After several years hiatus, I have gone back to the cinema to watch the new Star Wars movie, which also happens to be the first time ever I watched a movie with captions.
Due to many years of bad experiences when going to the cinema, I was never enthusiastic like others when a new must-see movie comes out, mainly becaus I have never came out enjoying the experience nor have I ever managed to understand the story lines, simply because I couldn’t hear what was said.
But on this occasion, I have decided to watch ‘Rise of the Skywalker’ with my wife during the holidays and experience watching it with captions myself.
Please note that it is not a review of the movie nor will there be any spoilers. It’s just a personal story of how it went for me and what could be done to make the cinema experience even more accessible for more people.
You can watch the video…:
…listen to the podcast…:
…or read on below for the transcript of the podcast.
Well that was an experience. The first time in two years I went back to the cinema to watch the new Star Wars movie, ‘Rise of the Skywalker’.
And it’s the first time in two years, because I had just been fed up of the cinema. A couple of years ago, I went to watch the Avengers: Infinity Wars and I had a terrible time. I was just distraught, emotional, exhausted.
And I had enough of it. I just thought, “You know what? If they don’t care enough to provide “the experience I want , why should I bother?” And I got frustrated, ended it.
And I didn’t go for two years, until, yesterday, at the time of recording, I was to see the new Star Wars movie. It’s not just the first time I went back to the cinema, but it’s also the first time ever, I went to watch a movie with subtitles, with captions.
I thought I would give it a shot and it’s a good time for me, because it’s during the holidays right now.
So there are more flexibility in time in terms of, not worrying about coming home late with my wife, who is also off during the holiday, from the next day, which is today. And it just made it easier.
So we thought, “Let’s just go watch the new Star Wars movie “and give it a shot as well.”
I just want to be very clear though, that I’m not going to be doing a review of the film itself. I’m not going to be talking about whether it’s good or bad, the new Star Wars movie. This is not what this is about.
And I don’t want to focus on that. It’s just about my own captioned cinema experience and I want to share my own thoughts about that, and also what could be done to be better?
Because it’s not perfect, but there are things that could be tweaked upon. So, just focus on that. Not about the Star Wars movie, I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed it. But, let’s just focus on the whole experience itself.
On this occasion, I went to one of the bigger cinema chains in the UK, it’s called Odeon. And it’s in particularly called the Odeon Luxe. I think Luxe is like the luxury experience, you got a recliner and all these things.
So, I went to that one, just because of the time and it suited at that time. It’s not because I prefer that one or any other.
So just a general experience of that. And I have a feeling that, even though I’m going to be talking about Odeon, I’m sure very sure, that it should apply to other cinema chains as well. So it’s going to be relevant across board.
So let’s talk about the actual film itself and the caption of it and yes, it was fully captioned and I think it’s great that I went to see the very first captioned movie ever is Star Wars.
1. It’s fully captioned
Because there will be certain things that’s hard to hear, like all the sound effect and the noises and the alien language that was actually being said out loud and it’s very hard to hear them and hard to work out whether they’re speaking in alien languages or not.
But they’ve captioned everything and when I say captioned, not subtitled, because, there are differences. Even though in the UK, they call it subtitle, but there are differences between captions and subtitles.
What’s the Difference Between Captions & Subtitles?
Click below to learn more
But, a caption, which means that, all the sound effect, all the background noise, everything around that person speaking, was just really clearly laid out.
2. Easier to understand “alien languages” and accents
When someone is speaking in some kind of alien languages, it said at the bottom, speaking in alien languages. So I didn’t need to worry about hearing that.
There were times where in an “alien accent”, but they were speaking in English, which means that I needed to hear that, but I couldn’t. So the caption itself was very, very useful.
So the fact that it was fully done like that, was brilliant. It actually was, it was brilliant. Because obviously, there would be certain words that I would not get, it’s not an everyday word. There would be certain things in there that I just don’t know what they’re saying. So, they’ve captioned it actually like the max in my opinion.
3. One particular scene that was very well captioned
There was one particular scene where I was actually very impressed. It was a scene where there were a lot of people talking in the background. But as if it’s like a dream. You can hear voices in your dream and there are multiple different people speaking.
In the caption itself, it say the name of the person and then the double quote on, and what that person is saying. And it kept changing to a different person and a different person.
That was brilliant. And I have to give credit where credit is due, because that was very, very important.
I would not have been able to realise that there were different people speaking and also, I would not have been able to realise that those people were speaking, they were actually very, very important to know, that it was those particular people were saying those phrases in that dream voices in your head kind of thing.
If you ever watch it, you’ll get it. It’s near the end. You’ll understand what I mean, but that was so, so important.
But of course, there were a few things that I have to mention and they were issue that I just don’t understand why that exist, if you’re going to say that this experience going to be subtitled, going to be captioned, then you want to do that.
1. Adverts were not captioned
So it was a big surprise for me when I was there the adverts started and they were not captioned.
Now okay, maybe it’s not a big deal. Nobody likes adverts shown in their faces, but part of it’s the experience, you just want to watch and get involved.
2. Trailers for upcoming new releases were not captioned
So, the adverts were not captioned. I found that very, very surprising and then on top of that, forget the advert, let’s move on to the trailers. Guess what? The trailers were not captioned. And I was really confused. I was like, “Why not?” It just didn’t make sense to me, that they didn’t caption the trailers.
I was not able to even get the concept of what the upcoming movie is about, which defeats the purpose, because you want those same people to come back and watch the movies, wouldn’t you?
3. Forced to view on smaller screens and lesser sound quality
One of my biggest issue about the cinema experience on this particular occasion, but it also applies to all the cinema chains is that, you’re not able to experience the full cinema experience, in terms of the bigger screen, the bigger sound effects and all these things that you pay money for, a lot of money for, when you go to the cinema.
Because I’ve noticed, when I checked for the captioned screening for Star Wars and even others in the past, they always place that movie in the smaller screen, the smaller room, with less seats. Which means I will never ever be able to experience that big, big ultimate experience.
And on a lot of occasion, you can’t even watch it in 3D as well. And you can’t even get that amazing sound effect, that surround sound, even though it was good, but there are other versions that are supposed to be even better and that’s not available.
And I just don’t understand why that is not available. Is it because of a money thing? Or nobody will go? Is it because nobody wants it?
I disagree, I think people do want that. It’s not just about not being able to hear. We can hear, a lot of us can hear these things and you want to experience that and you want to have that bigger screen, as well. You pay for that. But that option was not available.
I’ve noticed when you see these multiple screens of the same movie, you have the, let’s just say “the ultimate experience”, but then you have the call it, “standard experience” and you pay for the same price of the two.
So, I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that’s even fair, I mean, I wanted to watch it in a bigger screen. That’s why I wanted to go to the cinema and that’s why I wanted to watch in particular Star Wars. I’m a fan and I want to watch it in the main experience. But that option was not available and I think that is a shame.
4. Cinemas remove captioned screenings after a period of time
Another thing that I’m using my own experience in, not just on this occasion, but in the past, is that after a while, all cinemas in Edinburgh anyway, I don’t know about other places, they remove the caption screening of those films.
I remembered one time I wanted to watch The Avengers: Endgame and I think I left it a few weeks after the release date, or something like that. And, I couldn’t go for a while, for other reasons and because the timing was not great, and I’ll talk about that in a minute.
But, the fact that after about a month or whatever, they actually then stopped showing the captioned screening full stop. But they continued showing the screening of those movies anyway, but obviously, they’re not captioned at all.
And that was frustrating.
And I know that if I check for the same screening time and even just in other cinemas, in a few weeks time, in a month time, I’m very certain they will be removed and the standard one without any caption, without any audio description and things like that, they will be removed.
Again, maybe I don’t know the full picture behind the scene, why they do it, but still, I would like to have the option and you don’t have that option, I’m afraid.
So as soon as the movie is released, you actually have to go quickly. You are racing against time.
Not everybody wants to go on a day of release. Not everyone can do that and not everyone can or want to go within the first couple of weeks.
Maybe they want to wait longer, maybe they were away, maybe they have other plans. They will have removed it, if you don’t go quickly, those caption screening.
That’s also a shame.
5. Captioned screenings options are limited and shown during unsociable hours
And then still the biggest issue of the entire thing that people complain about is that, it’s still unsociable hours. So when I went to watch Star Wars, it was on a Sunday evening.
Now Sunday evening is not bad, it was on at 7pm. and it meant that we were home around 10pm. Not bad, but still, for some people, that have work on Monday morning, if I was going to be, going to a job on a Monday morning early.
Or if my wife had been working on Monday morning, whether we would go or not, I don’t know. I don’t know if we would go and stay out late and make an experience, all that kind of stuff.
So the timing, again, it’s just same old problem I’ve seen before. It’s on the unsociable hour, unsociable time, during the day. There were options such as Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon. I’ve noticed that as well, in Edinburgh. I don’t know about other places.
So again, it’s not like we had a lot of choices anyway. It’s bad enough that we have to watch it quickly, because they’re going to remove the caption screening, but, even then, we have to go with the time that suits them, not suits us.
So we’ll not be able to go on a Friday night, or a Saturday night, kind of thing. And that’s when sometimes I really want to go during that time. So, the same problem exists.
The unsociable hours are still there.
Most (or all) viewers were not d/Deaf or hard of hearing
I also want to point out a few things that I have noticed and I observe, which is that in this screening of that time, there were a few dozen people attending.
And I could not see anyone, signing, so that gave me impression that none of them are profoundly deaf. None of them were speaking sign language as their first language.
And a lot of them were whispering, so, for me, I couldn’t whisper or receive it, because I would not be able to hear that. So, just based on that alone, I’m going on the assumption that the majority of your audience were actually not deaf or hard of hearing.
I have noticed one or two, that had hearing aids on, so that suited them fine. And then there were one or two others they went alone and they wanted to watch it by themselves and that was fine, but I don’t know if they are d/Deaf or hard of hearing.
But, it just shows that, you don’t have to be d/Deaf or hard of hearing to enjoy that film. It’s not just for deaf people. It’s not just for hard of hearing people. It’s for more people than you think and I’ve talked about that, about the benefits of subtitles and captions.
I’ve talked about that and it just showed, this experience alone and based on the article I put together, that captions are not just for d/Deaf people, hard of hearing people.
So many other people can benefit from that and I’ve witnessed that first hand in a cinema, just based on a quick observation that people were whispering and nobody was signing.
What are the Benefits of Subtitles/Captions?
They are not just for the d/Deaf and hard of hearing people
So it just shows that people do want it for other reasons as well. So that’s kind of the wind up of the positive and the negative.
Will cinema brands improve experiences for us?
Really right now it’s about, what can cinemas do to do better? Maybe they will all come together and do something. Maybe one brand will stand out and be above the rest and jus stand out from a crowd and they will provide a proper full cinema experience.
Because, even though I came out feeling really happy that for the first time in my life, I came out of a cinema understanding everything, understanding story, the context, the whole lot. I actually did that.
And yes, I should be grateful and I am that I am lucky enough in this country that I can do that. However, things can still be improved and I think that applies to everything anyway.
Things can always be improved. We can always improve something that we’re working on and cinemas can do better and I’ve provided a few suggestions and there are things I’m sure going on in the background, from other people, who are trying to make it more accessible for.
It’s not just for myself and deaf people, but, for other people as well, because, everyone deserve to have that experience in a cinema.
And for the first time in my life, after a few decades of going to cinemas, this is the first time I came out, feeling I like, was “normal”, if you like. Feeling that I was part of the conversation, the group of people excited and happy and enjoyed it and all these things.
I want more of that. But I also want to have the same experience as everyone else and I’m sure other people would want that as well.
Thankfully, there are campaigns going on in the background to improve cinema experiences for deaf and hard of hearing people. You can check that out in the description.
And there’s a petition going on to kind of encourage them to do that, because there are so many benefits of doing that. Hopefully, it will get better, but for now, I am grateful that I’ve had that experience.
So, overall, it was a great experience. Things could be better, but I enjoyed the movie. It was nice to kind of come out feeling like I enjoyed it, I understood it and I was able to talk about it.
That was mind-blowing!
It sounds very trivial and a small thing, but it’s mind-blowing to me that I actually can do that. I’ve never done that before in my life.
Hopefully, that will give you some ideas of my own experience. I would love to know if you have your own experiences of going to captioned screening and if not, do you think I was right?
Do you think I should maybe do something about it? Do you think we should all do something about it? Could things be better? Do you agree with me?
Let me know what your thoughts about it in the comments, because I would love to open up debate, a discussion about it, because, I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s feeling like that.
But it’d be good to know from your own experiences what you think as well.
Thanks very much for tuning in. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you appreciate what I’m going through and appreciate other people, what they’re going through, when they’re going to the cinema as well, especially those who are deaf and hard of hearing.
If you enjoyed it, make sure you hit the subscribe and I would love to speak to you again in the future, about all things related to deafness and hopefully, you will enjoy it in the future as well.
In the meantime, I will speak to you again soon.
- The power of non-verbal communication & how deaf people depends on it - August 5, 2020
- My personal viewpoint on the definition of deaf* - July 30, 2020
- Hearing privilege: What is it and why it’s important to acknowledge them? - July 23, 2020