The first movie

15 maio

 What was it the first movie you ever saw? Here is a common question among those who love the cinema.

I wonder if the reader remembers his, but, mine was not important at all. Depending on it, I would not have taken the road I took.

Yes, I practically remember nothing about “The Tiger woman”, just enormous figures moving in front of me, the whole thing so fast one could hardly follow the story; besides, the hot showroom of São Pedro Theater was crowded with noisy kids. It was 1952, and I was a kid myself, no older than six.

I kept the title of the movie in my mind, not because I liked it, but rather for the pride of being able to say, when the subject came up, that I knew what cinema was, that I had been to one.

Nowadays I understand why “The Tiger woman” did not appeal to me. Consulting due sources, I see now the film was actually a serial, and not just a movie. What I saw that hot afternoon at São Pedro Theater was just one episode of a longer story whose beginning I ignored.

The whole serial had – so tells me IMDB – 196 hours, divided into 12 parts, these shown in different shows at the movie theaters of the world. A Republic production, the serial was directed, in 1944, by Spencer Gordon Bennet, an old moviemaker of the silent times.

For my surprise, I read that “The tiger woman” had Rocky Lane in its cast, still called Allan Lane. At that time I would not know who he was, even if I had read the credits, but it would not take long for me to start collecting western comics, and Rocky Lane was one of the heroes of such magazines, along with Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Bill Eliot, Buffalo Bill or David Crocket.

At that time we lived on Amaro Coutinho, that narrow street, parallel to the main Beaurepaire Rouhen, very close to Praça da Pedra (Stone Square), and São Pedro was the closest theater around.

An older sister took me there, I still wonder how, since my family, then, was in such financial difficulties that two movie tickets were for sure heavy expenses: raising eight children, our father ran a small bar, called “Meu Cantinho” (My little corner), close to the Police headquarters.

Any way, this was my only time at SãoPedro Theater. Soon we would move to the remote Jaguaribe suburb, a distant neighborhood for those who came from downtown João Pessoa.

Later on I would find out, full of joy, that this poor suburb with unpaved streets, waterfountains in each corner and small houses with thatch roofs, possessed not less than three nice movies theaters.

But, moving back to “The tiger woman”, unlikely most friends of my age, I never enjoyed serials, and I think I can say I never followed one. “The Goddess Joba”, “Dick Tracy”, “Fu Manchu”, what do I know? – these were things I just heard of, and if, by any chance, I ever saw any of their episodes, I was not interested and forgot it.

As far as I remember, I have always been fond of entire movies, I mean, movies which told us stories with beginning, middle and ending, at the same time and space. As Poe says of the literary short story, I think a movie is a cohesive universe, where each small detail reflects the whole, and vice-versa. This entirety attracts us and we fall for it, till the final scene, without any chances of intervals. When, by the end of the projection, we are thrown back into reality, the magic has already occurred, and, with or without catarsis, our aesthetic experience is fully completed.

The irony is that, being so fond of movies like these, I mean, movies with completion, I just can´t remember the first one I saw. I figure out it was at one of the Jaguaribe movie theaters, but, my memory betrays me, and, when I look back in time, I see myself sitting in the hard chairs of those theaters, looking at the screens, one movie after the other, as if there had never been a first time.

But, any way, I am not going to run away from truth – my very first contact with the cinema was “The tiger woman”, which, entirely or in episodes, I would like to see again and – who knows? – meet that little boy from Amaro Coutinho street, taken by his sister´s generous hand.

How about you, dear reader, what was the very first movie you saw and how important was it in your personal life?


5 Respostas para “The first movie”

  1. Silvia Alexander maio 17, 2012 às 4:17 pm #

    I must say the most unfortunate thing occurred on my first trip to the cinema; I, very naive, a cinema virgin, 5 years of age, big eyes, scared as the light went out when I watched the big Metro Lion roar, well… I started screaming thinking the lion was real and it was going to attack me…..You can imagine the outcome, my mother, totally embarrassed by my inability to understand that what I was seeing was fake like a picture, took me home swearing never to take me to a cinema again. It took me a long time to convince her that I now new the difference and would not scream again and one Sunday afternoon we went to the cinema Municipal and though I was still scared, kept myself very quiet and watched ‘The Wizard of Oz’ that it was still screening then and voilà!!!! A cinemaniac was born

    • João Batista de Brito maio 17, 2012 às 8:50 pm #

      Nice story, Silvia! It deserves a longer text, something like a full “crônica”… How about it?
      Big hug from João.

      • Silvia Alexander maio 18, 2012 às 11:50 am #

        Thank you very much João, I am very happy to have received such comment from you and pleased that you liked my story; however I don’t have your flair for writing, but one day who knows I will be able to write at such length.
        Kind regards

  2. Justin Slosky maio 20, 2012 às 2:53 pm #

    The first movie I ever saw (or that made enough of an impact on me to have remembered seeing it) was “Return to Oz”, the unofficial sequel to “The Wizard of Oz”. It came out in 1985, so I would have been 4 years old or so when I first saw it. I don’t remember if I first watched it in the cinema, or on tv in our family’s living room.
    I’ll confess I never saw “The Wizard of Oz” until I was well into my 20’s, so that film had no impact on my experience watching “Return to Oz”.
    “Return to Oz” was billed as a children’s film (as you would expect from an “Oz” movie), which was a mistake. It is a horror film through and through. More importantly, though, it is the work of a supreme imagination. “Return” was the only film directed by Oscar winning editor and sound designer Walter Murch (“The English Patient”) and it’s a shame that he never made another one. I can still remember the film’s wildly colorful and menacing characters and scenarios to this day.
    I remember seeing it as a little kid and expecting a kid’s film, and instead being completely shocked and terrified. Then, however, I remember requesting to see it again and again. It was such a rich and dazzling experience.
    I wish there were more “dark” children’s films. I always liked Roald Dahl’s books and stories, which have a sinister edge to them. This is in contrast to American-style children’s programming, where all the menace and danger is usually whitewashed out. Another, somewhat dark children’s film I also grew up enjoying was the far more popular “The Never-Ending Story”, but I consider that an inferior version of “Return to Oz”. “Return to Oz” was the real deal. It may have been rejected by both audiences and critics, who were probably scratching their heads wondering what on earth they were seeing, but the film’s potent images made a deep impact on this future film fanatic.

    • João Batista de Brito maio 24, 2012 às 10:41 am #

      Hi, Justin, thanks for joining. Your comment makes me realize I didn´t pay enough attention to “Return to Oz”. Sorry. I´ll try to make up for it, whenever I have the chance. Bye and let´s keep in touch. João.

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