I’ve never been to a drive-in movie. This is surprising, mostly, because given the chance to partake in anything that smacks even remotely of another era, I’ll be the first to sign up. I know I can’t be the only one daydreaming of necking while the latest sci-fi thriller goes unwatched in the background. I keep telling myself, one day.
In my own defense, active drive-ins are increasingly difficult to find. While I won’t claim to be an expert on the subject, I think we can probably blame increased land values and the incredible ease with which we can all watch movies from the comfort of our homes. Surely, there’s something wise to be said about an increased cultural tendency to turn inward and something else about folks’ unwillingness to pass a cozy evening surrounded by their favorite and least favorite neighbors.
While the drive-in movie might be largely a relic from another time, there’s an alternative to be found in movies playing in outdoors in city parks. Judging from the crowds at these cinematic evenings, I’d hazard the guess that more people than we realize relish the opportunity for some quality time surrounded by other humans under an open sky.
Last week, my fiance James and I joined throngs of our fellow New Yorkers to watch To Kill A Mockingbird in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The scene was impressive. The lawn was full to overflowing with families and friends and, in the case of the duo in front of us, very amorous young couples. Many of them packed dinner picnics and set up a hodge-podge of sleek picnic blankets and dirty beach towels to take in the film and the sunset over the East River. I imagine half the crew was seeking refuge from their overly air-conditioned offices and the other half sought the cool breeze coming off the river after a day of sweating it out without any.
Whatever the reason for being there, it was utterly delightful to be surrounded by so many happy movie-goers. The sun setting behind lower Manhattan alone would have been worth the walk down to the park, but seeing so many people enjoying it together, well, that just about got me choked up. If you’ve got a hankering for a little summertime movie adventure, or are feeling bummed out about a summer in the city, I heartily recommend trying to catch an outdoor movie or two. If you’re not in New York, never you fear. There are outdoor movies screening in cities all across the globe. Check out your local listings and make a pact to go. It'll be worth it.