July 20, 2012

Open Thread: This is Never Supposed to Happen in a Movie Theater

We are deeply saddened by the shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater last night.

Movies are nothing more than flickering images on a screen, but they have a remarkable ability to transport us to another world. They make us laugh, cry, and everything in between, but above all, they bring us together.

Events like this put into perspective how fragile human life really is. We all find meaning in our own lives in different ways, and rather than writing a post that will simply add to the noise, we are opening comments and asking the No Film School community to share their thoughts and feelings on this tragedy.

UPDATE: by posting this, were hoping that readers could find a way to constructively add their viewpoints. Many of you did; thank you to all of the commenters who added their genuine thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately the thread grew to include numerous personal attacks on each other and this was not our intention. We found ourselves constantly moderating comments and that is not what we are here for. As a result, we have closed the comments. Let us all please keep the victims and the families in our thoughts as we reflect on the events of today.

Your Comment

45 Comments

Movie theaters are our escape. Our safe place. There are few joys in the world like the one of going to sit in those seats, wait for the lights to dim, and to watch an epic escape from reality, a piece of art, a little bit of someone else's mind, materialize on the screen in front of us.

Especially midnight screenings. Many people savor the excitement of staying up late to be able to be one of the first to experience and support films as an art form.

This tragedy defiled that sacred place for these moviegoers. People who were so excited, ready for their weekend, had been waiting for so long to have this night out with family and friends and to experience Christopher Nolan's epic conclusion. These people had that moment of joy ripped away from them and replaced with terror and tragedy.

You are right. This is not supposed to happen in a movie theater. It shouldn't happen at all, but especially when it takes away one of the few joys and escapes that we as humans have. I remember grinning as the movie started last night, as I was so excited to finally be seeing this film. We love movies, and for the movie goers in Aurora to have to go from such a high, to such a terrible low is tragic. Thoughts, prayers and condolences out to all those who had friends and loved ones in the shooting in Aurora.

July 20, 2012 at 5:11PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Chandler Wood

I'm with Chandler. This tragedy has foiled our safe place in cinema. No one should have to be paranoid in a theatre.

July 20, 2012 at 5:16PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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As a filmmaker and Denver native, this brutal tragedy strikes a very personal chord and leaves me with incredibly mixed emotions; echoes of Columbine, the wrenching pain at the loss of innocent life, the violation of "safe" shared spaces, the issues of gun control, the depiction of violence in our profession (whether glorified or realistic) - none of which I am able to come to a definitive conclusion on. I am simultaneously ashamed and proud to still want to walk into a theater to see this movie. I want to believe that there will be a way for us to bond and show we are bigger than a coward with a gun, but I also fear that paranoia could easily spiral out of control.
On a different note - I can't begin to imagine how this is affecting chris nolan and the team who made this movie. Im sure they are as devastated as the rest of us - thinking about the families of those who lost loved ones - but on top of that, everything you have slaved over and created (your baby) has been eerily and disturbingly mirrored in reality on opening night.

unreal. complex. devastated.

July 20, 2012 at 5:29PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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jeff

Its a horrible circumstance but it cant be blamed on the film. The same way sick people copied the events of alex and his Droogs from a clockwork orange there is always a twisted minority who fail to seperate fiction from reality.
Also you have to think that this happened not far from Columbine, not shifting blame, but being around that kind of history can sometimes make ideas.

July 20, 2012 at 5:43PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Glynn

I believe that movies both reflect AND influence our culture. It's sort of crazy how TDKR dealt with this very issue in its story line and then the shooting happened. I've written some more thoughts on it here: http://producerspal.com/2012/07/20/the-sociological-responsibilities-of-...

July 20, 2012 at 5:44PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Joshua Brown

Great article Josh. I highly agree that film has a great power. And we must wield it with a great responsibility. Very well written and articulated, thank you for sharing your input with all of us!

July 20, 2012 at 6:38PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Chandler Wood

Thank you Chandler. Personally, I want to use film as a tool for change. Not that every film needs be a documentary on NGOs. But I truly believe that even every-day films can have a profound impact on the way we think. Even by making us question our beliefs and begin social discussions. Film is powerful.

July 20, 2012 at 7:36PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Would this have been as big a deal as people are making it if the shooting happened at a theatre during normal hours and not at a film so anticipated as TDKR? I keep seeing people associating this shooting and the film's midnight showing together as a tragedy, when really the fact is that this happening anywhere, on any occasion, is terrible.

July 20, 2012 at 5:45PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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There will always be mad people. It is infuriating that simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can get you shot and killed. Or blown up. My thoughts are with the loved ones, the people that lost a family member or a friend. I hope this will be seen as the tragedy it is and not used to sharpen any laws, or in any political way.

July 20, 2012 at 5:49PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Villi

You can't get in a theatre with a camera, but you can with an automatic weapon ? Someone screwed up...

July 20, 2012 at 6:01PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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FabDex

Prayers to the families and deep thought occurring now. As filmmakers, we cannot deny our influence on culture when bad things happen while striving to influence culture, the arts, thought and even politics the rest of the time.

If film had no effect, influence or thought provoking element to it - WHY be a filmmaker?

We are modern storytellers with lessons and parables interwoven to shed light hopefully on truth. Unfortunately, mimicking scenes from Frank Miller's graphic novel, this gunman has failed to separate reality from fantasy. But where my deep thought occurs is: perhaps he never wanted to separate them.

I believe we are more desperate than any society to have a 'conscious awakening' - a stirring of the paranormal, a break from the confines and monotonous ways of daily life - a change no matter how drastic.

More people are succumbing to fantasy, rage, outbursts of anger and drastic measures than ever before. As a culture, it is high time we go back to repenting from our sins, take responsibility for our actions and cry out to God.

July 20, 2012 at 6:22PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Well said, I agree.

July 20, 2012 at 10:26PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Roy

I appreciate your point of view but it started a petty argument already. I'm just not going to allow that for this post, it's clear people can't talk rationally about these things at this time so I'm sorry to do it.

July 20, 2012 at 10:54PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

are you talking to me or mattbatt?

July 20, 2012 at 10:58PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Roy

To you, Roy. I think it's a topic worthy of discussion but I don't know if people can maturely talk about it without resorting to attacks, which as I said, already happened.

July 20, 2012 at 11:02PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Ah, ok I missed the comments between when I posted it the first time and the 2nd time. Altho I do think debates are fine if people bash each other alittle bit (as long as it not out of control) it seems fine to me.

July 20, 2012 at 11:04PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Roy

I'm not letting attacks happen for this one. There are many other worthy topics for discussion related to this.

July 20, 2012 at 11:06PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

I'm guessing you're anti gun? lol.

July 20, 2012 at 11:09PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Roy

I feel so bad for everyone in that theater (apart from the psycho), I can only imagine being so engrossed in a film like that only to be blind-sided by such mindless violence. A truly cowardly act, unforgivable.

July 20, 2012 at 6:36PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Agent55

July 20, 2012 at 7:03PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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I was planning to see the film later this weekend, but I've since reconsidered and will put it off for awhile. It seems illogical - and it is; but I honestly don't think I will enjoy it, knowing in the back of my mind that a similar moment turned into an extreme tragedy for so many people.

I really wonder how Chris Nolan must feel. His trilogy of films has been deeply scarred by not only one but two immense tragedies. I'd probably quit the business, if it were me. Or at least take a long hiatus.

July 20, 2012 at 7:15PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Swested

Three tragedies: a camera man died on set during shooting on Dark Knight

July 20, 2012 at 8:25PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Good point - forgot about that. Pretty high cost for the sake of creating a few entertaining yet exceptionally violent movies.

July 20, 2012 at 10:00PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Swested

That creep was very jealous that so many people were paying so much attention to Batman and not to him. Pathological narcissism.

You will encounter some form of that (hopefully nowhere near as severe) as your own work gets more successful...the pathological narcissist can't come to terms with the idea anything is more important than them, and they will seek to steal the limelight of your hard-earned success.

Continue undaunted. Envy is an inevitable, yet thankfully usually mild price to pay for achievement. The fact of envy...and certainly the fact some are so envious as to be wantonly destructive...is not something you can resolve, or take responsibility for.

July 20, 2012 at 7:25PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Peter

It was a bit unnerving sitting in the theater during the first big gun fight scene, knowing that this was when it started. I started to imagine what it would be like and just the thought was horrifying.

No matter what your religion, belief, or thought process, I think we can agree that this coward will get what's coming to him, in this realm or the next. (Preferably both).

July 20, 2012 at 7:46PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Sadly, that isn't the case. Unfortunately, he will get precisely he wanted: recognition. His name and photo will be plastered everywhere across the media. And nothing anyone can say or do will bring back the people whose lives he so unfairly took.

July 20, 2012 at 8:02PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Swested

I'm mostly talking about the "next" realm.

July 20, 2012 at 8:15PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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It is very tragic and sad. Especially when there was children who could have had so many years of life to experience. Noone should be able to take that away from them.

Whatever measures are taken, I'm afraid there will always be people who snap and want to harm people. I don't think security measures will ever help that much. The only thing that would help is to identify the people who need mental healthcare and support early on. That could perhaps make it less likely for these people to go through with their deeds, although it will be almost certainly impossible to identify all people who would do something like this.

The sad thing is: at my work, on a live video streaming platform - I basically see similar kind of cruel killings being streamed from Syria - every week, on and on. The sad part with that, is that it is a nation's government doing the killing - something that I think would very well be possible to prevent from happening.

If you can take a VERY graphic video, picturing a bit of this week's death count from Syria (with a trashed body of a 10-11 year old boy among other raw images), watch this: http://bambuser.com/v/2842337

Then imagine - this is what continuously happens week in and week out in Syria (we've been seeing a lot of these streams at least since autumn last year). And the world's politicians aren't getting anywhere with it.

Disclaimer:
I work at Bambuser, but I'm not in it for advertising us - I'm posting since seeing these videos week in and week out is making it quite impossible for me to not care about the situation in Syria. I'm so sick of seeing an endless bombing and endless victim count being streamed out of Syria - without the world's politicians getting anywhere with stopping it. I'm rather hoping that other people with connections to politicians or ideas on how to pressure world leaders might see this - since enough is not being done to stop these killings.

July 20, 2012 at 8:18PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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As for politicians and policymakers: they know what's going on. There are strategic decisions behind intervention (or the lack thereof), most of which unfortunately do not account for humanitarian motivations. Sad, but true.

July 20, 2012 at 8:45PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Swested

Yes. I think they are fairly updated on the situation as well. I believe the only thing that could make them change is more pressure from media and the voice from voters.

July 20, 2012 at 9:06PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Why was my post deleted? anyways, I was saying that it would have been alot better if people in the theater were conceal carrying to prevent wackos like this to go on a killing spree with no resistance.

Example of conceal carrying at its finest.
http://www.therightscoop.com/awesome-older-man-shoots-robbers-at-interne...

July 20, 2012 at 10:41PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Roy

It was deleted probably because it is the sort of NRA pro-gun tripe that is so quick to emerge after any shooting like this. It's frankly nauseating to reasonable people to see people take this as little more than just a moment to push their political agenda upon a discussion on a film blog.

July 20, 2012 at 11:37PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Hummer

Let's bring this back please. Everyone. We posted this discussion because we love movies (and we assume you do, too, or else you wouldn't come to this website), and this happened in a place that we all should be able to go to without worrying about our safety.

July 20, 2012 at 11:42PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

As if this event ( the shooting in the theater ) wouldn't be twisted as pushed for stricter gun laws. Unlike you I realize that police & other government can't always be with me when I need them, I'll choose to take up the responsibility of my personal safety & my family in my own hands so events like this don't fly without any resistance when I'm around. It's pathetic that so many people turn to the government and law enforcement for their safety. Man up and use you're right to bear arms! Law enforcement has it's place, don't get me wrong, but come on, I don't think anyone could blame the law enforcement agency on this one. Evil strikes in unknown places at unknown times.

July 20, 2012 at 11:44PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Roy

It's sad that people ARE blaming this on the film.

In parts of the world, they have cancelled the Premiere, and cinemas all over USA are not showing it any more.

I want to see it here in NZ at the same time it premiered over there. I don't know if it will be cancelled here but it would be a shame if it was. I also feel sorry for Nolan and everyone who worked so hard on the film. A few years practically wasted and a lot of return down the drain.

July 20, 2012 at 10:50PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Tyler

There is an issue with that, however.

Brought up in a previous discussion was "What if there was someone who was armed and trained in the audience?"

A lot of people said it was good, but very few said it would result in more deaths. Why? People screaming, running around, and gas that made visibility to 0 meters, near impossible to breathe and trying to shoot the guy with a bulletproof vest?

The other issue is he could have gone in and WATCHED that film instead of bashing down the fire exit. Even more deaths had he been right in the middle of the theatre.

July 20, 2012 at 10:58PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Tyler

If they were trained they would be shooting other people.

July 20, 2012 at 11:00PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Roy

Sorry, the original comment got deleted.

It was something saying people should be armed but it should be concealed or something. Not a good idea, if you ask me.

July 20, 2012 at 10:59PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Tyler

I don't get it. Why not have stricter gun laws in your country? It's ridiculous. I know a lot of Americans love guns, but a lot of people love heroin too and one of them is a whole lot more dangerous than the other and funnily enough possession of that one is considered to be, by so many, a basic human right. Of course I'm comparing apples and oranges a bit but still! Fucking hell! I don't understand!

July 20, 2012 at 11:12PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Jason

Oh also I'm not condoning heroin use, I'm just saying that I don't understand why that is so much more vilified than something you can point at someone and kill them with from a fair distance. Heroin could be replaced with a number of things.

July 20, 2012 at 11:18PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Jason

Jason, if they USA outlawed guns, all the law abiding citizens would turn their guns in(even though its a constitutional right...) and all the people who have guns already would keep them making them much more powerful.

Remember, a armed society is a friendly society. Do some research on this topic Jason

July 20, 2012 at 11:17PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Roy

This event is similar to 9/11 in the sense that it was judged as an act so horrible, that it may introduce immediate laws in an attempt to govern the public safety. I'm all for safety but these rules and laws themselves can be controversial and questionable. I'm hoping with what ever rule or law implemented you won't have to purchase safety with certain freedoms. **side bar** If murderers don't care about killing people, then I'm assuming they'll care less about stricter gun laws".

July 20, 2012 at 11:35PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Yes, let's give everyone automatic weapons so they can prevent more of these terrible massacres! And let's install metal detectors in every movie theater, too.

July 20, 2012 at 11:38PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Hummer

I agree with Prowlaman, clearly you didn't understand anything he was trying to say Hummer. Go vote for obama again.

July 20, 2012 at 11:45PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Roy

Well, lack of accessibility would certainly make a difference. I mean, I don't know, perhaps America is too far gone for any real change to happen at this point, but if you fed that 'an armed society is a friendly society' idea to an aussie, a kiwi, a brit, etc. they are going to look at you and think 'haha oh you silly americans'.

July 20, 2012 at 11:52PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Jason