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Tears At 35,000 Feet

March 27, 2008

Over coffee with Mick Brown, a journalist friend of mine (and the author of such great books as The Spiritual Tourist and Tearing Down the Wall of Sound), in London last week, the topic of airplane movies came up. Most people agree that watching films on a plane is just a way to kill time and/or catch up on flicks you missed in the cinema or wouldn't even bother renting on DVD. I would never have watched Blades of Glory or Becoming Jane if it weren't for being stuck on a transatlantic flight for 11 hours, for instance.

But what I didn't think about until the conversation with Mick about watching films on planes, is how movies become instant tear-jerkers when you watch them in the air.

I thought perhaps it was a personal affliction -- a by-product of PMS or exhaustion from jet-lag maybe. But Mick, a globe-trotting, seasoned journalist who seems impermeable to jet-lag and has never suffered from PMS, confessed to having the same reaction to watching films on planes. "It doesn't matter whether the film is a comedy or a trashy romance or a thriller," he said. "I always end up blubbing if I see it when I'm flying."

What we couldn't work out is why in-flight films prompt this reaction. Could it be something to do with the air-conditioning or the proximity of the viewer to his seat-back personal screen? Or is watching a film on a plane a more intense experience because you're seeing it in isolation -- in your own private, coccooned cinema with earphones on and perhaps no one around you with whom to share the experience?

I don't know the answer. All I know is that by the time I was done with watching No Country for Old Men and Elizabeth: The Golden Age on the plane back from London on Monday, I had worked my way through an entire pocket pack of Kleenex.

1 Comments:

  • it's related to the altitude's affect on your nervous system somehow. that's what someone explained to me. after breaking down in tears too mnay times myself, now i like to read inspiring books/articles and use this time to get my own juices flowing. it's good brainstorming time. last flight was coming back from Arts Presenters conference and i read ken foster's (YBCA) book on presenting- it reminded me what i love about being in the performing arts. made me- well, okay, cry.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At April 2, 2008 at 3:42 PM  

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