CLUBSCategory: Cinema + TV/Radio
It’s extraordinary how films, ice-cream and peanuts are sold, as it were in the same bag. What is it about films that encourage the appetite — so much so that the cinema business is kept afloat pn a sea of colas and squiashes, a raft of bangers and burgers. The stomach, it seems, is the ruler of all the other senses, if one may judge from the frequency with which cinema programmes exhort their audiences to lefap upon the loaded trays carried by equallywell-stacked torch-bearers. Is it really true that the average cinemagoer can’t last thirty minutes without something to chew, suck or rustle?
… Well, let me be honest. Never having been a smoker, I’m a wine-gum addict. I’m never happy in a film unless my fingers are attempting toease away the wrapping paper from the next sweet while my jaws chew savagely on the last. After long films I emerge with a mouthful of unstuck fillings and a stomach so sick of winegums I can’t touch a thing for a week. It’s a compulsion and there are doubtless deep reasons for it, connected in sinister ways with darkness, warmth, and the hypnotic lights on the screen. There are also, of course, such simple reasons as the fact that everybody seems to eat in Japanese films, so that one feels particularly after a dose of Ozu, or that by a similarly sympathetis process one staggers parched from those survival-in-the-desert stories. I emerged from Henry VIII (which is very much like the television series except that its shorter and the wives are less attractive) feeling absolutely famished; seldom has so much chicken been dismembered before such hungry eyes. [...]
So I have no choice but to grant that the cinema, in some mysterious and wonderful way, puts an edge to the appetite. And it seems most opportune, therefore, that cinemas should ensure you don’t have to go too far to find sustenance. I still remember with affection the ABC cinemas of my university days, where a cream tea was to be had beforehand and a giant five-course dinner afterwards and you still had change from a pound if your girl paid for herself (these days she’d presumably insist on it, but at that time it wasn’t so easy). I spent a lot of time studying in the cinema, and these gastronomic financial advantages were important to me. Perhaps the result is that I have always associated films with food, that I am the one ideal cinemagoer who has only to glimpse the wide screen, to rise, staring wildly, in search of popcorn? No, certainly not the only one; I always return to my seat shaken and savaged by the scrum, my scalp dishevelled, my fingers trembling. Too true, cinema seats today are mostly unfilled. Everyone’s too busy fighting up and down the aisles…
(Films and Filming, July, 1972)