My friend, Septic Tank, likes to watch films with the audio description on. It saves her husband the bother of having to listen out for that often asked question “What’s happening now?” There will be no snoozing in the cinema for him without the sought after audio description.
She and I had a concerted effort to see more theatre and despite our distain for the musical, we couldn’t resist #Fiddler on the Roof. We’re soppy like that. There were a couple of audio described performances, one of which happened before it officially opened and one soon after that. Perhaps management was worried about my critical eye. Nobody told us that out of a total run of months we had a choice of two. Blink and you’ve missed it.
“Thank you for helping us identify a training issue,” the shift supervisor at #The Vue said after the latest audio description failure. “The Manager will be in touch with you within two weeks.” She gave me two more free tickets which I’ve lost. I never heard from them again. Needless to say, they heard from me. One more crack pot blinky with too much time on their hands and nothing better to do couldn’t move them to break their silence.
No matter how many times I say “don’t”, even the best of friends can’t help but interpret rather than describe the action, and often predict what is going to happen next. They can no more resist a helpful “told you so” than chocolate. Art reflect life.
Audio description is proving illusive. Friends are good humoured about it, but its hard to follow the audio description rules and I don’t always end up sitting next to the perfect commentator. Professional audio description is the best. It’s the difference between “they kiss with increasing passion…he pulls her towards him…he gently lowers her to the ground…..light fades” being piped privately through headphones in to your ears, or the person next to you leaning in and, to the annoyance of everyone around you, saying in an audible whisper “They’re shagging.”
The flatmate has a predisposition to fall asleep at the cinema. How soon she falls asleep and how loudly she snores is directly inverse to the price of the ticket. The more expensive the ticket the sooner she slumps and starts to snort. Asking for regular updates is a public service that saves my fellow film goers from unnecessary auditory distractions because it keeps her awake. She usually responds to the “what’s happening now?” question, even if her head is down and her eyes closed. I’ve only had to slap her once.
I took number two God daughter and her brother to see #Warhorse. It wasn’t audio described and no one attempted to tell me what was going on until a small child leant in and whispered very slowly in my ear, “They’re speaking German now so you won’t be able to understand what’s going on. I’ll translate if you like.”
“That’s alright,” I said, not wanting to be outwitted by a seven-year old. “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Hoisted by my own petard, he helpfully provided a description in German. Afterwards he said that he had never known I spoke German. “Let’s go for a pizza,” I said, but only if we speak English or French.”
“Merci,” he said.
I went with The Dynamo to watch #1917 (one hell of a film). The cinema was half empty and everyone had decided to sit in the middle, so we were completely surrounded, which made me think twice before asking “what’s happening now?”
“I’m not really sure,” she said. “Hard to describe.”
Cinema is definitely better with a professional whisper in the ear.