Saturday, 20 March 2010

Do You Remember the First Time?

I must have been about seven years old the first time I went to the cinema.

Dragging my feet around my hometown for an entire day - probably a saturday - watching my Mam and Dad drift in and out of shops, never seeming to actually buy anything.

I remember the boredom. I just wanted to go home. I remember the frustration at being told we had one more place to visit before we left. I remember sulking as we climbed a long staircase that I would now describe as art-deco styled, but simply felt cosy and welcoming at the time.

I remember the realisation of where we were. How my parents had tricked us. We were in a cinema that I didn't even know existed. The last place we had to visit was a surprise journey to discover the Holy Grail, in the company of one Doctor Indiana Jones. I remember the excitement as the lights went down.

I remember the thrills as Indy fought his way through Nazis and dudes dressed as Tommy Cooper. I remember trying to act nonchalant during the uncomfortable moments where Indy did rude stuff with the pretty German lady. I remember the laughter as Indy's Dad kept calling him "Junior". I remember the genuine concern that Indy had gone over the cliff in that tank. The film was called "The Last Crusade", after all. I think my Mam reassured me that he would be okay, and she was right. I remember her warning when the baddie drank out of the wrong cup: "This is the scary part". I remember covering my eyes, listening to the screams. I remember the ride into the sunset.

Afterwards, I remember elation. The film had taken me away from the dull day shopping and sent me on a break-neck adventure across the globe, in the company of characters I truly loved and admired.

I remember my Dad pouring fizzy pop into two chalice-like cups and telling me and my brother to choose wisely.

It wasn't the last time I went to that cinema.

I remember the little girl crying in terror when the scorpion attacked during "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids". I remember watching "Jurassic Park" just before I started High School. I remember my friend falling asleep during "The Fellowship of the Ring".

I remember, just over three years ago, reading that the old cinema was closing down. A new, more modern chain-cinema was about a week away from opening. I had just got a job there as a projectionist. We have six screens, they only had two. This town wasn't big enough for the both of us.

They were giving up without a fight.

I remember thinking it would be a great idea for someone to buy that little old cinema and run it independently. Show classic films and art-house stuff once or twice a day. Keep the old place alive.

They tore it down a couple of weeks back.

Indy rode back out of the sunset a year or two ago. I wished like hell he'd stayed gone. Gone where I could just remember that sunset in the darkness, the first time.


  1. They tore it down?!?! Oh God, I knew this day would come, I just didn't think I wouldn't be there to see it! I remember queueing about half way up George Street to see Jurassic Park and getting turned away from The Lion King cos it was full, going to see '8 Mile' there the night it reopened will always have a place in my heart and no cinema past, present or future will have mine and Matt's 'seats of joy'. I miss it so very very much.

  2. The first movie I saw in the cinema was The Jungle Book. Now, I've checked. It was released in 1967 and I wasn't born til 69, so it must have been a special showing or something. I think I was about five. The queue went all the way down the street and around the corner. I don't remember the movie, but I remember the feeling of awe and excitement. That cinema is a theatre now, having been a derelict warehouse for years. I go to the new thingy plex every week. The thrill hasn't gone away.

  3. Ah, getting nostalgic over where a love of film began, this is an inspiring post indeed. I was late in my first visiting the cinema. I think it was roughly grade 7. I had been to the drive in with my parents a few times but never sat in the comfort of a theater. The reason was that, the cinema was one town over and my parents would never agree to drive me there and then drive back to pick me up again. But then on my birthday, me and my friends rented Goldeneye on VHS. It was the first action movie I had ever seen (I shied away because of my extreme disgust at the sight of blood at the time). We all loved it. We laughed at all the right places, gripped our chairs in all the right places and cheered when good eventually prevailed. It just so happened to that Tomorrow Never Dies was just coming out and was at the cinema. James Bond was my new hero and I had to see it. So that was my first movie in a cinema. I remember asking lots of questions like whether or not there would be an intermission. I was told there would not be so I made sure to pee at least 3 times before the lights went down (I have proudly never walked out of a movie due to disgust or a need to pee).

    It's sad to hear that the cinema in which you speak was torn down (too bad Tarantino can't save every old theater). Thanks for reawakening a good memory though.

  4. Not much will match the feeling of going to that cinema, which is possibly why I haven't really enjoyed a screening since. The Odeon in Manchester had a similar feel to it (in part due to the chain having a thing for old art deco buildings), but that's gone the way of the shitter now. I went to one in London that was nearly an identical copy of the Lancaster one, but you can bet your arse it's gone now as well.

  5. TUMTUM, that was awesomely written.

  6. That was wonderful. I still remember my first movie in theaters was Aladdin. I was only three but I have an intensely clear memory of cheering loudly when Aladdin outran the lava in the Cave of Wonders. Bummer about the theater, tearing down a piece of your childhood

  7. Gaz: Amend with me, Brother, for our great cinema is dead.

    Tina: It's good to know the cinema still has some power!

    Mike: I too have, as far as can remember, never left an auditorium to piss during the movie. Self-control, people!

    Maf: We may have to hold some kind of vigil over the site where it used to be. I think they're gonna turn it into flats or summat.

    Kelly: Why thank you. Personally, I'm not sure about the last sentence. It doesn't make any grammatic sense, but it sort of feels right to me.

    Sugar: Yeah, it makes me feel old when I can say to the youngsters "in my day, this were a cinema!".

    Thank you all for comments!

  8. TUMTUM...sometimes too many words aren't the right way. It should feel right. It's from me.

  9. Lovely I want to write about my first time. I remember seing all the old musicals like West Side Story and Oklahoma and the war movies like Great Escape and Guns of Navaronne. You've inspired me.

  10. "My Little Poney", the movie. Although I don't think I understood where I was or what was happening!

    Loved your older post on being a projectionist btw - thanks for sharing it with me! You know that I've been fascinated by projectionists for a few years! I actually wanted to make a short doco about people who are in the wings of the art stage - like film projectionists, and people who make canvases for artists. Maybe maybe...

  11. My god, I misspelt "Pony"! I think my next post is going to be about how I become dyslexic when I'm overusing the creative side of my brain :P

  12. Yolanda - you don't have to know any projectionists to make the documentary you crave. Instead, look out for people who fit one (or more) of the following criteria:

    1. Wear glasses that change colour depending on the light
    2. Are never seen in British daylight
    3. Look like they may like Top Gear/rape
    4. Hate vampires/werewolves/Twilight

    Not that TUM fits this bill. I'm just sayin'. And for the record, Fellowship was dull. Until I saw the other ones. Then it was the best. The end. (this post was sponsored by Barry Norman Before The Onions and Roger Ebert Before The Darth Vader Cancer Operation)

  13. yea i hated to go to the movies... back when i was a kid it was the drive in (in a car) and it seemed to suck so bad. it was like wasting time, now i wish they still had them.

  14. I don't remember my first movie but I remember the first one I wasn't supposed to see but did (american a friends house), and the first R rated movie my parents actually let me watch (The BodyGuard). I also find it amusing to go back to movies you used to quote as a kid, watch them as an adult, and realize how funny your parents probably thought it was. For me, I loved the movie/play GYPSY and used to sing the songs from it all the time, particularly one called "you gotta have a gimmick". Little did I know when I was 5...this gimmick was for stripping. My parents must've loved it.

    I'm no expert of film but I have been starting to watch some classics lately :

  15. And for a second I thought this was going to be a post inspired by Pulp.

  16. I'm glad somebody got the Pulp reference.

  17. Nice trib - sorry to have missed it.

    We shouldhave plunged all yr box office trillions, my rockstar millions and bought that shit up. :D

    Sadly it was not to be.

    Consolation is Northern Morris still kicking it: