Two days ago the latest in the Harry Potter films appeared in the cinemas on general release. As a big Potter fan, I have all the books in DAISY audio format and most of the films on DVD. I was therefore looking forward to going to the cinema to see the interpretation placed on the final story by the director and actors.
As someone who is blind I depend on the audiodescription track. For those that don’t know, this is an audio track mixed in with the standard audio where someone describes visual effects, facial expressions, in-fact anything that isn’t spoken aloud. It is designed to allow someone who has no vision, like me, or poor vision, like many of my friends to fully experience the movie format. We no longer have to whisper to our friends during a movie, thus breaking the code of conduct as set down by Messrs Kermode and Mayo. In-fact we can now go to the cinema by ourselves, if we want and fully enjoy an audiodescribed performance. Or can we!
I had suspected there were going to be problems when I contacted the cinema earlier in the week to be told that they would not be showing the latest Potter film with audiodescription. I have two cinemas near me and only asked the cinema about one of them.
On Friday I received my usual weekly email outlining what audiodescribed films were at the cinemas this week and as I suspected Harry Potter wasn’t to be shown in either of my 2 local cinemas. Worse still it was only being shown with audiodescription in 11 cinemas across the whole of London. Now, I don’t know how many cinemas there are in London, but I’ll bet, and I never bet, that there are considerably more than 11 cinemas in London.
I then began a 2 hour run around to try and find out who decided that both my local cinemas weren’t going to show Harry Potter with audiodescription and get them to explain this decision. I tried both the Cinema and the distributer but got no where.
The broader point here is that this particular film is probably going to be the biggest release of the year. If cinemas can’t appreciate that blind and VIPs will want to go and see this one, how on earth will we get them to understand that we also want to see smaller budget films.
Harry Potter is just the latest example in a long line of films shown at the cinema without audiodescription in their first week. Let’s be clear, the technology is in place, the films largely have the audiodescription track, so why aren’t the cinemas making sure that new films are being shown with audiodescription. Why will no one take responsibility? We’re not asking for charity here, we pay the ticket price same as everyone else. I don’t think its too much to ask that the technology be used to give us full access and an enjoyable cinema experience.
The Government has been talking about getting disabled people off benefits and more integrated into society. Integration isn’t just about getting a job and off benefits, its also about being able to do the same things that the non-disabled do and surely going to the cinema is a good example of this.
I shall be on to the cinema again tomorrow when their head of Customer Services should be back at work.
I mentioned my weekly email, it comes from the following web site:
Take a look and see if your local cinema is showing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part1, with audiodescription.