I have a secret hobby: going to the movies alone. Why is it a secret? It’s not because of embarrassment, but because I don’t want to let other people know about the joy of going to the movies alone. I do watch movies with my friends for new movies such as the new Spider-Man series. But, sometimes, I know that some of my friends are unwilling to watch the movies that I want to watch. So, I decided, I’d rather go by myself! It all started with this reason. But, the joy of going to the movies alone is more than that.
I’ll tell you about the beginning of this secret hobby. It was July of 2021. I was 19 at that time, enjoying summer break. As you might know, April Fool’s day is the death anniversary of Leslie Cheung, the most beloved Hong Kong movie star. Korean fans still extremely miss him (my mom was also one of his fans in her youth). So, every April, it’s an annual tradition of Korean cinema to re-release the most beloved movies from Leslie’s filmography. I went to the movie theater with my friend to watch “Farewell My Concubine.” On the way back home, I decided, “Gosh, I will watch all the movies starring Leslie.” Then, I went to watch “Happy Together” with that same friend.
Deeply touched, I eventually fell in love with Wong Kar-wai’s films, and I made the same decision to watch all of them. Six movies from his filmography were re-released at that time, and the next target was “In the Mood for Love.” But, something unexpected happened. I got into an argument with the only friend who shared the same movie taste as me. We didn’t contact each other for a month (fortunately, we have since reconciled). I lost my companion to watch movies with.
The problem is, re-released movies are screened for only a short period of time — usually for less than two weeks. I couldn’t wait for our reunion. I had to watch the movie right then because, otherwise, I would miss this amazing opportunity to watch “In the Mood for Love” in the theater. You know, watching movies in the theater is totally different from watching them with a laptop or television. I decided, “I’m going to the cinema by myself.”
It was weird at first. I was worried about people judging me, “Why did she come to the movie theater alone? Maybe she doesn’t have friends to come with.” But, if you look around the movie theater carefully, there are so many people who come to the cinema alone. No one judges you. Feeling comfortable, I sat down alone. Wow — I felt freedom. You know, being with someone else is exciting, but it also means that you always have to talk to that person. You have to be conscious of that person for every moment. If I come to the movie theater with friends, I feel awkward for any silence between advertisements or closing credits going up after the movie is over. Going to movies alone frees you from such little issues.
Also, no one cares about your reaction to the movie. Most importantly, you can cry! Without being conscious of the person sitting next to you, I fall into the world of the movie, feel the emotion and express it. This might sound weird, but I love to cry in the movie theater. It just makes my experience with that movie much more precious and memorable. When you’re with someone else, you might have to hold in the tears. Or, you might face each other with red eyes after the movie is over. It is funny, but awkward at the same time.
Lastly, you can truly feel the movie. When I went to the movies with friends or family, we never waited for the ending of closing credits. We just get up and leave the theater as soon as the movie is over. When I go to movies alone, I watch the closing credits until the end. Listening to the background music, recalling the climax of movies, feeling the thoughts and emotions that the movie has given to me, I fall into meditation. It is still kind of sad to have no one beside you to talk and debate about the movie afterward, but going to a movie alone is the best way to “digest” them. Tip: Go to Spotify or Youtube and listen to the background music on the way back home. It just deepens and keeps your thoughts about the movie.
After watching “In the Mood for Love” by myself, even after I reconciled with my friend, I went to the cinema alone. I truly enjoyed it. I watched “Fallen Angels,” “Days of Being Wild” and “Ashes of Time” by myself by the end of July. I watched other re-released old movies, such as “Love Letter,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and “Mystery Train.” This experience made me love the films themselves, too. Later, I even joined the film production club and went to several film festivals. Now, I still go to movies by myself. It is my secret hobby that I will continue to do for the rest of my life. If you are a fan of film, go watch movies alone. You will also fall in love.