So, after my fourth viewing of La La Land this week (check out the review, bet you can’t guess if I liked it or not), I thought I’d take a look at seeing the same film at the cinema again…and again…and again.
Some people deem it a waste of money, others see it as making the most of the limited window in which to experience a film on the big screen, some just love a film so much they want to spend as much time it’s world as possible. I generally fall into the latter. There aren’t many films I’ve seen multiple times at the cinema (as a result of time, money, or there being too much else to see), but I’m a big advocate of doing it if you leave the cinema wanting to go back in.
My current tallies stand as:
Skyfall – 5 viewings
Interstellar – 4 (technically)
La La Land – 4
Les Mis – 2
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 2
Aliens in the Attic – 2 (don’t judge me, it was not my choice)
Obviously, when you go into a film you can never really predict what impact it is going to have on you, and thus whether or not it’ll be one you’ll want to rewatch. However, certain films may leave you less surprised at your immense enjoyment, or desire to see again. Interstellar and La La Land were two films I had been looking forward to for years (not an exaggeration), as I am a huge fan of their directors. Thus, when the credits rolled and I immediately wanted to start the film again, I wasn’t that shocked.
However, other films completely unexpectedly took up a place in my heart, without any kind of warning. Skyfall was one such film, which I ended up seeing five times at the cinema over the course of about a month and a half. To some that may sound like a ridiculous amount, to others it may even sound small (restrictions of money and timings played a part in this). Having been more of a casual Bond fan, only really watching them when they came on the television, I did not expect to love it anywhere near as much as I did. I was already involved in two plans to see it, and it snowballed from there. I did not anticipate it going up to five viewings at this point though. It is one of the great things about cinema; it can surprise you, and you never know which experience will take a hold of you.
With Interstellar, I saw it 4 times- twice at the cinema, once at IMAX, and once in the Royal Albert Hall for Interstellar Live. The first time I walked out of the cinema having seen the film, I was completely speechless. It was the greatest cinematic experience of my life (cheesy, I know, but true). I had been so absorbed into the film and so touched by its events, I felt as though I had just seen a masterpiece that instantaneously, I deemed to be one of the best films I’d ever seen. I immediately wanted to go back in and watch it again. The IMAX was my third viewing of the film, and something I did because I wanted to see the film again, but also wanted to grab the opportunity to see it on the biggest screen possible, before it was relegated to the confines of the small screen on DVD. I have written a post about my IMAX experience; I enjoyed the film a little less, but I felt the IMAX was a bit of a distraction (reasons are laid out in my other post). A few flaws did come into focus during my repeat viewings, but nothing took away from how I felt after first watching it.
My final viewing was something entirely different; a once-in-a-lifetime screening in the Royal Albert Hall with a talk by the filmmakers and live score performed alongside the film. Films like these, that really warrant the big screen, mean that multiple cinema viewings can be entirely worth it, as even though you can watch a film on a constant loop when the DVD arrives, you may never have another chance to see it the way it was intended (and with Nolan, of course, that is on the big screen).
I kept returning to La La Land (another cinematic spectacular, but in a very different sense) purely out of love for the story and the feeling the film gave me. I just have a constant desire to watch it for its joy, as well as gorgeous storytelling. Its impact is, without doubt, something that should be witnessed on a cinema screen, but would not necessarily be diminished too much on a smaller screen.
Other films I’ve seen twice include The Force Awakens and Les Mis. In both of which (especially The Force Awakens) I noticed more details the second time I watched them. Both films also held up incredibly well, and I was glad to see them in the cinema again due to their cinematic nature.
However, the risk you sometimes take with multiple cinema viewings is ‘ruining’ the film by watching it too many times, too close together (as is what happens with the short-cinema-life of films these days). The advantage of not rewatching the film until the DVD is released, is that it enforces a period of waiting upon you, allowing you to potentially savour the experience more when you pop the disc into your DVD player. Whilst most people have at least one film (or a very short list) of films they can watch virtually on repeat without getting bored of them, or it degrading their view of the film in general, this list is so exclusive that you would have to take the risk of rewatching a film at the cinema to find out how it holds up for you individually. Occasionally, you may come out wishing you’d waited, but after a while, rewatching the film again a lot later may rekindle your initial love for it. For some reason it has been on my third viewings of the films I have seen at least that many times that I have felt a little disappointed, that I had built the film up too much, or had ruined it by seeing it too many times in such a short period. However, like the true cinephile I am, I used logic (read: desperate denial), and returned at least once more, where I found my love rekindled.
You must always go in aware, however, that the second viewing is almost never as good as the first. You not longer have the luxury of not knowing the storyline or the plot’s twists and turns, even though for a truly great film, this can be almost irrelevant. However, the films impact, regardless, won’t be quite as great purely from the fact you are expecting it, you have set standards for it to meet, that you may be too self-aware of throughout your viewing.
Despite this, however, there should be no reason to not go and see a film again if you can. If you loved it and want to watch it again, do so! Or would you rather go and see a film that perhaps you’re only half-interested in because it would be a ‘waste of money’ to see something again that you know you’re going to enjoy (or would the waste of money occur in paying the same amount for a lesser experience)? There are many reasons people keep coming home with the same title on their ticket stubs, whether you want to make the most of the big screen, or you heart simply aches to be re-immersed in a certain world, go…and enjoy it.