As long as I can remember I’ve always loved going to the cinema. The first movie I remember going to watch with my parents was Pinocchio many years back. I’m from Barcelona (neighbourhood of Sants), and remember having gone to watch the movie to one of the cinemas of the neighbourhood, Gayarre (today an apartment building, I think). Although the cinema we had closer to us was the Liceo (today an electrical and white goods shop), I remember I used to go to the Bohemio (now a car parking) many Sunday mornings. We didn’t visit the Arenas (still in existence but now specialised in gay movies and much smaller than it used to be) very often.
When I was 11 or 12 years old they opened the Palacio Balañá that was the first multi-screen cinema of the area (still standing), and I remember queuing for ages to watch Grease when it first came out (yes, I’m that old).
I imagine multi-screen cinemas were in part responsible for the disappearance of the neighbourhood cinemas. Of course, new and better televisions became available, home video (do you remember Beta and VHS?), and going to the cinema, instead of being an everyday occurrence became more an occasion or ‘going out’. Most of these neighbourhood cinemas did not show new movies but rather films that have been showing for some time and people lost interest in that. (I wonder if land and property interests might have had anything to do with it, as any plot of land to build in was very valuable in Barcelona, and now even more so). I remember many other cinemas that disappeared in Barcelona, like the Cinerama (that burned down and now it’s a hotel in Avinguda Paral.lel, where I queued for ages to watch Star Wars), the Cataluña, (in Plaça de Catalunya, with most comfortable seats ever), the París…
When I became older I made an effort to watch movies in original version (rather than dubbed, that was, still is, the usual), and although at the beginning you could count the cinemas showing them with the fingers of one hand, that became more widespread.
I was quite happy to discover, a few years back, during one of my habitual visits to my parents, that they had opened a cinema of the Renoir chain (part of Europa Cinema initiative to show European movies) nearby (Renoir Les Corts). I went often. When I visited my parents this September, it had closed down. Worse still, the Casablanca, one of the cinemas I used to visit when I started watching original version movies (only two screens, and sometimes you could hear the movie playing in the screen next door) has also closed. As it was located at the very beginning of Major de Gràcia (just across Diagonal from Passeig de Gràcia and some of the most iconic buildings in the city), I can only imagine how much the plot will be worth. I’m not too surprised as I remember 2 or 3 years ago I went to watch a movie with a friend, Ágora, and they opened the screen especially for us as there was nobody else. La guía del ocio, a magazine I bought religiously when I went on holiday, that listed all the spectacles in the city, has also disappeared.
I know the financial situation in Spain is difficult. And there are many shops closed (not only cinemas). Yes, I’m sorry about it. I also know it’s not a unique situation. Here, in the UK, there are cuts, many shops have closed and there is an invasion of Pound shops.
Why do I feel so sorry about the closures of cinemas? I don’t know. I guess it’s probably because I always felt they were special places, where all of us, together, could share in an extraordinary imaginary experience, live unthinkable adventures, take somebody else’s place… They can make huge TVs, super/hyper/high definition, 3-D… but for me they will never be able to compete with the cinema experience.
Luckily for me I live in Penistone where we have a cinema I adore. The Penistone Paramount is a tiny jewel. It dates from 1929, they use if for theatre and other performances, concerts, it has a cinema organ (the Mighty Compton Cinema Organ) and they have monthly organ concerts (and I’ve had the pleasure to watch silent movies with organ accompaniment, I can’t recommend it enough), you can sit upstairs or downstairs, they have a licensed bar, they have break in the middle and you can go for a drink…I love it and I hope it will be there for years to come. Because if there’s something we need more than anything else, is magic.
I leave you links to the Penistone Paramount:
Penistone Paramount in Wikipedia:
And comments in Trip Advisor. It seems I’m not the only one who likes it:
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