Technicolour Saturdays: Movie Memories

“I felt like a knight in shining armour” – Grandad

Weegee's Lovers at the Palace Theatre. Source
Weegee’s Lovers at the Palace Theatre. Source

I’ve always loved going to the movies. Getting a large salted popcorn, choc top and some lollies, whilst sitting with your family or friends, escaping reality and immersing yourself in this new world. When told that for this weeks assignment we had to go to the movies I was thrilled! I immediately looked up what’s showing and the times. And then, some of Torsten Hägerstrand’s constraints came in to play, which is rather strange considering his field of work has nothing to do with cinema’s or media. In fact he was a ‘time geographer,’ who introduced three constraints regarding being somewhere or doing something. We can apply these constraints to attending the cinemas (or my lack of ability).

  1. Can I get there?
  2. Can I get there on time?
  3. Do I have the authority to be there?

By analysing these constraints, it allows us to examine the larger structures of society (Rose, 1993). So personally, this week I was unable to attend the cinema (as much as I wanted to watch Last Cab to Darwin), mainly due to the first and second constraint. I’ve been overloaded with uni work, went to Sydney to catch up with a friend, entertained my parents and worked. If I were to go to the movies, I would’ve had to have caught the 55A into town (which is never reliable) and also spend money, that I don’t really have at the moment.

Charlie Chapman, one of Grandad's favourite actors. Source
Charlie Chapman, one of Grandad’s favourite actors. Source

After paying a thripence to get into the movies, these are some of my Grandad’s stories.

Can I get there?

When Grandad was a child and living in Corrimal, he would walk down to the local cinemas with his siblings, barefoot with a Streets ice cream in hand. He remembers sitting at the front of the cinemas but before the movie began, they would watch news clips, updating them about WWII. His uncle. Our Uncle George was in Papua New Guinea at the time and whilst most would be worried, Grandad was just concerned about whether or not Uncle George would bring back the bird feather he asked for. And then, they would watch the ‘serials,’ like Flash Gordon which were ongoing series that would run for 15 minutes prior to the film. And back in those days, they’d have a pianist out the front, accompanying the film. These days we’re just inundated with advertisements and after watching the introduction to the Fash Gordon serials below, I kinda wish we had something like that.

Behind every great young man, is an even greater car… and Grandad had a ripper. A black, 1929 chevy. He bought it for next to nothing and did it up to impress the ladies. And it must’ve worked because in no time he was picking Grandma up and taking her to the cinemas.

Can I get there on time?

Of course having a car meant they could get there on time with little problems. However, getting Grandma home on time seemed to be a bigger problem. After one particular date, Grandad fell asleep in the car. He then raced Grandma home when he was then scolded by her mother for dropping her home late.

Do I have the authority to be there?

There were no specific rules or regulations that prevented any movie going experiences, however there were certain societal rules that must be followed at all times. Firstly, Grandad would sit towards the middle. The front was where all the kids would sit and the back was where children would roll Jaffas down the wooden floorboards under everyone’s chair. Secondly, if you went to the movies on a date, you could expect a smooch or two to occur. And just in case any of the Jaffa rolling or smooching got too disruptive, there would be a doorman (who acted as a bouncer) to remove you.

The Royal Theatre, Kurri Kurri. Source
The Royal Theatre, Kurri Kurri. Source

Something interesting.

Grandad told me that they would go to the cinemas every Saturday afternoon. Every Saturday? It’s sometimes so difficult to get my family together for dinner some nights let alone commit to travelling into town to go to the cinemas each Saturday. Also that when attending the cinemas, you’d have to dress up nice, though Grandad said ‘at least I wore shoes.’

The promises that 3D technology brings us. Source
The promises that 3D technology brings us. Source

The future of the cinemas?

When asking Grandad about the future of the cinemas, he remains optimistic. He feels it’s important for older people to keep getting out and about. Going to the movies is a way that Grandma and Grandad can go get some lunch, coffee, and enjoy some time relaxing at the cinemas. Grandad’s only concern is the technology, especially with 3D films. You see, he only has one eye and 3D glasses just don’t have the intended effect on him.

From here, we can use Hägerstrand’s time geogrphy constraints to examine society as a larger structure. This allows us to get a more detailed image of what life was like in the 1940’s in regional Australia, and tell the story of a young man, his car and his new girlfriend.

References

Rose, G 1993, ‘Feminism and geography: the limits of geographical knowledge’, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press

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