The film of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be released here on Thursday and my brother and I are going to a ‘midnight and a minute’ showing tomorrow night, preceded by a screening of the first film. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been one of those kind of weeks and it’s only Tuesday, but the prospect of spending five and a half hours in the cinema has made me smile every time I’ve thought about it. This evening on my way back from a tango lesson where I’d earned (justified, but still disappointing) criticism for my errant elbow, I was wondering why I’m quite so excited about tomorrow night. Why is the prospect of the event, not even the event itself yet, making me happy?
There are, of course, several reasons. I’ll be accompanied by my brother with whom, because there is a significant age-gap between us, I have gone to the cinema since he was a tiny three-year-old. He used to sit on my lap because he was so afraid the fold-up seats would swallow him, now he laughs at me because no matter how ridiculous a jump-scare, I’ll still jump. There’s also the excitement that being naughty and staying up til the wee small hours midweek brings. This excitement may be supplemented by the fact that seeing two films means that there’s a significant possibility of both popcorn and ice-cream in my immediate future. A kind of anticipatory sugar rush, if you will.
The excitement is also partially due to the films themselves, or rather the books that they are based on. I have enjoyed reading and rereading Suzanne Collins’ trilogy over the past few years, not solely because of the narratives (which, actually, I’ve had more problems with on every reread) but also because I’ve shared them with people. I read the first book on my own, then recommended it to my brother, and so, when the next two books were released, we read them together. This past summer I hosted a young English learner in my house and he, having only recently come to enjoy reading for pleasure, was making his way through the final book over the course of his stay. I decided to reread the book at the same time and every night over dinner we’d have brilliant discussions about what we’d read and what we thought of it. Three weeks of eating with one hand, dictionary propped open under the edge of a serving bowl, while the other hand (foreshadowing the errant elbow) alternated between mad gestures and even madder doodles to make a point. One of things I’ve been looking forward this week has also been the emails he and I will exchange once we’ve both seen the film. (We’ll most likely break out the emoticons when vocabulary fails us!)
There’s also something wonderful about midnight showings. The last one I went to was the final Harry Potter film. Naturally, I went with my brother but my husband made a special effort to be home to wave us off (and check that I had enough tissues – it’s not just jump-scares that get to me!). My mum had been texting me all day to check that I hadn’t exploded with nervous excitement. My sister and I were set to take part in a road-race that weekend and she and her family had travelled across the country (yes, yes, it’s a small one, but still) a day early so that she could take care of our registration, leaving me free to go to the screening she knew I’d be disappointed to miss. And while she might have claimed that disappointed runners run slower and are to be avoided at all costs, I settled down to watch that film knowing that not only was my stomach a mess of bubbling excitement but that excitement had been fed and watered by my wonderful family.
Years before, a boyfriend had queued with me for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He’d never read a Harry Potter novel and he looked slightly bemused as we queued on Grafton Street amid all the Friday night revelers. Of course, by the time Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince rolled around he’d learned enough about it all to be able to hold his own in wand battles with Norwegian teenagers in the queue. By the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he’d married me and not only kept me company in another lengthy queue, but also equally chivalrously left me alone to read for hours afterwards and, at a point where all my nervous excitement made me think things couldn’t possibly end in a manner I could be happy with, left an encouraging note on my bedside locker which only made sense when I turned over the last page sometime in the wee small hours.
I never set out to make a cinema fan of my brother and my visiting student probably didn’t expect to go home with a specialist vocabulary of literary criticism. I certainly never expected to exchange literary love notes with someone who didn’t even read children’s books as a child, let alone as a grown-up, but that Harry Potter moment is one of my fondest memories of my husband. And who benefited most from all of it? Me!
Excitement shared is excitement multiplied.
I know today might be a terrible Tuesday; I know November can be a miserable month; I know that you too may despair of elbows that won’t tango the way they should. But I also know that there’s so much to get excited by and about and people to get excited with. Books and films and book-readers and film-goers and fictional characters that feel like family and family that understands when fictional characters are (temporarily) more important than sleep. So go, read. Get excited. Share it with someone. Share it with me. Let the excitement build. Know that in the end: