response then you plainly have major empathy problems and cinema is not for you anyway.

Indeed, anything that involves being around lots of people or dealing with any kind of quantifiable human experience is not for you - you’d be much better off getting your kicks in a vacuum where nobody at all will be able to hear you scream and I can watch the end of the effing film in peace.

17 comments:

John Gray said...

In 1974 sennsuround was developed so the audience could " feel" the effects of an earthquake
In the movie ( wait for it) EARTHQUAKE
apparantly it was shite

Gorilla Bananas said...

This kind of thing will never take off until the holodeck on 'Star Trek' is invented, which won't happen until 2450. In the meantime you could join a historical re-enactment society - you'd be perfect for the part of a Catweazle-like sorcerer who spooks everyone with his chants and curses.

Steve said...

John: it wasn't really an earthquake but a ahiteslide?

Gorilla Bananas: Star Trek or historical re-enactment? Not much to choose from them in the nerd stakes... I guess whatever I pick it's win-win?

Trish Burgess said...

If 4D comes to the cinema it won't be long before it's in our own homes. I have enough trouble with the draft from our front door, never mind extra whooshes up my nether regions of an evening,

Steve said...

Trish: hope my wife doesn't feel the same way or I've bought all of those aerosol cans for nothing...

Nota Bene said...

As you know I like immersive cinema...but the sort that involves actors, stage sets, etc. Unimmersive cinema generally involves people stuffing their faces with popcorn, which is usually enough to make me shake with rage irrespective of what's happening in the film...

Steve said...

Nota Bene: it's great fun watching people trying to eat popcorn while they're watching a film about leprosy...

Barry Coidan said...

Golden Showers....

Steve said...

Barry: yes, it raises an intriguing idea, doesn't it? Will 4D reach the average porn cinema?

London City (mum) said...

Whatever happened to the 'good old days' when you could just sit back and RELAX and not worry about 'being part of it'?

Am I showing my age? Actually, don't answer that.

LCM x

Rol said...

No.

Just no.

Steve said...

LCM: your age appears to be a feisty 21, m'dear. ;-)

Rol: I knew you'd understand.

Fredulous Yo said...

I fully support 4D cinema if it brings me any closer to gaining a greater level of immersion into an imaginary situation where I learn what it's like to be romantically involved with Marion Cotillard.

The Sagittarian said...

Nah, have had all that real life stuff in real life - I thought cinema/theatre/movies/the flicks was about escapism...or is that work? I always get them mixed up...

Steve said...

Fredulous Yo: I hear you, brother, but I'm not sure what kind of pseudo intimacy a gas canister up the jacksie can bring you.

Amanda: work makes you think about escape and, depending on your job, sometimes cinema can make you think about work.

Keith said...

I can think of several films where this would"t be an advantage.

'The Human Centipede' in 4D anyone ?

Steve said...

Keith: but Carrie and Animal House would be quite interesting...