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intimate room in which to view films,
          decoration is minimal, and the screen is
          either blank or a great expanse for
          images of varying interest.
            How different was the earlier
          approach when the picture palace was
          planned to give its patrons a few hours
          of luxury, beauty and wonder, to take
          them out of their daily lives.
            So we have the final anticipatory
          climb up the vomitorium stairs from the
          foyer, feeling as much as hearing the
          throb of the most versatile musical
          instrument ever devised, with a
          tantalizing glimpse of a richly decorated
          ceiling and then the revelation of a
          sweeping proscenium clothed with
          elaborate drapery as the focal point of a
          sea of comfortable seats.
            Costly Viennese crystal chandeliers
          glittered, soft ever-changing colours
          washed coffered ceilings or a huge
          central dome from concealed globes,
          and windowed walls gave an illusion
          that a velvet night sky lay just beyond.
          Hand woven tapestries and murals
          filled plain spaces, and deep, custom
          woven carpets cushioned the feet of the
          wondering temporary kings, queens,
          princes and princesses as they were
          shown to their seats by glamorous lady
          servants and handsome, smartly clad
            Even in those inevitable moments
          when the film palled, there was joy to
          be found in gazing about the
          surrounding glory, dimly lit by the light
          from the screen.
            All of our great cinemas shared these
          characteristics, though Greater Union’s
          theatres were distinctly different,
          ranging from the French Empire decor  From top: : the initial decor and wall
          of the State, Sydney to the statued  finish of the Art Gallery;
          pleasure gardens of the ‘atmospherics’.  The staff poised for Opening Night;
          Much as I admire them, (and I can attest  The Register News Pictorial 3 May 1929.
          from personal observation that the  Images: JTC
          statuary was remarkably faithful to the
          original masterpieces) it was in their  counterpart, where in the frieze naked
          Hoyts rivals that I found my greatest  Hellenic athletes engaged in worshipful
          pleasure. All of these theatres were  procession. From the elaborately
          memorable, some more so than others.  tasteful central embroidery of this dome
            The first consideration was the sense  hung the most magnificent combined
          of space. The Regent, Brisbane seemed  chandelier and candelabra of all.
          to be wider than it was deep, which is  But it was in their ideal proportions
          not good for viewing a flat cinema  (close, I would think, to the golden
          screen, and though it was probably the  rectangle*) a characteristic shared by
          most richly decorated of all the Regents,  the Regents of Collins Street, Fitzroy
          it suffered from the impenetrable  and Adelaide, that was the basis for
          solidity of its plaster decoration and the  their success as cinemas.
          deep, and rather gloomy, bronze colour  The Melbourne theatre was the
          scheme. Its oval dome, fine in itself,  grandest of all, and I do not except the
          paled into insignificance when     State, Sydney from this assessment.
          compared with its Melbourne

          14  2006 CINEMARECORD
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