Sunday, May 21, 2006

We're millionaires, boys!

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I see a lot of movies, but rarely do I ever have a filmgoing experience that makes me actually believe in magic. But such an experience occurred last night in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, at Pothole Pictures' screening of the original King Kong.

My first encounter with the story of the tragic monarch of Skull Island came from a book in the Hackney Public Library about apes. They had a chapter regarding famous ape movies in the back, and I remember being moved close to tears by the story. I later saw Willis O'Brien's 18-inch tall puppet at the London Museum of Moving Image - placed atop a model of the Empire State Building, with most of the hair fallen off of his body, but didn't actually see the movie until I bought a used VHS tape in my early teens.

I saw the movie several times on my video (and recently, the pristine new Warner DVD) and last night, I rode to Shelburne Falls with Jessica, Andrew, and another friend Doug to see it on the big screen for the first time. As we walked into Shelburne Falls Memorial Hall - a beautiful, century-old former vaudeville house - a country/bluegrass band played in the corner as the young and old alike found their seats. The stout, bispectacled backup singer gazed lovingly at the guitarist as he belted out a handful of New England styled hee-haw melodies. Then the lights went down and the movie began.

What passed by were 104 minutes of magic. 104 minutes of adventure, joy, sadness, and belief in dinosaurs and giant gorillas. When the lights went on again, I knew not only why great films survive and continue to thrill, but why movies exist to begin with. I felt a kinship with those who saw the movie for the first time during the Great Depression. I understood why they would put off being able to eat in order to buy a movie ticket - to escape to another place, forget about their troubles, and to open their minds and hearts to be filled by mythmakers. To gain access to that place in the imagination where giant gorillas and prehistoric beasts are found. In their place, wouldn't you?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn. I wish I was there. That truly is movie magic.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^(post made by Fuzzy Duck; sorry, forgot to sign it)

6:51 PM  
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