Movie-watching experiences have changed during quarantine

William Fisher, Staff Reporter

Film As Literature Teacher Ryan Buck takes a selfie during the first week of remote learning. Buck described how COVID-19 has affected his movie watching. “We watched [“Mulan”] as a family, and I’d really been anticipating watching it,” Buck said of Disney’s new live-action remake. “As a matter of fact, we were going to take the Film As Literature class in the spring to the movie theater to go watch it, like a field trip, but that got cancelled because of COVID, so we watched it when it came out on Disney+.”
(Photo Submitted by Ryan Buck)

The experience of watching a new movie has changed leagues during the COVID-19 pandemic, not only in the physical sense, but also in the mental sense, explained Film As Literature Teacher Ryan Buck.

“What I’m noticing in a lot of what I watch is some actions [portrayed in the movies] that now would be just unthinkable,” he said, “like being in a crowded room with people, the lack of face masks… going out to restaurants and seeing them all busy, are just some of the examples, but it’s hard to remember pre-quarantine life.”

The list above is what has changed the most about the movie experience for Buck, but he also added the following.

“It’s just how easy to kind of take those things for granted and how strange it is to see what was once normal be so not normal on the big screen,” he said, highlighting the historic times we are living in given the safety regulations in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The regulations include the number of people that can gather in indoor spaces, the amount of space that should be maintained between individuals and the need to wear masks when in public spaces.

Buck has also found himself changing the types of movies he watches to cope with the stresses of the times. Usually, he said he likes “really dramatic and like more, for lack of a better word, depressing the better.” Now, though, he leans toward comedies.

“Early on in quarantine, things were really bad and uncertain and kind of dramatic anyways, so I found myself not wanting to add to that by watching what I usually watch,” he said, “so I turned to a lot of comedies– some ones that are personal favorites of mine for comfort and some new ones.”

He added he also leans toward more uplifting stories, too, “just because [he doesn’t] want to have everything that [he’s] surrounded with just to be always so dramatic.”

As of Oct. 9, Buck’s last movie was “Mulan” on Disney+. He felt the $30 paid to watch the movie was a fair price as he thought it was less than what he would pay for tickets at a theater.

The last movie he watched in a theater was “Onward” on March 8.

Other teachers who have taught Film As Literature include Alexander Kapotas and Johnathan Meier.

Kapotas’s lost film in theaters was “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” while Meier’s last movie was “JoJo Rabbit.”

During the pandemic, Meier, who is also the director of Mundelein Theatre, said he has started watching season four of “The Crown” and watched “Boys in the Band” prior to that.

“I have been watching many more movies on Netflix and Amazon since live theatre has been shut down,” Meier said.

Kapotas, who is also an English Teacher, said he thought the biggest change to the movie-watching experience was “the switch from [watching] movies to binge-watching.” He also said he misses the theater-going experience.

“There’s a restored movie theater from the early years of film nearby [me],” he said, “And it was fun to meet friends and stroll before the show and grab a bite to eat after.  It was part of my social life.”

Now Kapotas uses movie-watching during the pandemic as an escape.

“I like the escape because along with the pandemic and everything happening socially, it’s just kind of frustrating times for me personally to witness everything that’s going on in reality, so to have those escapes, the escape from reality that movies provide is helpful.,” Kapotas said.

Buck said what he missed the most about watching movies before quanatine was the naivety he once had.

“I guess I like turning off the filter of seeing– looking at [the movies] through a COVID lens,” Buck said. “Again, like I said with watching people and looking at the old normal and wondering if we’ll ever go back to that normal, I guess I would say that the innocence of, or I should say not the innocence but the naivety, being naive or ignorant or just unaware, that something like a pandemic could change a normal in such a way.”

Buck also called back to what movies are really all about–pandemic or no pandemic.

He said, “Whenever I can, I just like to have that two hours to not have to think about some of the things that drive me crazy.”