My cellluloid dreams. . . .

Most of the time I remember the dreams I have at night. They often follow a storyline that plays out very much like a film. I wake up in the morning and part of me is still in the realm of that dream and it takes me a while to be present to the world of awake.

The first film I ever saw was an animated short of Hansel and Gretel at a tiny theater in Star Lake, NY. I was three. We went to visit my grandmother afterwards, and I screamed when I saw her, because she had morphed, somehow, from my nice grammy into a witchy-looking woman I was convinced wanted to cook me in her oven. Such has been the power of movies on my imagination.

The theater was torn down a little later — not because they played such terrifying fare for children — but because, no longer a thriving summer tourist area, the community could no longer support it. Which left the nearest movie theater a winding 35-minute drive away.

Still, the passion had been ignited and I found ways to sustain it however I could. I’d spend the night at my grandmother’s. (Yes, the one I accused of witchery – I got over it.) She’d let me turn her living room into a pretend theater in which she’d pay me a nickel to watch her own TV. We’d close the curtains and set up all her chairs in a row. I’d make popcorn and put it in sandwich-sized paper bags and sell it to her for another nickel. It served for a time, but a movie on the small screen is not the same experience as a cavernous, dark theater with a giant screen and booming speakers. Where it’s truly possible to imagine yourself into the world you’re watching.

Now we have movies on DVDs and huge TV screens in high definition and when people do go to the theater they seem to think they’re still at home, and it’s not so easy for me to get lost in the film the way I used to. Which is why I prefer to see movies at art house cinemas. In general, I find that the people who frequent these kind of theaters are looking for the same kind of experience I am. They are quiet and reverential and keep their cell phones out of sight.

Tonight I’m headed out to my favorite cinema – The Jane Pickens Theater in Newport – where they are raising funds to convert their projector to digital. On the marquee for one night only: Cinema Paradiso. My favorite film of all time. If any movie so perfectly conveys my deep abiding love of film, it’s this one. I saw it at the theater three times when it came out, and I own the DVD, but this is the first time since 1989 that I will be able to watch it again on a movie screen. The way it should be seen.**

I am so stoked.

** If you’re in the Rhode Island area, or are apt to visit Newport sometime, consider donating the cost of a movie ticket to help Jane Pickens Theater convert to digital.  Hollywood films are going all digital in early 2013, so all theaters will have to have digital projectors.  You can check out their Kickstarter page here.

12 thoughts on “My cellluloid dreams. . . .

  1. I so enjoy reading your (what I like to think of as a journal)…I too went to that same theater in Star Lake when I was little and saw The Wizard of Oz….wonderful memories…and that was such a great little theater….thanks for taking me back, I do so enjoy it….

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    • Thank you, Laura, for your kind words. The Wizard of Oz, huh? Did it scare you the way Hansel & Gretel frightened me? It’s a shame that theater isn’t still around. I remember exactly where it was, but the one movie was the only thing I saw before it was closed and eventually demolished.

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      • Yes, it is a shame that it isnt there anymore…and it did scare me alot lol…did you know my mother, Alice Hazelton? She was a 5th grade teacher at Clifton Fine for many years.

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  2. Another lovely post – no surprise there. And including one of my favorite movies, too, as well as mentioning a theater that I have had the pleasure of going to and in your company, and … the clever Kickstarter insert. Thank you very much!

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    • Thanks, Ray. Watching that film on a big screen again was magical! I hope the theater can raise the funds it needs. It’s such a special place. By the way, it now has a class T liquor license which allows them to serve wine, champagne, & beer at the concession stand. I had a glass of red since the movie was filmed in Italy!!

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  3. I love movies too, although being a sensitive person easily overwhelmed by loud noises and lots of people, I actually adore that we can watch them at home now, and you don’t miss anything if you have to go to the bathroom in the middle.

    But there are still some movies I go to see at theatre, if I think it will enhance the experience. I saw all the Harry Potter movies that way, and plan to see Les Mis that way too, if I find anyone who wants to go with me. Or even if I don’t. 🙂

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  4. Oh My Dear, You are *such* a Movie Queen–and I love you for it. This is a lovely piece, and you’ve singled out one of my favorite films (I always weep at the end of Cinema Paradiso). FYI: The first movie I remember is 1951’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Sam Jaffe). Gave me nightmares for years (“Klaatu, barada nikto”). Oy.

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    • Awww, shucks . . . thanks, Andy. I saw TDTESS on TV as a teenager. I had a crush on Sam Jaffe. I thought he’d make an outstanding grandfather!! Incidentally, I did cry last night at the end of the movie. It’s impossible to not!

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