This year is the 80th anniversary of the movie The Maltese Falcon. Pre-pandemic I would be immersed in the machinations of Bogie et al. while I was sitting in a comfy recliner, in the center of the 4th row, huge tub of overpriced buttered popcorn on my lap, a cup of overpriced soda in the cup holder, a smuggled in candy in my pocket.
But not this year.
The nature of movie going has changed this past year. It thrived as an escape from the Great Depression, from wars, from heat waves (there were air-cooled theaters before home a/c). It was only way to see a spectacle before huge TV screens. It was a temporary reprieve from heartbreak and/or loneliness, with the darkness giving a sense of both privacy and community. Movie theaters survived threats of demise even after Saturday Night at the Movies came to our TV screens, dedicated movie channels flooded the cable services, online streaming services offered films 24/7 at our own convenience.
But no longer.
Theaters in my area are open. Tickets are available to see the 80th anniversary airing of The Maltese Falcon. But I’m not ready to return. I’ll watch the movie – complete with recliner and popcorn and soda and candy – on DVD or computer from the house.
I’ll enjoy the movie as much as always, but it won’t be the same.