Apparently, living away from Amarillo has its consequences. Amarillo Little Theatre has been hosting a film festival for three years and I had never been able to attend until this year. Most of my life I wished for an event to pop up under similar circumstances —I’m sure there have been small gatherings like the ALT festival, but nothing largely publicized — and I’m grateful to them for creating a film-centric occasion for others to enjoy. Due to an unforeseeable situation in my family, I was unable to attend the first screening on Friday evening, Rear Window, but I did catch the double feature of Vertigo and Psycho on Saturday afternoon. I observed two very important instances during the screenings and during the Q & A following and I’m going to share them with you.
1. Going to the cinema is necessary.
In the past, I’ve discussed spoiling the twists in plots and how it can really affect the experience for first-time viewers, especially in thriller films. Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, is an authority on explicating plots in such a way to invite viewers in, derail their comfort, and console them simultaneously within a two hour period. He went to great lengths with Psycho to conceal the plot twist — and I’m not talking about Janet Leigh’s demise in the shower. The disturbing part is… I can understand how Hitch sought the pleasure in seeing others frightened, especially after watchingPsycho with a large group of people as some had never seen it! I heard mutterings of people guessing the next step in Norman Bates’ diabolical plan and felt my neighbours leap from their seats when the knife-wielding attacker emerged. I’ve seen Psycho more times than I can count, but I gained a deeper appreciation because I was surrounded by people who wanted to devote an afternoon to thrill-seeking and movies. At home, reactions are minimal compared to the shared experience that happens in a theatre.
2. Everything is better on the silver screen.
Vertigo is among my least favourite films in Hitchcock’s filmography. What? The supposed “greatest film of all time”? Yes, I know… I’m a rebel. I will argue with anyone that Vertigo is not the greatest film, nor is it Hitchcock’s greatest film! So, when I went on Saturday, I attended Vertigo with great reluctance. However, I am pleased to say I enjoyed every second because I believe Vertigo (and all films) are made to be viewed in a big way. There are so many details that go unnoticed on a television or computer screen from the details in costuming to the shape of Kim Novak’s massive eyebrows. In the last five years, I have attended a little over ten screenings of various classic films and I must say the silver screen changes my perspective by ten fold. While I know it is an impossibility, I do yearn for the rerelease of classics on the big screen because it’s such a shame to watch them in any other format.
Hopefully, ALT will continue to do this every summer because I’m so excited for others in the Panhandle to tout the classics and come together to celebrate the medium of film. I know, if I am in town, I will be front and center and eager to see what unfolds on the silver screen.