What does the “darkness” of cinema mean? (Whenever I hear the word cinema, I can’t help thinking hall, rather than film.) Not only is the dark the very substance of reverie (in the pre-hypnoid meaning of the term); it is also the “colour” of a diffused eroticism; by its human condensation, by its absence of worldliness (contrary to the cultural appearance that has to be put in at any “legitimate theatre”), by the relaxation of postures (how many members of the cinema audience slide down into their seats as if into a bed, coats or feet thrown over the row in front!), the movie house (ordinary model) is a site of availability (even more than cruising), the inoccupation of bodies, which best defines modern eroticism – not that of advertising or strip-tease, but that of the big city. It is in this urban dark that the body’s freedom is generated; this invisible work of possible affects emerges from a veritable cinematographic cocoon; the movie spectator could easily appropriate the silkworm’s motto: Inclusum labor illustrat; it is because I am enclosed that I work and glow with all my desire. – Roland Barthes, On Leaving the Movie Theatre
In cozy weather such like this, I’m always reminded of Roland Barthe’s short essay on the cinema and its ability to create a private, sensual environment for the pleasure of the spectator. As if relaxing into bed, the viewer unfolds their body, muscles un-tense, limbs outstretched. Unobserved by others, and lured in by the cinematic relationships formed between the screen and the viewer. My hands prop up my chin, as I gaze child-like into the enormous workshops in Santa Clause: The Movie. Long tables spread full with hot Christmas dinners and sugar treats. As Christmas is a time of leisure, luxury, self indulgence, it is the perfect time to experience this – outside from the busy bustling cold streets of Manchester, I’m spending my time in HOME for their Christmas season. Well, maybe not a Christmas season, but an 80s season, rife with nostalgia.
I remember meeting with HOME’s film programme manager Jen a while back, and her eyes glistened as she talked about the film season to come. Christmas is about ultimate indulgence, pure enjoyment. Back to the Future and Little Shop of Horrors are amongst my favourite films in the line up. This nostalgic element, met with the magic of Christmas, and the pure pleasure of the dark, luring, cosy environment of the cinema, will almost certainly be welcome in the next few weeks.
A very 80s Christmas season is showing at HOME throughout December.