Watch the climax of Star Wars alongside an audience from 1977

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That’s cool! Wonder has he got one for the Vader/father reveal in Empire, too?


I can remember when the audience applauded at the end of a movie. Nobody applauds Youtube.


Oh. Just me then… :frowning:


When I saw the original Karate Kid in the theater, we stood up and cheered after The Kick.


I find this to be a beautiful look back into the past at the birth of a generation’s mythos.


This must be another one of those fun little transatlantic cultural differences.

I have never, ever, in my whole life, even thought of applauding at a movie theater.
And I have to admit, it makes zero sense to me. Or just as much sense as applauding Youtube, or clapping my hands while reading a book.
The audience do know that the artists aren’t actually there in the room with them?
They do know that Han Solo isn’t real and he’s not there to enjoy the applause for his great feat of getting those TIE fighters off Luke’s back?

To me, clapping my hands in applause is a way to show appreciation to an artist (or someone else who has done/is doing/is about to do something worth appreciating in front of an audience). This just does not make sense when the artist is not there. It’s got a distinct talking-to-invisible-people-crazy vibe. Like looking at the empty seat next to me as the credits roll and saying in a conversational tone, “Mr. Lucas, that was a truly remarkable movie. I am now a devout fan of yours. May I have your autograph?”

So what’s different about American and Austrian applause?
What does the gesture of clapping your hands together and thus making a noise mean in American culture?


The people in the audience are showing each other how much they liked the movie.


And showing themselves. Suspension of disbelief. It’s what audiences do - or used to do.

Honestly, you never know who’s there in the theatre with you. A Hollywood film has hundreds, even thousands of people involved besides the ones you see on screen. There’s always the chance that you’re unwittingly sitting next to the guy who did the digital color correction for the exterior shots of that one location scene, or designed the menus for the restaurant they eat at in the second act. I know a few of those people, and they live all over the world, not just Hollywood.

I’ve actually got a friend whose work has appeared in a half dozen major movies and a couple dozen TV shows- Just because she happens to show up in a google search for “historical reproduction pottery”, and set dressers and propmasters need that stuff.


True, though I still consider myself quite safe when I watch a Hollywood movie, dubbed in German by a company in Northern Germany, in a movie theater in Southeastern Austria.

But then, even if someone who had a part in the movie might be in the audience, it makes no sense for me.
After all, I’m not applauding the audience. Until the person responsible for the historically accurate pottery actually gets up on the stage and makes her presence known to me, I can’t applaud her. Just like I don’t spontaneously shout “thank you” in public, even though it’s not at all that unlikely that there is somebody within earshot who might deserve my thanks at least a little bit. And when I make an international phone call, I don’t add “Oh, and thanks for listening in, Bob” at the end, on the off-chance that there might be a an NSA agent named Bob who just sat through a very boring phone call.

Also, even when I’m reading a book in the author’s presence, I don’t clap when I’m done or when I particularly like a passage.

So would it be fair to say that “American applause” is just slightly less “targeted” by comparison? As in “when you like a work of art, you applaud” as opposed to, “when you like what an artist has just done, you applaud the artist”?


For all the advances in cheap home theatre equipment, I prefer to go the cinema because shared experiences are just kinda nice, and cheering the screen helps that. Same reason I’ll enjoy a concert more if the audience is applauding loudly.


But nobody waited around for the post credits scene? :disappointed:


Hmm. And why would the other people remotely care?

Slightly more seriously than my earlier comment: I wouldn’t dream of applauding, or audibly reacting at all, in a UK cinema (okay; involuntary gasps or laughter aside). I’m not there for the ‘shared experience’ - quite the opposite.


It’s just a way of showing you enjoyed something. If you go to a restaurant and have a good bowl of pasta and say “mmm” or otherwise tell your companions you thought the pasta was great, the fact that the chef is not sitting next to you does not make it a fruitless exercise.

If you go to a pub in Austria and they have the soccer/football game on, does the audience not cheer when the home team scores (despite the players not being present)?


We are prosocial animals who enjoy communication with others, especially semi-anonymous virtue signaling. See also: Internet commenting.


i AM that generation, and watching this combined with the audience sounds brought tears to my eyes. i was never the same after seeing star wars for the first time. in a good way.


I saw all 3 in the theater (was a baby for this one though) so I’m of that generation too-ish.


But that’s because saying “mmm” is culturally established as a way of indicating to no one in particular that I like the food. By contrast, saying “You are a great cook” is something that would only be said directly to the one responsible for preparing the food.

And yes, the soccer fans in Austria do cheer; they don’t applaud. And neither do music fans in the pub applaud when there is good music playing on the radio. They do applaud when a band is playing live music, though.

If someone in the audience starts applauding before the symphony is over, that will not have a positive influence on my enjoyment. Instead, it will trigger some silent social signaling on my part that definitely won’t increase the applauder’s enjoyment, either.
Different music styles have different mechanisms of coping with applause. For popular music, they usually just crank up the volume to 130dB, so you don’t notice any noise the audience makes.
And if it’s jazz, they’ll just wait until the applause after an improvisation has died down a bit before they play anything interesting again.

I was too young to be in that generation. But at least I was born before the trilogy ended.
And when I was in elementary school, my father supplied me with video tapes. I still know way too many lines (of the German dub) by heart. That can’t be healthy.

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Found myself alone and clapping while watching Neal Brennan’s “3 Mics” last night. His honesty, the reveals, the jokes, the simple yet thoughtful format… I was moved and wanted show my appreciation, even though there wasnt a single person around. I wanted to be in the crowd and give him the accolades he deserves. My feelings dont explain the question of irrationality, but it happened.

Now, i would say that clapping at a movie is entirely rare in the US, I think I have seen it only a few times, probably all star wars. I think this is why the sound clip is interesting, if we clapped at every movie no one would care about it.