‘Cinema once upon a time…’

It’s a typical night when Dad and Mom are having dinner, and me, on the other side of the laptop screen, doing some of my trivial stuff. We are on Facetime together. 

  • Nhi! – it’s my Dad calling my name that catches my attention.
  • Yes, Daddy?
  • A few weeks ago you interviewed Mommy about her TV memories right? How’re you going with that blog post?
  • Good, Daddy! Mom gave me such a beautiful story!
  • You know darling, I can also give you a beautiful story too if you want! It’s unfair just having Mommy on your media space but excluding Daddy!
  • Oh okay! I do have a topic this week about cinema watching. Do you want to have a quick snapshot of your memory then give me the permission to interview you then later on writing about your experiences?
  • Yes, honey, I’m always ready…


Hagerstrand in his study about time-geography model of society mentioned three limitations (or constraints) in the space-time path that governed human spatial activity, these three, namely capability, coupling and authority, have been clarified clearly within a new context by Corbett (2001).

Dad didn’t know about all of these media theories things. But what he gave me was more than knowledge about that stuff, which is a fascinating story with all of its inspiring details that have pushed me into serious thinking about Hagerstrand’s three constraints.


‘Nhi, I also have a beautiful memory to tell you…’ – Daddy, taken by me 

Daddy was still young at the time. Around 10 or 11 years old. He was such an active kid that would run around the village after school just to remind his friends to finish their homework early and come play with him. But it was a special day that he did not even care about how his friends were doing with their works. After finishing school, he went straight back home and tried to finish all the homework before dinner. Homework was done and dinner was ready, he finished his favourite dish just in a minute then went take a bath and dressed up for the night. It was a special night. Not only to him but also to others in the village.

There were announcements from the speakers around the village that the cinema crew had been there in their village since morning and was finishing setting up the tonight’s movie screening. In his early mind at that time, cinema going meant walking up the hills, through a big paddy field and ended up at the enormous stadium built by the French during the Vietnam war. There was no place called cinema in his neighbourhood. After the war, the current government abandoned the village. This was why people did not have access to the proper cinemas. It was just a movie crew from the big (and more developed) city nearby that came and brought the movies – on – screen to people in his poor little village. There was no electricity (until 2005!). Every time the crew came, they would bring themselves huge battery packs in order to generate electricity for the movie night. People could not even watch movies in the morning as the crew only came around lunch time and finished their set up around sunset.

Movies during the days were watched between people in the same neighbourhood. Everyone from young children to adults and the elders, they would gather in the stadium and enjoy the movie night. There were no agreements on what movie to be seen together as people often had no choices. Normally the crew would decide the film. Black and white movies about what the government had done in order to win the war were the only choices. Bringing movies to the village was also a difficulty. The movie crew had to ask for permission from the local council before screening the movie for the villagers. Types of the film were also being asked for clarification before being put on the big screen. No foreign films or other types are allowed except the films produced by the current government.

People would congregate at the stadium (which had been transferred into a temporary cinema on that particular night) and wait for the movie. People could bring any food and drinks with them on the night. There were no strict rules on what you were allowed to do during the movie time. Everyone was in silence and fully concentrated in the movie being screened. No talking. No phone ringing. No disturbances at any kinds. People just simply came and completely enjoyed the night. Life then was so simple and peaceful. 

After the movie, children would find the ways home by themselves and adults would help the movie crew to back up. Everyone had had a good night. And they all looked forward to the upcoming movie night in the village.


Although it was not a complete cinema going experience, I still love it until today and remember every detail of it. It is totally different from what you guys are having in the cinemas these days. National films are being ignored. Blockbusters from other developed countries are on top of choices. Cinemas experiences are being enhanced by new technology that makes people’s lives easier than ever.

But you’ll never know. There had been a happy time watching movies like since then…

Nhi Nguyen





Corbett, J 2001, Torsten Hagerstrand: Time Geography, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science, viewed 29 August 2017, <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/1083055/mod_resource/content/2/Hagerstrands%20time%20geography%20%28Corbett%29.pdf>.


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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