Is it only a week?

On Monday last week I went to the Pictures. I realise it was April Fool’s Day, but there was no fooling about it. I warned you about it beforehand.

In Ireland we never went to the movies. We never went to the cinema.


But, sure you all know it was the same thing.

Did I ever tell you about George? No. Not George, my son-in-law. This is another one. George, lived next door to us when I was very small. At that time, he was the only person I knew who spoke with an American accent. Now for a man whose feet never touched a foreign shore, that was some feat (pun intended).  He worked for one of the film distributors, maybe all the films we saw in Ireland came from across the big pond. It was a long time ago, George died when I was eight. I am not quite sure what exactly he did at work. It might have been promoting the new movies, or delivering them round the cinemas. He might have been the man who rewound the films on the reels, but whatever he did, he talked like an American.

So back to last Monday. I was in Dublin for a special live viewing of See You at The Pictures, a feature length documentary about the history of Irish cinema going through the decades. It covered cinema entertainment history, through eight decades.  Right from the early days of the talkies through to the latest effects-laden superhero epic.

Up until the arrival of Telefís Éireann – now RTÉ, on 31 December 1961, entertainment and social interaction was very limited. The cinema became a great outlet:

Caught in the middle of a cultural war, Irish men and women, boys and girls, flocked carefree to the cinema in search of entertainment or enlightenment, escape or glee, in some cases warmth from the cold outside, and, quite often, privacy, to be alone with one’s sweetheart in the dark away from prying eyes or prodding canes…

The film explores the vast national treasure chest of hitherto undocumented or privately documented stories and adventures that have been stored inside heads or scribbled in yellowing notebooks and diaries across the country.

Stories ranged from the humorously anecdotal or intimately personal to nation-forming issues such as the struggle between State, Church, and Nationalists for the hearts and minds of the Irish people.

Director, Jeremiah Cullinane had this to say:

While talking to the many, many people – potential witnesses, characters, interviewees – we have already met during the research for this project, I have noticed a particular phenomenon, It is how people, when asked about their experience at or with the cinema, suddenly and completely transform when a particular memory comes back to them. It’s no exaggeration to say that the person’s eyes light up all of a sudden, the voice changes, the body becomes excited, they really become a different person. A memory, but a particularly strong one, that has been dormant, all of a sudden sparks to life, and a whole flood of associations is released. The emotional impact of this person’s transformation is unmistakeable – anyone who observes it cannot fail to be moved by it somehow. This phenomenon is true, not only of older people, as one might expect, but of practically every single person we have spoken to about the project, including future collaborators, technicians, post-production people providing quotes for services, contacts in local newspapers, etc.

Everyone seems to have a story to tell, and everyone seems to have this particular desire to tell it.

Thank you to Jeremiah and all at Planet Korda Pictures for allowing me to recall, relive and share my memories.

I have finally found a video of the documentary. It lasts one hour fifteen minutes, so put the kettle on, pour the tea and sit back and enjoy! Now remember: No blinking!!

17 thoughts on “Is it only a week?

  1. Grannymar Post author

    gigi – I don’t go to the cinema as often as I would like.

    Big John – Then I have achieved my objective in adding the link and talking about the project! 😀

  2. Rummuser

    I went to the pictures this Monday. There seems to be some sort of a bug on me as for the second time, I could not see the film I wanted to see on the day I wanted to. I had gone to the mall where the multiplex is located on Saturday to see The Call, but when I reached the mall, it was being shut down as part of a local merchant chamber organised shut down to protest a new tax. Today I was lucky and was able to see the same movie without any difficulty and thoroughly enjoyed myself. You can read all about it in my latest blog post.

    I will watch the 90minute show without blinking anon and report. In the meanwhile, if you do get to lay your hands on the clip where you are featured, all your readers would love to see you.

  3. Celia

    Ah, the pictures, it was the only entertainment out my folks could afford when I was a baby and they took me along. I was six before I realized I hadn’t been a witness to World War II, that it was all the war pictures and news reels I’d seen. Movies stayed in the center of our entertainment long after TV showed up and they still are.

    I’m looking forward to watching the video, thanks.

  4. Grannymar Post author

    Ramana – 😆 My 30 second clip would be missed even with out blinking. Clue: You might find me in Part 2… if you are quick! 😆

    Celia – Cinema/Movies seem to have played a major part in all our worlds.

  5. paulo1

    I remember going to the ‘flicks’ in Dunlaoghaire and seeing two full lenght films, a cartoon or two and a Pathe Newsreel. You’d be in there for almost four hours !!!! Great value for one and six.

  6. Barbara

    I’m looking forward to getting some time to sit and watch this 🙂 thanks for the link…. Will keep an eye out for you 🙂

  7. Grannymar Post author

    paulo1 – We really got good value back then. Don’t forget the trailers to tempt you back again the next week.

    Barbara – The whole thing is interesting and takes us right round the country.

  8. Dianne

    I listened to the Chulainn and have a question. Is the Chulainn the piece of music the man is playing or the name of the instrument? if the former, what is the name of the latter? Dianne

  9. Grannymar Post author

    Dianne – You confused me for a few moments. I think you meant to leave the comment on the post Sights sounds, smells & sayings. The Chulainn is the song title. I am no expert on musical instruments, but I think this is a double electronic keyboard.

  10. Jeremiah Cullinane

    Hey Marie, just to point out: you don’t need any You Tube link (it was taken down, in any case), because it’s available on the RTE Player until April 22nd:

    It’s open to any viewers in the good ol’ R. of I.

    Am preparing a DVD release, with lots of out-takes and people who didn’t make the cut for whatever reason (usually it was that they told great stories, but which just took too long to tell and which I couldn’t whittle down without destroying the essence and humour of the storytelling). Hopefully DVD will be out by Christmas.

    Phase 2 starting now on the website and Forum. I’m trying to direct some traffic over there. There might be another wee clip of you and your “Committments” story up there before too long.


  11. Grannymar Post author

    Jeremiah – Thanks for the update. I used the YouTube link because The RTE Player would not work for me. Alas, when I checked a moment ago, I got the same message:

    ‘Sorry, this content is currently not available in your region.’

    I may live on the same island, but it is a different country. 🙁 I have bookmarked the site and check it from time to time.

    Interesting point, of all the comments above, You are the only one in ROI! A couple are in the UK, one is in India and the others are scattered from Hawaii to the Northern States of the US.

  12. Grannymar Post author

    Paulo1 – Apologies, A senior moment. Of course I should have remembered that you, wisebebwoman and Marianna hail from Canada!


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