It’s February now, everyone's favourite and the shortest month of the year. This lovely month is well known for being cold, hosting Valentine’s day, and being cold. Did I mention it’s cold? When writing in February, the theme of love is to be expected, which is why I’m choosing to write about something we all love, the classics. Specifically, I’m referring to the continued interest we have in older movies and the theatres that still show them on the big screen.
Our interest in classic old movies is fascinating. Outside of a scholarly background, logic should dictate that older films aren’t as good as modern ones. The equipment for filming has improved over the years with better quality cameras, sound recorders, and more. On top of that, techniques and tricks have been developed to make the whole process of shooting easier. So with all this, content should be getting better, right? Despite all this, we continue to make our way back to the classics, even going to the big screen to see films released before we were even born. So where does this fascination come from?
Last weekend I found myself going with some friends to the Cinesphere theatre in Toronto to watch The Matrix. The whole experience really gave me a new understanding of our love of the classics and the old theatres that still show them. For those unaware, the Cinesphere is an old IMAX theatre that’s a part of Ontario Place. You walk across a long enclosed bridge to get to what appears to be a giant sphere. The place itself looks like it belongs in the final act of a James Bond film. The Cinesphere has many screenings of old films, from Pulp Fiction to Lord of the Rings.
Harking back to my previous article, it's not just new films that benefit from the big screen treatment, as there is a whole new level of wonder from having your whole vision filled with two guys wearing sunglasses, hitting each other in a subway platform. This outing was my first time seeing The Matrix in full capacity, and I have to say, I had my doubts on whether or not it could live up to today’s standards. However, upon exiting the theatre, I can assuredly say that my doubts were laid to rest. Sure, the film has some moments where the special effects are less than spectacular, but if you look past that, there's a magic that the filmmakers captured. The action scenes were excellently choreographed and aided by a visceral soundscape which is made even better by the sound system of the Cinesphere. The world-building it achieves is excellent and all consuming. There is really a sense of magic that the film captures that makes it still just as enjoyable all these years later. It’s this magic that really makes it a classic.
Now, nostalgia certainly plays a factor in our enjoyment of old films. The memories we have of our first time seeing them is why we look back so fondly. However, nostalgia is only enough to have you go back a few times. What keeps us coming back for years and years on end is the excellence of the films themselves. Everyone has their favourite film, and most of those are ones released many years ago. It’s that special blend of nostalgia and filmmaking excellence that creates the classics that we adore so much.