I went to see the new X-Men film the other day. It was surprisingly good, actually. On the train home I sent one of my mates an email and innocently threw in a brief recommendation. Little did I expect that said recommendation would lead to hours of furious debate.
My mate – let’s call him Jim – said he’d probably, er, acquire (legally, of course) a copy of the film when it was released on DVD in a few months, and watch it on his phone at work. I suggested that films are best viewed on the big screen, and that’s when all hell broke loose.
I’ll spare you the full, unedited, thousand-word transcript; the following is the gist of our correspondence.
Jim insisted that films are only as good as their scripts, directors and actors; it doesn’t matter what size of screen you watch on. Furthermore, not going to the cinema offers the added bonus of being able to pause the film to go for a pee and/or make a cup of tea or whatever.
I replied with the suggestion that larger screens are better, period. Well, within reason. That’s why people have large-screened TVs in their living rooms. Would you rather have a 26in screen or 42in? The only reason you wouldn’t choose the 42in TV is if it didn’t fit or looked stupid in the context of the room. Otherwise, given the choice, you’d go for a larger screen because it’s conducive to a more immersive viewing experience.
I concede that Jim might genuinely prefer watching films in the comfort of his own home instead of going to the cinema, but even then – surely he’d choose to watch on the biggest screen available? Let’s say he has a 3.7in Desire, a 10.1in iPad and a 40in TV; is there really any choice?
I can honestly say I have never watched a film on my phone. Ever. If I’m on a long train journey, for example, I’d much rather read a book and/or listen to music than watch a film or TV program on a tiny screen.
It’s a similar story with those little airplane screens; I’ll rarely watch any films that I haven’t seen before. I recently started watching the penultimate Harry Potter movie mid-flight and gave up in less than a minute.
Perhaps I’m in the minority here. Maybe I’m being a big pretentious film Nazi. Probably.
The analogy I drew – and I reckon this hits the nail right on the head – is that films are literally made for the cinema, and similarly: music should ideally be listened to in stereo, if not through headphones. Now, if someone doesn’t like going to the cinema, or doesn’t mind listening to music in mono (through a phone’s internal speaker, say), that isn’t wrong per se, but you’re not experiencing the product as it was intended.
Maybe that’s why tablets don’t appeal to me. Well, part of the reason, anyway. If I’m at home, I’ve got my TV; if I’m on the move, if I’ve got my iPod and my book. Simple.
Am I being a stubborn old git? Do you regularly watch films on your smartphone or tablet? Feel free to deconstruct my argument below. And convince me to buy a tablet while you're at it. I kind of want to want one.