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OPINION: The Social-Distance Network: Cinema after Lockdown

OPINION: The Social-Distance Network: Cinema after Lockdown

Monday 10 August 2020

OPINION: The Social-Distance Network: Cinema after Lockdown


After spending a week with the Express newsroom, work experience student and English literature undergraduate Rachel Quick penned her thoughts on the magic of cinema and the industry's challenges post-lockdown...

"Without the luxury of larger cinema companies in Guernsey, our small-screened Mallard can appear unappealing for many. The benefits of watching a film on television often seem to outweigh those of going to the cinema.

At home, you can snuggle up in a blanket and pause whenever you like, unencumbered by the tall person sat directly in front or the constant munching of popcorn surrounding you. 

During lockdown, more of us have turned to online streaming services for entertainment. Netflix’s docuseries Tiger King, for example, gripped the population at home and became the most watched show on the site. 

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Pictured: There are dozens of Odeon cinemas around the UK, however, Guernsey has not had one for around 40 years. 

This shift in home entertainment begs the question: is cinema still important? 

For those who believe it is on the island, the Mallard is the go-to destination to watch a film on the big(ish) screen.

Guernsey used to be home to the Odeon cinema (originally named The Regal Cinema), complete with Compton theatre organ and a seating capacity of over 1,000. In 1980, the cinema was closed, and the site was demolished to become a car park.

Since then, the Mallard cinema has been Guernsey’s only option for watching a new release on the big screen. 

Opening in July 1993, the cinema four screens and a total of 358 seats. It provides a variety of snacks, including popcorn and Pick'n’ Mix.  

When I arrived at my university town of Guildford, the first local treasure I rushed to was not the 50m cathedral or the shopping centre, but the Odeon. 

I saw The Goldfinch, a disappointing film upon reflection, but I shall remember it with fond memories. It was the first film I experienced where the screen completely engulfed the room, where I could sit back in a reclining seat and let the drama wash over me. 

It was certainly a change from my cinema experience on Guernsey. 

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Pictured: The cinema is one of Rachel's go-to destinations in her university town of Guildford. 

As an avid film viewer, the Mallard is my lifeline to cinema. Even if the screens are small and the seats are not at a slant, the thrill of seeing a film is still the same. 

When lockdown was enforced, one of the losses that hit me hardest was not being able to go to the cinema and forget about the world outside of Screen 1 for two hours. 

But since Guernsey has entered Phase 5, the cinema has been able to operate as normal, but are now faced with the issue that there are no new releases. 

Much anticipated titles such as Daniel Craig’s final appearance as James Bond in No Time to Die and Disney’s live-action Mulan have been delayed to at least November, leaving the Mallard with little choice in terms of new releases. 

Instead, they have opted to show older classics as an alternative.

The full set of 8 Harry Potter films were shown throughout a week for the much-discounted price of £2.50 per film, allowing younger viewers the chance to see the older releases in the cinema for the first time. 

80s classics were also re-released such as The Goonies and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Although Guernsey is limited by the number of cinemas available, these nostalgic re-releases have great potential to comfort their current audience.

I went to see one or two of these older films, and the atmosphere in the cinema was, in a way, wistful. Everyone there knew what it felt for the screens to be packed, for there to be an excited anticipation as the lights go down. 

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Pictured: With very few new releases, the Mallard took local film-goers on a nostalgic trip to platform nine and three quarters. 

Even though there was not a great turn-out, returning to the cinema still reminded me why I love films: They bring people together. They encompass the spectrum of humanity in a way that no other medium can. 

I appreciate the effort that the Mallard is going to, as they want to keep that magic alive. 

As long as we have people who are passionate about movies and filmmaking, then there will always be a place for cinema. 

I want to end with a quote from Dead Poet’s Society, where Robin Williams’ John Keating reminds us of the following sentiment:

“Poetry. Beauty. Romance. Love. These are what we stay alive for.”

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