Jacqui and I went to the cinema last night, for the first time in about two years! This is because we normally have to take an hour’s drive over to Morwell, because there’s no proper cinema in Yarram. And who wants to travel that far just to see a film, then drive all the way back home through a forest infested with kangaroos who delight in committing suicide by the simple method of throwing themselves in front of the car? So we usually stay home, and see the films when they eventually come out on DVD or are broadcast on the television.
We do have a theatre in Yarram, a Regent, which is a generic style, built between the wars all over Australia, to provide excellent locations for dances, pop groups and Lions’ Conventions, but lousy venues for films because the acoustics are so bad. At their most basic, they are very large brick boxes, with flat roofs, plastered walls and bare wooden floors. The bare plastered walls reflect any sound that hits them, as does the moulded tin-plate ceiling and the wooden floor. Drop a pin in the middle of the floor and the reverberations go on for about half a minute, (or so it seems!).
I’m telling you this because the theatre used to put on recently released films every Saturday night, projected through a fairly ancient projector, with an almost-as-ancient sound system, neither of which was conducive to a good movie, or dialogue that was even slightly distinguishable. Lawrence Olivier in Hamlet would have sounded much more like the singing of the whales, than the fine rich tones of his voice! It could also be guaranteed that there would be at least two breaks in the film while the show was going on, causing in a delay of five minutes while the break was repaired. All of which resulted in only about five people turning up each Saturday evening, a situation that could not, in all honesty be considered as anywhere near to viable. So the Regent’s life as a Saturday cinema came to a stuttering halt about 10 years ago, which surprised no one in Yarram.
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Then, a short time ago, the committee of management apparently managed to get a grant or something and they had brand new projector and sound equipment installed – yippee! The idea of showing films in the town was resuscitated, in a small way at first, just a film every few weeks, as much as anything to test the reactions of the local cinema goers I would guess.
Which brings me right back up to the present, and our visit to the place yesterday evening, where they were showing “The Dressmaker”, an Australian film starring Kate Winslet and several other well-known Australia actors in a story of revenge in a small outback town.
Well, the film was really excellent, with some glorious scenery, superb colour and fine acting by everyone. But there were two snags! First, for some mysterious reason, despite the new, electronic and digital equipment, the film still broke down six or seven times during the showing, the only difference to the old times being that last night usually only took about thirty seconds to get going again. The second snag arose because, although there was all this new equipment, the walls are still bare plaster, the floor is polished hardwood and the ceiling is still pressed metal panels, so the sound is still pretty well illegible!
Luckily, we’d had a meal at the pub, a few doors away from the theatre (which included several glasses of wine), so we were in a fairly relaxed mood as we sat down in our seats. And I must say, despite not understanding more than about thirty percent of the dialogue and forgetting where we were in the story, every time things broke down, we had quite an enjoyable evening at the theatre, which only cost us five dollars and was also within five minutes’ walk of home.
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Much easier than the long drive to Morwell and back – and safer too!
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