A Curious Trip to the Movies

Late yesterday, on my way home, I ran into my roommate, a conversation which ended with my turning around to head out to see a movie.  

On Wednesday night, movies in Mexico City are half-off, which is convenient given my stubbornness about not paying exorbitant prices in the U.S. to sit on my behind.  Here, it cost 32 pesos… a whopping $2.50.  Given the price, I never bothered to ask which movie we were seeing until we were seated in the theater (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).   I’ll leave the reviews to the “critics,” only to say that the movie (plus commercials, trailers, and a little “problem”) lasted nearly three hours — that’s a conservative $1/hour for entertainment!

Perhaps the most interesting point in the movie occurred more than half-way through.  In a mildly amorous scene in Murmansk, there was a strange warped sound, like someone scratching on a record, and the picture began to bubble and melt away, as if there was a problem with the reel.  At first, I thought it was merely a visual effect intended to be part of the movie.  The only time I’ve seen the projector “melt” the film was during a Quentin Tarantino flick… in which case it actually was a visual effect.  But, here, an error with the projector really did burn through the film; the screen went dark, the music stopped, and the lights came on.

I must admit, I would have thought that, in this day and age, all movies are projected digitally, without the need of  physical reel.  Movie theaters are big business in Mexico and appear just as modern, if not more so, as their counterparts up north.  Perhaps, then, this was really only a rare opportunity to see such a gilded and notorious malfunction.  

The solution was much simpler than I had imagined; instead of using a back-up reel (if they even had one!), the technician simply cut out the ruined section of film and spliced them together.  They restarted the film about 30 seconds before the incident and played through it; however, this time, we missed a key detail: the love scene ended as nothing more than a quick peck!


México, D.F.