Watching Films On A Phone: The Inevitable Future Or Crime Against Cinema?
It’s July 2020 and all over the country, people are wondering whether the newly reopened cinemas will keep their doors open or err on the side of caution and close until the summer movie season is well and truly over.
While the last hopes of the season seem to lie with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, summer blockbusters like Marvel Studios’ Black Widow and Warner Bros/DC’s Wonder Woman 1984 have been pushed back until October with some sceptics believing that it’s only a matter of time until these tentpole flicks are either pushed back to a Christmas release or delayed even further until 2021.
One thing’s for sure, the COVID-19 pandemic has hastened a conversation about the theatrical experience that we were always going to have to get around to sooner or later.
As the theatrical experience and physical media give way to the convenience of streaming it seems that people want easy access to movies wherever they go, more than they value the quality of the audio / visual experience.
Which brings us to the talking point of this post… the acceptability of watching films on your smartphone.
We all know that many auteur directors like David Lynch, Martin Scorcese and the aforementioned Mr. Nolan are fiercely protective of the theatrical experience.
But is the idea of watching a film at home or on the go through your smartphone screen really the sacrilege it’s made out to be by purists and cinephiles?
Let’s take a look…
With a plethora of apps delivering streamed and locally saved video content to our smartphones, it’s easy to see the appeal in the convenience and immediacy of watching films on phones.
While the audio and visual quality may not be incredible, we can hold the phone up to our eyes, affording us a modicum of privacy while we view- while also getting to show off our funky kk designs phone case.
That said, it can be extremely awkward to either hold up a phone or crane our necks for the two and a half hours necessitated by the average blockbuster.
Smartphones don’t lend themselves well to long-form content.
However, they may allow us to watch our movies in smaller bite-sized chunks on the way to work or in the sparse few minutes of our lunch break.
Indeed, this may help to solve the problem many cinephiles have of never getting enough time to watch the films they love.
Of course, this piecemeal approach to film consumption may lend itself better to some movies than others.
A breezy affair like your average Marvel movie may be easy enough to enjoy in 20-minute increments on a phone screen.
But that’s hardly the best way to approach something like Bergman’s Seventh Seal.
What’s more, the subpar audio and video quality (not to mention the added distractions in your surroundings) mean that viewers are straying as far from the director’s intended viewing experience as it’s possible to get.
And in the eyes of AV snobs who insist on luscious 4K visuals and Dolby Atmos sound, to view a film in this way may seem nothing short of sacrilegious.
What do you think?
There’s no denying that the rise in portable digital technologies has changed the way in which we consume media.
Is this something that should be embraced, or is it a threat to cinema as we know it?
What do you think of this issue?
Do you think that it’s OK to watch a movie on your phone, or should films always be watched in the cinema?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.