Among my numerous beliefs, one I faithfully put into practice is simply this: watch the movie credits. Sitting in a darkened theatre to observe the credit roll at the end of any movie is my small act of consideration to the art form, demonstrating my love for cinema and respect for the entire experience. No matter how wonderful or awful the picture, my purpose for completing this act is guided by three principles.
First, the music playing over the credits is often the best score of the entire film; it provides the final emotional punctuation of any movie. Further, the music isn’t cluttered by dialogue or special effects and so the credits offer a short, unadulterated concert. I like to think that the filmmakers have given as much thought to this final part of the film as they have to making the picture itself. Movie scores are developed with care and I believe the movie experience isn’t over until the final chord fades.
Second, many people have worked hard on the movie. I may not know exactly what a gaffer is or what a best boy does, but in difficult economic times, it’s comforting to see so many people employed. Everyone also wants to have their work validated, even down to the Assistant to the Assistant Director and those hundreds of names that worked on special effects at Lucasfilm. Watching the names scroll up the screen allows a moment of recognition to each person’s contribution. No movie project is made with just a few people; it takes a team with a common purpose to make something extraordinary happen.
Lastly, the synergy of the audience is often best felt during the credits. I first had this experience following Schindler’s List. The movie ended and a packed theatre just sat and listened to that sorrowful violin. That is why I stay for the movie credits, in the small hope that I might find a connection with this room of strangers, a reminder that we’re all human and moved by the common experience of watching a movie. So many people are in a hurry to do something else. For me, I want to savor the experience of togetherness for as long as possible. I want to belong to this crowd, and share with this crowd, and if I could, go out for coffee and talk about the movie with this audience. What other connections would we discover?
I’m not sure all life’s riddles get answered at the movies, but I know we still go to them. In the ever encroaching, individualized world of DVD, On-Demand, Netflix, iPod downloads, and streaming video, people still crave socialization, getting out, interacting. If an answer to living well is found sitting among strangers in a darkened theatre, then I want to do that for as long as possible – that’s why I believe in sitting through the movie credits.