I had a strange experience the other night. My wife and I were at a theater getting ready to watch Sideways (a great little film, by the way). During the pre-movie slide show of ads, we kept hearing a voice behind us whispering the text on each slide. After a few of these, I turned around to have a look. There was an elderly woman, maybe about 85, sitting there with a male companion of about the same age. I thought “maybe he’s deaf, she’s narrating the slides” but after a while it dawned on me that she had some kind of dementia. In addition to compulsively reading all text that came into her field of vision, she would ask her companion questions about people entering the theater. After a while she said something like “Do you want me to come home with you” to the companion.
My wife and I realized during the previews (again being narrated) that it might continue through the whole film. We agreed on a particular set of seats a few rows in front that we would move to should the narration get too distracting. The movie theater chain preamble started (“No Smoking!” “Please Deposit Trash!” – all narrated). She read the opening credits, brief as they are. One of the first shots in the movie has the word “Saturday” which was kindly read for us also.
After a while, though, it got kind of funny. I mean, the woman read a stop sign in one shot. (“Stop!”). At one point I heard her whisper “773” in deliberate tones and I had to scan the screen to find it: aha -over there in the corner, a house number! But by the end I realized that the whispering woman had been more charming and sweet than annoying, and we didn’t move seats. I came away with an enriched appreciation for my own lucidity.