This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Tale of Lost Treasure...

A few years back, a producer asked me why I'd wanted to get into this 'crazy [movie] business. It's the magic... it's the way that movies--their images, characters, and stories can become imprinted into your memory. I wanted to be a part of that...creating that experience for other people.

Even as the mystique of filmmaking has worn off as I've worked in the business, I still firmly believe in the magic and influence a well-constructed film can have on an individual.

For me, it all started with one movie... and that was The Black Stallion. Few people may remember the very first movie they ever saw on the big screen. I remember it all. I remember how I didn't weigh enough to keep the theatre seat from staying down and how I was too short for my feet to touch the floor. I remember looking up at cascading, gold curtains suspended from the ceiling, just as those curtains parted to reveal the movie screen. There was no advertising, no interruptions... once those curtains parted, I was completely enveloped in a story set in a far-off land about a young boy and his relationship with an Arabian horse.

By the time it was over, I was in love. In The Black Stallion that day, I saw beauty as I'd never seen it (in the cinematography of Caleb Deschanel), I saw parts of the world I never knew existed, and I learned about the influence that art can have on a person, especially a person as little as myself.

After the movie was over, the other patrons exited, but I raced to those gigantic, gold curtains as they closed on the most mystical experience I'd had by that time in my life. I wanted to meet the horse, I wanted to be back in the story. I didn't want the magic to end...not ever, really, and that, you see, is why I wanted to go into the movie business.

I was thinking the other day about how that movie experience has been changed, even seen my childhood. We're so bombarded by the America obsession to multi-task to such a degree that we're not even present. Two days ago, I was talking on the phone to my dad (who still lives in Omaha.) In passing, he noted that my childhood theatre, Cinema Center was closing down for good. Cinema Center (82nd and W. Center Road, Omaha) was the place where I'd seen the majority of those films growing up, including my first-- The Black Stallion.

Like Indian Hills Theater, another favorite, Omaha theatre of mine, Cinema Center has succumbed to corporate development. Indian Hills Theater, built in 1962, showcased films in Cinerama format. Despite protests, the theater was demolished in 2001 for a parking lot.
Cinema Center, open since 1967, officiallly closed on Thursday. In its place? Office space-- and with this economy, office space that will probably be vacant. It's a sad thing to see... from the standpoint of a moviegoer as well as a film professional.

Not every battle, even those well-fought can be won. Cinema Center, and all the memories I had there, will still exist in my mind.

But most of all, I will always remember seeing those gold curtains for the very first time and how excited I'd get whenever I'd see the studio emblems of Universal or 20th Century Fox or I'd hear that MGM lion roar: I knew I was at the movies and the magic was just about to begin...

For more information about Cinema Center and other lost theatre treasures, see the links below:

The Curtain Is Falling
Cinema Treasures

The Black Stallion
1979/ Directed by Carroll Ballard.
Francis Ford Coppola...executive producer, Fred Roos and Tom Sternberg...producers
Omni Zoetrope

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle
Photo credits: The Black Stallion/Omni Zoetrope, tsunagan/flickr, plasticfootball/flickr.

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