Every facet of the movies is important to me. How and where to watch one is no exception. For my taste, the best way to watch a movie is in the darkness of a movie theater, usually surrounded by a large crowd of fellow movie lovers (the environment of a film festival is an added plus). The worst way to watch a movie is another matter. For years, I have maintained that the worst way to watch a movie was on an airplane. Lately however, that notion has moved to the much more available outlet of basic cable.
Here’s my case in point: Recently I was watching Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs on TBS and found myself not only irritated by commercial breaks every 10 minutes, but the interruptions of a network that seemed prone to announce itself throughout the picture. For a period of minutes, the rating tag remained wedged into the upper left corner of the screen that proceeded every commercial break. The announcement of some upcoming event wedged into the bottom right corner of the screen, and the channel’s logo in the lower left.
Periodically throughout the movie roughly a quarter of the picture was hidden behind a large thick green band on which was scrawled the logo of something that wasn’t going to air until the following weekend.
As the movie wound to its brilliant punchline, the words “I’m having an old friend for dinner” were barely out of Anthony Hopkins mouth before the entire frame was minimized and shoved to the left of my screen so that the right could be filled with commercials for the television show that the network had been forcing on me throughout the duration of the picture. What’s worse is that while the credits were rolling at breakneck speed on the left, the next showing of The Silence of the Lambs was beginning in the panel on the right. Not only did I miss the ominous nature of Dr. Lecter’s escape, but I also missed the brilliant nature of the opening of the picture. The first time we see Clarice Starling emerging from a seemingly fairy tale forest. We see her climbing a hill, and we already know that for the rest of the picture she never stops climbing. By the time the network was finished announcing itself, Starling was already in Jack Crawford’s office.
This problem not only extends to TBS but nearly all basic cable outlets who malign and intrude and interrupt feature motion pictures.
They have no respect for the movies they show. It seems odd to me that in an age when we have HD on large flat screen televisions in which the image is clearer than anything that has come before, we still have to settle for television stations. Movies are merely a backdrop onto which they can advertise their upcoming programs. Why would they buy the rights to movies and then butcher them? Do they think that anyone who loves the film would sit through a showing with all these interruptions? What about someone who hasn’t seen the film before? Who was this designed for? Am I the only one bothered by this?