The way you watch a film often has an impact on the viewing experience. If people are talking through a film you’re watching or if you’re on your phone then you’re going to enjoy it infinitely less than if you can give it your whole attention. If you’re in a location that matches the film, the world you’re being transported to will feel all the more real – for instance if you see Breakfast at Tiffany’s at an outdoor cinema in the pouring rain then the end scene will leap off the screen.
A few weeks ago I went to go and check out Whirled Cinema in Loughborough Junction (I can do that because I live in London now which is no big deal whatsoever). Situated under the railway arches of the train station and tucked away next to a gym, Whirled Cinema uses its unique location to offer the cinemagoer something different. With a bar, balcony, and pizzas ordered if you get there before eight, it not only shows the very best art house films from the past few months but does so in a way that shows a true dedication to the art of cinema. As the trains whizz over, full of commuters heading home or people starting their nights out, the rattling noise becomes a part of the atmosphere in the room, punctuating the scenes taking place in front of the audience’s eyes. Occasionally the picture wobbles, and it feels as if the whole room is shaking with the importance of the on screen story.
The film I was lucky enough to get to see whilst there was Venus in Fur from 2013, based on the play by David Ives and directed by Roman Polanski. It follows the audition of Vanda for director and writer Thomas, for his adaptation of the book by Leopold van Sacher-Masoch. Soon the relationship between them and the barriers between audition and reality begin to blur, until what is performance and what is not becomes not only unintelligible but also an unnecessary distinction to make.
When I watch a film what I’m after most of all is to be taken completely out of my own head and to be transported. Venus in Fur not only did this in an interesting way, but where I saw the film also allowed me to venture further into the escapism. Watching a film with an engaged audience that truly connects with a film changes the whole cinema going experience, and at Whirled Cinema it’s clear that, first and foremost, the film’s the thing.