We filed in early. A small line of elderly people waited for an usher to open the door at a prompt 11 a.m. A few younger meandered in after.
We went to two lines. One was for the people who bought tickets online. One was for the folks shuffling up with cash or a card to swipe.
Some bought popcorn.
Some went to the couches in the lounge to pick through movie factbooks or ogle the vintage posters on the wall.
Others went right to the theater to be taken someplace they had never been.
Fritz Lang’s 1931 film “M” is the story of a child murderer pursued by both the German police and a cadre of criminals disgusted by his acts and angered by how bad the (implied) pedophile is for business.
It’s also about the role of society and about paranoia and about personal and public culpability and about a thousand other things you can read on the machine you’re currently touching if you google “m lang review.”
Or go see the movie. Like I did for the first time on Saturday, as part of the Music Box’s classic foreign film weekend matinee series.
This isn’t about the movie or my fancy-pants love of classic cinema (you can thank my dad and the 1990s AMC lineup for that).
This, like most of my stories, is about a moment.
It happened with swirling indie pop music playing overhead, some woman singing about some topic that might or might not have been love.
It happened with a comfortable couch in the lounge, a dusty old library book I carted along, a big room of movie posters and a few couples tapping at laptops.
A bright window looking out on Southport and a light view into the lobby where people lined up for tickets.
Like a slow waltz, they moved in line. Choreographed by culture and habit, each participant knew their next step, from the ticket vendor to the young and old waiting to see “M” or one of the other offerings in the other theaters of the classic movie hall.
Some broke through the scene and walked past the slow dance, interrupting it with a light staccato. An elderly woman saw the friend she had been waiting for, the two women shuffling toward each other and a light grandmotherly hug.
This was the moment. This was it.
I can’t explain why this dance affected me so. And it didn’t really. My thought at the time was that this was a really comfy couch and when will my friend get here so we can see the movie I hope there are still seats naah I don’t want popcorn.
But thinking back on that shuffling slow waltz lobby, it was a moment where everyone seemed if not happy at least content with where they were. It was a slow, forgettable moment that will never happen again, not this crowd, not this space, not this particular combination of atoms in this arrangement.
It was unique, like every moment is. It was beautiful and sweet and I’m probably coming off like a loony on this, conflating “pleasant” with “meaningful.” But for a moment of sweet indie music and the promise of cinema and two old ladies’ shared hug…
It was a moment. That’s all I can really say.