Reflecting on tragic events

Clarke Reader
Posted 7/25/12

I go to a lot of movie premieres. Midnight screenings and opening-day showings are some of the most fun and community-building experiences a film fan …

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Reflecting on tragic events


I go to a lot of movie premieres.

Midnight screenings and opening-day showings are some of the most fun and community-building experiences a film fan can have. It’s always exciting to see who will dress up for the show and to share the thrill of seeing something new with a bunch of new friends.

So it was with eager anticipation that I purchased tickets to “The Dark Knight Rises” for the evening of Friday, July 20. That Thursday evening I went to bed tremendously excited about the next night.

And then I woke up.

The whole country and the world woke up to the news of a senseless and horrific act of violence in Aurora. Amid the swirl of questions being asked around the world was one for many moviegoers — including myself: Should I still go to the movie?

I’m a firm believer in the notion that if acts like these cause people to change the way they live their lives, then the perpetrators win, My family and I decided to keep our plans and go see the movie.

Opening day for any film tends to be when the theater is most crowded, and with a film as highly anticipated as “The Dark Knight Rises,” I figured we were in for a long line, so my brother and I arrived at the theater at 4:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. showing.

A police car was parked prominently in front of the theater, and a police officer was stationed right behind the employee who takes tickets and lets people into the theater. Seeing that was a clear indication — as if one was needed — that this experience was going to be different from other opening-day screenings.

As we looked for the line that we thought would have started forming, there was none to be found. In fact, for a Friday afternoon, the lobby area seemed unusually quiet. We ended up being first in the line. As people started trickling in behind us, the biggest difference between this show and others premiers I attended became clear: that sense of community was gone.

Everyone in line kept to themselves. There was no talking among groups of people, and all the conversations seemed more subdued than normal.

When we were allowed into the theater, an employee told us that bags and purses were going to be checked. There were some murmurs from the people behind us, but the loudest comment I heard was, “Well, that makes sense.”

As we sat in the theater waiting for the film to start, and the theater filled with more and more people, it appeared to me that one of the many casualties of the shootings was that sense of trust, of comfort and relaxation that is part of going to a movie.

Yet, once the trailers started showing, a palpable easing of the atmosphere settled into the theater. People started leaning back into their seats, a young man sitting next to my brother started chatting with him, and it occurred to me that perhaps that community feeling wasn’t lost — just damaged, but not beyond repair.

As the film ended, the theater was momentarily filled with applause. I looked around and thought the same thing others have said over and over this weekend: Despite what has happened, we are still one.


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