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Take The Time to Savour The Film Experience

by Clint Ward

The Cast of Knives Out. There is a small surprise in the credit roll at the end of the film.

 

In January of the Hudson Film Society's first year we screened, C.R.A.Z.Y, one of Jean-Marc Vallée's early films and enjoyed the bonus of having Jean Marc introduce his film and field questions after. It was the beginning of a relationship with the soon to become internationally respected director. What he couldn't tell us on that first visit was his recent negotiation discussions to become the director of Young Victoria. When we were able to screen that film, Jean Marc was with us again. He liked Hudson and was embarking on a film of his own called Café de Flore. He wanted to shoot some of the scenes in Hudson and asked me to help with location hunting in the area. It was a fun thing to do and I jumped at the chance. I was able to suggest a couple of locations that met his requirements but alas none of them were used. For my volunteer effort I was rewarded by having my name in the credits that rolled at the end of the film. When we saw the film at the Village Theatre Jean Marc was with us and as we awaited the end of the roll so we could raise the lights and begin questions I suggested to him that he had rolled the credits too quickly. That, of course was a joke because my name flew by in a flash but the comment did get a laugh. This story is a good opening to discuss the topic of the 'end credits' that seem to be more of a signal to get up and leave rather than a moment to reflect on the efforts of all those artists who deliver the hours of enjoyment to us.

In the old days of cinema, certainly in the movies I grew up with, the title and information was always on the screen at the beginning of the film and the end was the end. Here is a link to view the opening credits of one of my favourite movies, Casablanca If you don't want to copy and Google it, here is a verbal explanation. It opens with - the Warner Brothers Logo filling the screen, fade to a map of Africa, quick fade to a list of the major stars, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid, fade to the title Casablanca, fade to the secondary stars, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lore, fade to the lesser stars, S.K Sakall, Madeleine LeBeau, Dooly Wilson, Joy Page, John Qualen, Leonid Kinskey and Curt Bois, fade to Screen play by Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch from a play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, fade to the technical list for Director of Photography, Dialogue Director, Film Editor, Art Director, Technical Advisor, Montage by, Sound by and Special Effects by, fade to more technical, Set Direction by, Gowns by, Makeup Artist, Orchestral Arrangements by and Music Director, fade to A Hal B. Wallis Production, fade to Directed by Michael Curtiz, fade to black and then into the 1st scene. All done in a neat, one minute and 8 seconds.

Modern films put the credits at the end and it always seems to go on forever. Superman (1978) had a closing credits sequence, which took nearly eight minutes. Hollywood lore has it that the credits were first moved to the end with Star Wars in 1977. George Lucas was fined $100,000 by the Motion Picture Association of America and ejected from the Directors Guild for his decision to do so. He just paid the fine and the rest is history.

End Credit for Airplane (1980). They added a 'Worst Boy'

Many commercial movie theatres put the house lights up as soon as the credit roll begins and often start cleaning up the spilled popcorn before the end because the audience, except for a few stalwarts has finished their race to the exits. In the Village Theatre we only turn the house lights up, as a matter of safety, when the first person begins to leave. That is also my signal and I move quickly to make sure the upper door stays open and I also like to say goodbye to Society members. It is not uncommon that after the last of them have reached the door, I glance up the stairs and can still see the credits running. For our Opera & Beyond screenings it is quite different. Long curtain calls substitute for a detailed credit list and are enjoyable to watch so most of the audience remain seated.

Perhaps more and more film lovers are staying for the credits even when people in front of them jump up to leave and obscure part of the screen. Some audience members don't seem to be considerate of others. At a recent screening in our theatre I was told of one person who actually took three phone calls during the movie - conversation and all. It's one thing to forget to turn your phone off at the beginning and then fumble to silence it if it rings. But taking the call and proceeding with the conversation is very difficult to understand. Perhaps it is time for people in the vicinity of these inconsiderate persons to make their objections known.

I'm not a fan of running for the exit before the end credits are done and I always leave my seat reluctantly when the scramble begins. There are often things missed if the final minutes are ignored such as the special song or music over the credits, hidden jokes, out takes and bloopers, sketches of characters and photos of actors and useful information such as cast list, filming location and song titles. You never know when film creators might end with more than just printed lists. And always there is just the moment to let the music and the story of the film seep in. It all adds to the complete joy of the cinema experience. Recently at the Hudson Film Festival I noticed in several of the films the audience stayed put and held their applause till the final screen second. This might be a trend because it is the perfect way to fully enjoy the investment of close to two hours and to appreciate and marvel at the number of participants needed to deliver the film art to us.

As they say, see you at the movies where perhaps many of us want to stay seated right to the real end.