Me, Myself, and I (and a Movie)

How I enjoy going to the cinema alone – and how that has to to with time geography

Since I’ve been in Australia a year and a half ago, I haven’t set foot in a single movie theatre (Well I actually have, but just to see the price and had to ‘casually’ walk out – those prices were ridiculously high, compared to what I had been so used to in Vietnam (about AUD3.00-4.00 per ticket).

I absolutely, utterly, extremely love going to the movie theatre on my own, especially when I was doing Year 12 back home.

The National Cinema Center in Hanoi

I would, on a whim, decide to ride my little scooter to the National Cinema Center, after picking out some movie that was on at a reasonable time (usually in the afternoon after school on an extra-classes-free day).  And here is how it typically goes once the movie start: I would not bring any popcorn in, only an extra-large cup of bubble-tea (black tea with milk and chewy pearls – yum) – this is because I despise the sounds of crunchy popcorn vibrating through my head during a movie, which is totally distracting and can quickly ruin the whole experience). I would put my phone on silent, take occasional sips of my drink, eyes glued on the enormous screen. I had my favourite seat, of course, all the way on the last row, which offered the best view of the entire room,

This is what captures my heart when it comes to cinema-experiences. (Source: Giphy)

and from which I can sometimes crane my neck to see the magic flow of glistening light stretching from the projector behind. After the movie ended, I would ride my scooter back home, pondering over the memorable scenes and quotes, and would think to myself, yeah, I definitely need to do this again, soon.




“Going to the cinema is like returning to the womb; you sit there still and meditative in the darkness, waiting for life to appear on the screen.” – Federico Fellini 

In that darkness of theatre, a multitude of activities and events and social interactions can take place (Turnbull 2017) – the cinema space is, in its truest sense, a hub of social synchronisation.

According to Hagerstrand (1970, cited in Ellegard & Svedin 2012, p. 23), there are three constraints to social synchonisation: authority, capacity, and coupling – these will be elaborated on below, as the basis for my analysis of a solo cinema experience.

bcm241 MovieGoer
Me, Myself, and I (and a Movie) (artwork by me)
  1. Authority: laws, regulations, agreements which are imposed on individuals, for instance, their work hours, operating hours of transportation, etc. For the Year-12 me, this was characterised by the time school started (7am) and finished (12pm), the time the cinema opened and closed, show times, traffic law, and the rules on underages riding a scooter (I was 18 at the time, so I could ride a proper scooter given that I had a certified lisense).
  2. Capacity: individuals’ skills, knowledge, material/mental assets. Simply put, this refers to my ability to interpret the details in the movie I chose, awareness of the compatibility of that movie and my cinematic taste, and being able to travel to my destination – I had a decent scooter at full fuel level, and I knew the way to the cinema like the back of my hand.
  3. Coupling: here is when individuals have to match the above two group of constraints together as they see fit, taking into account time-space, to achieve their goal.
    (Source: Around the World)

    Since it was rather problematic (and totally up to chance) to find an exact movie shown at a perfectly convenient time, I generally solved the coupling issues with flexibility in movie choices – I would quickly look up the screen times on my phone right after school, to check out the available options – sparing plenty of time for travelling (considering how traffic in Hanoi often was during rush hours – after school/work). Most of the time, the back row in the room would still be empty by the time I purchased the ticket – so I had that going all well for me.

For the past year and a half, my cinema experiences have shrunken a little – to watching movies on my computer screen in my bedroom, or on the tiny screen during the eight-hour flights back and forth from home. And I miss going to the cinema alone, I miss it dearly.

Too often, people are so concerned about what others would think of them going to the movies alone, whether it seems pathetic and sad – I actually had a friend go wide-eyed at my casual remark of how I enjoy it. Yet to me, it is the rare time I can actually be alone with my thoughts, engrossed in an other-worldly story – it makes real life a whole lot easier and more exciting. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Mia (Minh-Anh)



Ellegard, K & Svedin, U 2012, ‘Torsten Hagerstrand’s time geography as the cradle of the activity approach in transport geography’, Journal of Transport Geography, vol. 23, pp. 17-25.

Turnbull, S 2017, ‘Strangers in Public: Cinema Spaces’ PowerPoint slides, BCM241, University of Wollongong, viewed 27 August 2017.

Author: Minh-Anh Mia Do

book-smart and sugar-addicted || the written word & all things linguistics || email:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: