Cinema – we take it for granted..

P1090818Good Christmas? A minimum of fanfare and a small sherry, or were you beleaguered by irrepressible, slavering relatives “finishing off” sealed cheeses from the pantry? Must have felt a bit like Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: one minute bathed in a rosy introspective glow, hunched over a tasty fish supper for one; the next, overrun with histrionic dwarves, hellbent on vengeance at dawn. Tut.

Still, it’s all over now. Savour the silence, finish off the chocolate money on the coffee table and evict any snoozing uncles overstaying their welcome. What is 2013 going to herald for you? Or, more Carpe Diem, what are you going to achieve? Maybe simply engineer increasing your happiness quotient by looking forward to the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Yawn.

So, cinema. Wow, what a quantum jump, both in CGI (computer-generated imagery) and ticket prices since I was a small boy. ‘Erm, would you like to sit in the stalls?’ persuaded my dad on Friday, treating me to a night out. He’d noted the ruinous expense – it was about £1.80 when we last went in the ‘80s – and was trying to make the dearer balcony chairs seem unappealing.

Cinema Prices


Damage limitation, you see. It had already been an excruciating blow to learn that film theatres take a dim view of smuggled-in thermos flasks. And the bill for more than one seat was already spiralling inexorably into double figures.

It’s a simple concept, really: a moving picture projected on a screen. But go back a century or so to the 1890s and the race was on to achieve it. Aah, halcyon days, you say – Noel Edmonds hadn’t been born and people talked to each other properly, without keeping one eye on a sitcom. But man is never content; one must strive forward, forsaking blunderbusses for intercontinental ballistic missiles, and swapping family huddles around the pianoforte for television. Double tut.

Lights, Camera, Action


Blame the Lumiere brothers, if you must. Louis and Auguste – a couple of Frogs from Lyon – were rather under the cosh after Thomas Edison had revealed kinetoscopes, kinetographs and kinetophones. The trouble with Edison’s screen, however, was that only one person could watch at a time, hunched awkwardly over a machine resembling a peephole into a cupboard.

P10906101895 is the year to put in your memory bank, though, folks – the Lumiere boys invented the Cinematograph. If you’re ever in Lyon, it’s worth taking a trip to the Lumiere Institute, a masterpiece of architecture built in the Gangnam Style. (Just my little joke, to see if you’re paying attention.) Really, it’s a super museum, tracing the birth of cinema.

Happy New Year!

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