Talking Pictures by Charlotte Bennie

Can’t See the Picture?

One morning, the lassie who books the films hailed me from the Cinema steps.
“Are ye coming tae see “Fifty Shades”?”
“No, I don’t think so. Husband would be too nervous. And, anyway, it might upset the dog.” Then, as I didn’t want to appear prudish, I added, “Mind you, it does have audio description.” Only the previous evening, I’d read my weekly e mail listing the latest films and DVDs with AD.
“Ooh! I keep meaning to check what that’s like,” the lassie Replied.
The following week, the girls in the Hairdresser’s gave me a critical review of this notorious film and I told them I could always order the original novel from the RNIB’s Talking Books Library. “Best listen to that through your headphones,” they advised.
When we next sauntered down town to the pictures, the lassie at the Cinema greeted me with much delight.
“See that audio description? Weel, I gave it a go and listened to it on “Fifty Shades”. It’s fair amazing, jist whit it describes!” Thus implying I’d missed out on well, I’m not exactly sure.
All joking apart, any blinkie who doesn’t know about, or doesn’t use audio description is Certainly missing out. In my opinion, especially if, like me, you’ve always been a film fan.
When my eyesight began to go, the cinema was better than watching the telly. Although detail had gone, the screen was bigger. Iremember pointing out to another film goer that I hadn’t noticed Paul Newman’s wrinkles which, for her, had spoiled “Message in a Bottle”. However, when watching a sci fi film, where all depends on the effects, I was following the example of my then Guide Dog, Numero Duo; falling asleep and snoring. He had a particularly loud snore which would reduce the audience to giggles, when he performed during any quiet scenes, such as the romantic ones. An excellent Guide Dog, but not a film critic!
Then, our wee cinema went digital. Don’t ask me to explain what that entails. Although I do know there is a lot of down loading and sometimes it plays up. However, it did mean that audio description had arrived. Having spent so long, literally, in the dark, it was wonderful, enjoying and discussing films on almost the same level as everyone else.
Of course, occasionally, a film doesn’t have AD, or the headphones play up. I still get odd looks from non regulars. What is that woman doing in here? With a Guide Dog? Shouldn’t they be somewhere else?
Once, just as the showing of “Budapest Hotel” ended, the man sitting behind me poked me in the back. “You were laughing first!” he proclaimed.
He was a friend. So, I knew he didn’t work for the DWP about to accuse me of bumbling around under false pretences. I pointed to the headphones, which were still in place, “That’s why I’m wearing these. I’m listening to the audio description. Like stage directions.” And off he went, quite happy.
Actually, with humorous films, this is often the case. The Ad is describes what is going on in corners of the screen and I sit there, giggling and chortling. While most of the audience is silent. Which begs the question, as to how good is the eyesight of most of the population?
I’ve never encountered another blinkie at the pictures. No white stick, no Guide Dog. So, when I don my headphones, I can be certain the last user was myself. But, even in a wee town like ours and in such a rural area, there must be other blinkies who used to enjoy a good film, whether in the style of “Fifty Shades” or the grim reality of “Journey’s End”. Where are they? Sitting at home, inches away from one of those huge tellys? Ending up with a migraine?
Certainly, I watch films on television. If they have audio description. However, even although for me the cinema screen is just a big, flickering oblong, I still think experiencing a film in a cinema is the way to do it. The atmosphere of the building; the sound; the reactions of the audience. all contributing to the enjoyment.


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