We have entered the summer blockbuster season. I have had a few movie-going experiences that have made lasting impressions or provided new experiences. Below are four such times – on Nantucket, in Dublin, Utrecht, and Rotterdam – plus my two experiences at movie premieres while in London.
There once was a girl on Nantucket…
I was ten years old. My family was visiting friends staying on the small island of Nantucket. We kids (two 11 year old boys, who wanted not to be stuck with me, and I) were shooed out of the house by our parents. The boys did everything they could to lose me but I stayed close-by. Mid-afternoon I followed them to the movie house in town. They wouldn’t even let me stand with them while we waited to go in, let alone sit with them. I had never seen the first Terminator and I hoped that this would be an action flick; I had a history of not faring well with scary films.
I found a seat three quarters of the way down on the right side of the three-sectioned seating. The AC offered a nice reprieve from the summer heat. The auditorium filled up quickly with college and high school kids. People were getting antsy for the film to start. A boy a few rows in front of me let out a huge belch which drew much cheering and applause.
Then the lights went down and I heard the crescendoing ‘DA-DUN DUN DA-DUN‘ for the first time. My heart pounded so loud and fast under my Hawaiian Punch pink shirt and Fla-vor-ice blue with pink flowers overall shorts (that’s how much this day sticks out in my memory). My eyes never wavered from the screen. Terminator 2: Judgment Day kicked ass. When it was all over there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation before we all stood up and cheered.
Why Hello, Clive Owen
Having returned earlier that afternoon from Kilkenny, and then having written a short paper for a class assignment, I decided to treat myself to a movie at the theatre just down road from my housing at Trinity College in Dublin. The film was Croupier. I didn’t know how things worked in Irish theatres. I saw on my ticket that I was to sit in seat GA GA. It wasn’t until I noticed that the rows didn’t have markings that I had my ‘duh moment’ realization of GA = general admission. I headed to my usual center-of-screen seat.
After finding a seat, a couple came and sat down leaving an open seat to my left. Then as the theater began to fill I knew I’d be sitting close quarters. I saw a small group approach from the right and figured they’d ask me to move over one to fill the gap. Instead they asked me to let them in the row as they knew the folks on my left. I obliged but was annoyed to loose my perfect center-center location. But then the lights dimmed and I was introduced to Clive Owen with his deep voice and piercing green eyes. All was forgiven.
The Discovery of National Pride
In 1992 Dutch author Harry Mulisch published The Discovery of Heaven (voted “Best Dutch Book Ever”). In 2001 I attended the film adaptation in Utrecht. You would never know by the large turn out that the film had been released three weeks prior. People around us outside of the entrance were buzzing with anticipation of seeing a Dutch author’s work played out on the big screen. It was like everyone knew Harry personally and were there to show their support.
We made our way through the crowd to try and get good seats. I noticed as we passed the concessions that the offerings were a bit more fancy than I had seen before. They sold wine and beer, which you could take into the theatre with you! Also, the film being 2 1/2 hours long, had an intermission during which practically everyone purchased ice cream. Overall, I was blown away by the festive national spirit, the luxury of the concessions and the heaven-sent intermission (I needed to use the little girl’s room).
Who’s the Philosopher?
I had not read any of the Harry Potter books. But on a cold December afternoon in Rotterdam, I didn’t care if I hadn’t read the book; I would see the movie. Most films I had seen in the Netherlands were either in Dutch with English subtitles or in English with no subtitles, as much of the adult population speaks English. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the first children’s film I had seen and, therefore, my first English film with Dutch subtitles.
My friend Leslie pointed out that the film used the original UK book title of Philosopher’s Stone as opposed to the US title of Sorcerer’s Stone. I had to admit I had no idea what the philosopher’s stone was nor that it had any actual historical context. She explained that those marketing the book figured US kids wouldn’t know either and that sorcerer was familiar and gave a similar connotation.
Also, the names of the characters changed for the Dutch translation (and I would assume for the books as well). I never really thought that names would be changed even if they weren’t in the language of the audience. Someone’s name was someone’s name. Hermione Granger became Hermelien Griffel and Ron Weasley, Ron Wemel. Harry Potter, however, remained Harry Potter.
Leicester Square Shenanigans
Leicester Square in London has a movie theatre on at least three of its four sides and is often HQ for UK film premieres. While my sister was visiting we happened upon the premiere for Aviator. The red carpet was rolled out for the film’s stars. We were close enough to snag this photo of Leo DiCaprio:
On a rain day I went to check out the Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith premiere. This one was a bit more exciting, what with the orchestra playing the soundtracks while the films played on a screen, not to mention the life-size fighter plane (fans, please forgive me my ignorance on the actual name) complete with its own R2-D2.