15 November 2009

Still wouldst thou sing

I used to be pretty precious about film credits, as in my bum would not leave my seat until the very last name reverse-abseiled over the top of the screen. Nowadays nothing can keep me in the theatre beyond the plot, not even amusing outtakes or charming vignettes of our beloved characters.

Last night I went to see Bright Star at the cinema up the road, and apart from it being a very quiet, somber sort of narrative with few opportunities to unwrap your Oreos or fiddle with your strawberry pencils (not a euphemism, but go ahead and enjoy that), it is the credits that constitute the true test of a film lover’s endurance. After the final scene, the roll call began its dutiful climb skywards and the theatre was just bustling to life when, suddenly, the voice of the actor playing Keats started to read out “Ode to a Nightingale.”

The weary rustle of coat gathering rippled to a halt.

Nobody was going to be the sort who would walk out on a poetry reading just to save themselves an extra five minutes, and so we sat respectfully, silently, as the ghost of Keats read out line after haunting line. The poem lasted the length of the credits, which is a long time for a stuffy theatre full of strangers to sit in mutual reverence of a disembodied voice.

I’m not overly familiar with the poem, but by the time Whishaw read out “Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades” most of us felt pretty confident that we’d be queuing for the toilet stalls within moments. The reading did end fairly soon after this, but not for another stanza or so. As the screen blipped into darkness, nobody dared move from their seat – it wasn’t a spell, so much as a reluctance to break the spell, should one be in the midst of occurring for somebody else.

And then I grabbed my stuff and made for the door. It totally wigged me out.

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