Tonight was an adventure that must be told. I saw a flier today for the movie theatre, and it was advertising “Il Discorso del Re” (“The King’s Speech”). I had wanted to see the film, and since I was acquainted with the story, it seemed like a good pick. So I checked the schedule. It was showing last night and tonight. At 9:15. In other words, if you don’t get to one of the two show times, you’re out of luck.
So, having missed last night, tonight it was!
Since the kids would be on their own, I wanted them to see where the theatre was so they could get me in the event of an emergency. No problem – it’s in La Vignola, just off the main piazza. After dinner, we went up that way. The large, wooden double doors were firmly shut and locked. No signs about movies. Niente.
I’d been told that there were two (count ‘em) theatres in town: the Sala Vignola and the Sala Jacopone. One was to the left of the Duomo and the other to the right. So, on the theory that we were at the wrong theatre, we set off to walk around the Duomo.
On our way, we met a couple, and I asked about the Sala Jacopone. No response. Then somehow the concept of “il film” came up, and the woman knew all about it: “Il Discorso del Re? Si! E a 9:15!” Therefore, they wouldn’t open the doors until 9:00. It was at that point 8:40. So much for selling tickets in advance, concessions, … so I walked back towards the house with the kids.
Having muttered dire imprecations to the children (and offered a prize for the first person asleep, to be determined by Eleanor), I set back off to hunt for the invisible cinema. I went back to the double doors. Nope. No luck. So I wandered back to find the other Sala, and then decided to follow the two couples I saw meandering. I’m sure they thought I was about to mug them.
Success! It’s amazing what aping others will do. They turned to the left behind the Duomo (not in front, as I had thought). Aha! A light in a building that I had previously thought to be the middle school. At this point it was 8:58. I went in, and found a box office! So to speak. I addressed the man behind the counter, told him what I wanted, and was met with a flat denial. The box office wouldn’t open for that film for another 3 minutes. Huh.
Apparently, they have not one, but TWO films shown at once in Todi (that rocking town) and they wanted to keep the box office open for latecomers to the film that started at 9. I think. It’s still not abundantly clear to me.
By this time, the five people there had somehow transformed into a crowd, and I found myself somewhere in the middle of the clutch of moviegoers. I eventually made like an Italian and pushed my way to the front, purchased my ticket, and was told...to leave the building, turn left, and go to the other theatre, by golly.
So repeating the imitation technique of going places, I followed a few other couples. Yes, out the building and into the BACK of the building whose large, wooden double doors were firmly locked. And hence upstairs. And upstairs. And upstairs. The stairwell had a ceiling height of around 6’2”, and was rather claustrophobic.
I eventually emerged, and was shown into – not what one would call a theatre – but a largish room. Say a tiny ballroom. Or a largish conference room. The seating was – gratifyingly – turquoise velour, in rows, and vaguely looked like theatre seating. But it was all on one level. The screen was near the ceiling (20’ ceiling, by the way), and the speakers were facing us.
All of a sudden, the lights in the rear of the room went off. Fifteen seconds later, the lights in the front went off, and the movie started. No previews. No cellphone reminders. No concession sales. Just…the movie (don’t let me get onto the sound system – it was appropriately enough pre-WWII, and made the experience very much of the era it was depicting).
And there was an intermission! They just cut the film at an arbitrary spot (I’m guessing at the end of the first reel), threw an “Intermezzo” screen in there, and turned the lights on! When the intermission was over, they just launched right back into the middle of a scene.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film, by the way, although I understood very limited amounts.
Leaving the film, to cap off my enjoyment of the experience, I caught sight of the man who had checked my ticket. He came diving down a narrow spiral staircase, having evidently just finished running the reels (and yes, the film was clearly on reels).
A short walk back home to find the house dark and quiet. Either my children act as well as Colin Firth, or there actually is some sleeping going on.
(And James won the contest, Eleanor tells me – she’s still awake).