Last night I did something I had not done in many years, I went with my friends to the drive in. Yes, the drive in, this old fashioned, archaic system of watching moving pictures still exists and is used by many people. You would have thought after all the technical advances in motion picture, the ‘Drive in’ would cease to exist. On the contrary, it’s alive and well.
Let me set the scene for you, Friday evening, a group of youngsters with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Clubbing? Nope we have already been to every club in JHB. Restaurants? Nope, we have no money. Stay at home and watch TV? Nope none of us own a house, or, TV. How about the drive in? The drive in? What pray tell is this ‘drive in’ you speak of? Well you see we all squash into a few cars, get blankets, sweets, crisps and drinks and you watch a movie in your car. And don’t forget to tune your radio, movies need sound.
The Drive in, what a wonderful mix of movie enthusiasts, some come to spend time with friends, others to get drunk and pass out, some to get naked and go wild in the back seat of their cars, and the fair few who come to watch the movie. Once you get over the naked man in his new E-class getting undressed and the noisy drunks, on the left side of the lot, you actually begin to have fun, and enjoy the movie, sort of.
Don’t get me wrong, the drive in is great, but cinemas are way better, even your TV at home is better. Although the drive in is cost effective, at R70 for as many people as you can cram into a car, for 2 movies, it is by no means the ideal way of watching films. Firstly if you sit in the back seats of the car you can’t see the whole movie, and if you sit outside you will get cold. If your radio connection is not great you get crackly uneven sound and if you came late you probably won’t get a good parking place. Secondly there is no, ‘3D’ which isn’t a huge problem, but the screen quality of the drive in is considerably pathetic, the color is washed out and the definition of the picture is of a rather poor standard. If you are looking for a movie watching experience the drive in is terrible at delivering.
But this is what got me thinking, yes if I wanted a mind blowing movie experience, I would have driven to Cresta, booked a seat in the 3D lounge cinema and watched a movie, purely for the movie. But the drive in holds an allure which cannot be put down to fact and reason. It is just not possible, you don’t choose the drive in for the movie, you choose the drive in for the experience.
Although last night was uncomfortable, too hot, too cold, and by far the worst movie experience I have ever had, it was more importantly fun. It was about being with friends, laughing about the poor picture quality, or moaning about the uncomfortable seats. The drive in is for the young at heart, the ones who want to just breakout and do something so absurd that it would be considered stupid. The drive in is all about the fun and stupidity, of watching movies at uncomfortable angles and listening to horrible sound through your car speakers. About bringing camping chairs and blankets and sitting outside your car to watch the movie. Do you remember the swings and jungle gyms at the bottom of the screen for the children to play on?
Honestly if I am given the chance again, yes I will go to the drive in again, and yes we will still laugh, and complain about the poor quality everything, but it will be worth it. Life is moving so fast, we get caught up in work, relationships, money and everything else. We waist so much time and effort, looking a certain way, and conforming to the worlds preconceived notions about what is wrong or right. Perhaps we need to slow down and do something different, something new and impulsive, reckless and most importantly fun.
The drive in may be the worst way to watch a movie but is by far the most rewarding. Being with people who you care for, and people who make you laugh is what life is about. Getting to do the fun little things that seem stupid but turn out to be great. Life is too short not to do something like the drive in. The drive in was built for fun, not movies, and what’s so wrong with that?