Being told I that I had to go to the movies to write this blog post was the best news ever! I love the movies! Not just because the popcorn there is utterly AH-mazing, but also because I feel like I am escaping from the real world for a little while. Movie theatres do that to you, they take you away from reality and throw you into a seat that has the power to take you anywhere.
The movies, put simply are a heterotopic place. Okay, maybe that not putting it simply if you are hearing this word for the first time. But TRUST me, once I explain you’ll get that light bulb moment just like I did.
Heterotopia, in short means places that separate you from other parts of society. Heterotopic places are spaces in which rules of society get suspended for a little while, places where you feel disjointed from the world while you are in them and places that challenge other spaces (Foucault, 1984, pp. 1-9). It differs from utopia, as utopic places are something that will never exist – merely ideal versions of society. So in a sense, heterotopic spaces allow you to enter utopic places.
See! Did you get the light bulb moment? After learning all about this topic in my tutorial, I was ready to hit the movie theatre. I knew this experience was going to be different from all previous experiences, as I had never before considered the movie theatre as a heterotopic place.
On Friday, I dragged my boyfriend along to Wollongong’s finest movie theatre ‘Event Cinema’s’ – its not really its finest, just the closest to my house. I had spent all Friday convincing him to watch the movie ‘Train Wreck’ with me because I had heard big things about it. Finally, I had won him over, and before we knew it we were in the car half way there. We decided to watch the 4:15pm showing, as we wanted to miss the crowds. We parked the car, sprinted to the theatre (because it was poring rain), and bought tickets and popcorn (of course). By this time we had already passed all of Hagerstrand’s principals of ‘capability’, ‘coupling’ and ‘authority’ as we are old enough to buy our own movie tickets.
As we sit in the theatre, I noticed that we sat half way up, and half way in. Pretty much smack bam in the middle. We chose these seats, without even discussing it. It was kind of like a moth to a light situation, the seats were just calling our name. We are only surrounding but 6-8 other people as it was a rather unpopular time to go to the movies as the young ones are just finishing school, parents are picking up kids and people are still at work etc.
As the movie starts, I am immediately taken to another place. I forget about the rain, I forget about the pile of UNI work waiting for me at home. I forget everything linked to reality.
The movie finishes, and the only thing I can notice (besides my boyfriends poor bored face…sorry about the chick flick!) is how the movie theatre completely separated us from society. Its interesting, we went to the movies to watch a film in silence, yet we still enjoyed each others company as we, and the others in the theatre were all sharing the same experience.
As we walked out of theatre, two hours later I notice the environment is completely different. The rain has stopped, the sun has set and the streets are becoming busier.
What an interesting day.
Foucault, M 1984, ‘Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias’, Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité, pp. 1 -9, http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/foucault1.pdf
Corbett, J 2001, ‘Torsten Hagerstrand: Time Geography’, Center for spacially Intergrated Social Science, viewed 29th August 15,http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/29