We have never been to the movies as a family. There were times when I would take the kids to a matinee or Ron would take the boys to see the latest super hero thriller. Typically our “movie nights” started with something available on iTunes and ended with “daddy fell asleep!”
As a child, going to the movies was an event. As a family of six, it was a big night out. When we went, we glowed with excitement. This was an experience we wanted to give our children, but not just anywhere at anytime. I think at some level we wanted to honor our childhood memories by waiting until it felt special.
As soon as we arrived in Wanaka, New Zealand and saw the lines coil around Cinema Paradiso, we knew we had arrived in our moment. From the welcoming front door to the quirky decor, everything drew us in.
We decided to go on a Saturday night to see a New Zealand film called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. After entering the theater, we selected our unique seats, consisting of first class airline recliners, and a vintage car! How could it get any better? We were about to find out …
As Taika Waititi’s masterpiece movie unfolded, we were completely mesmerized. We laughed, we cried, and we felt the intimacy of the experience of watching great art together. This theater creates community in a way I have never experienced at a movie. Most notably, they stop the movie half way through for intermission. As we followed the smell of freshly baked cookies, we wandered into the light of the lobby for decadent treats. “Would you like double-chocolate chunk, white chocolate-ginger or classic chocolate chip?” The cookies were legendary and we savored every bite as we settled back in our seats and watched fellow movie goers return with wine and cheese, dinner entrees, and cappuccinos.
As Martin Scorsese says, “Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.” We saw an unforgettable movie, in an extraordinary theater, in a timeless town. Even though we were so very far from home, the experience grounded us in those childhood movie-going moments when we believed anything was possible. We watched our kids look up at the big screen and vowed to go to the movies more often even though they can so easily be accessed at home. Why? Because is it purely majestical … For the definition of majestical, you will have to see Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
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