Cinema is the American cultural export, a clearinghouse genre jam-packed with iconic images, historical rewrites, and the changing face of the Western hero. For over 100 years movies have documented and dominated the zeitgeist, giving rise to a whole new culture of popcorn and hot dogs, glamour, romance, and the glittering stars of Hollywood’s Hall of Fame. Everyone wants to be someone, and “here’s lookin’ at you kid.”
Then the merry-go-round stops. The dream factory dies. It sits alone, becomes squalid. Its plaster rots and its grand facade chips, its halls of fantasy chink open to daylight, and depredation rolls in.
Loew’s King’s Theater, New York
My first novel opened with the image of a dead cinema. It was based on the cinema that used to be on the Main Street of the town I grew up in, Bolton, though the story was set in some Sci-Fi dystopic city. Here’s an excerpt:
“It’s rush hour, so there’s traffic. Stalled at one light, seeking permission to enter residential c-side, an old shut-down cinema catches my attention through the side window. It isn’t lit up, there’s no neon sign out front, but all the same I can’t help but look at the boards shrouding its wrinkled face, the strip lines of rusted metal where the names of the latest blockbusters would be strung up. Ha. I can tell that place never pulled in the big crowds. It makes me think, of how I used to love going to the movies. Watching those larger than life heroes, battling pirates out at sea, chasing bandits on the open prairies, swashbuckling through the halls of some regal mansion. But I don’t go anymore. Not since they shut down the old ones. After that they showed only movies they’d filmed in the city, and I’ve seen all that anyway. I don’t need to see it on a big screen to know it’s real.”
These are images from Yves Merchand and Romain Meffre. They also have some great photos of the ruin of Detroit.
United Artists Theater, Detroit
Proctor’s Theater, Newark
Keith’s Richmond Hill Theater, New York
Uptown Theater, Chicago
Loew’s Palace Theater, New York
RUINS / HAIKYO
You can see all MJG’s Ruins / Haikyo explorations here:[album id=4 template=compact]