Across the UK and worldwide, thousands of venues are currently shuttered amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with filmgoers and filmmakers alike anticipating a time when we can all bask in the glow of a projector light once more.
If you need evidence of how much it means to everyone, just look at the latest issue of Empire in which Edgar Wright curates a massive celebration of cinemagoing, with Hollywood icons and Empire readers sharing their most treasured experiences of watching a movie with a packed crowd.
Among the contributors to the issue, which include the likes of James Cameron, Daisy Ridley, Spike Lee and Daniel Craig, is none other than Steven Spielberg a man responsible for so many of the big-screen memories we all hold dear, and who has experienced plenty of magical cinema moments of his own.
As well as writing about the time he saw Lawrence Of Arabia on 70mm as a teenager, Spielberg wrote a passionate, personal piece for the issue about the magic of the cinema experience, and why – as much as it’s dormant right now it will never die. Read his thoughts from the article below, and we’ll see you in the foyer when the time is right.
“In the current health crisis, where movie theatres are shuttered or attendance is drastically limited because of the global pandemic, I still have hope bordering on certainty that when it’s safe, audiences will go back to the movies.
I’ve always devoted myself to our movie-going community movie-going, as in leaving our homes to go to a theatre, and community, meaning a feeling of fellowship with others who have left their homes and are seated with us.
In a movie theatre, you watch movies with the significant others in your life, but also in the company of strangers. That’s the magic we experience when we go out to see a movie or a play or a concert or a comedy act.
We don’t know who all these people are sitting around us, but when the experience makes us laugh or cry or cheer or contemplate, and then when the lights come up and we leave our seats, the people with whom we head out into the real world don’t feel like complete strangers anymore. We’ve become a community, alike in heart and spirit, or at any rate alike in having shared for a couple of hours a powerful experience.
That brief interval in a theatre doesn’t erase the many things that divide us: race or class or belief or gender or politics. But our country and our world feel less divided, less fractured, after a congregation of strangers have laughed, cried, jumped out their seats together, all at the same time.
Art asks us to be aware of the particular and the universal, both at once. And that’s why, of all the things that have the potential to unite us, none is more powerful than the communal experience of the arts.”