Page 8 - CinemaRecord Edition 3-2003 #41
P. 8

At the end of the war the Queen
                                                                               Elizabeth was refitted for her original
                                                                               purpose as a luxury liner. The
                                                                               theatre/cinema on board was for First
                                                                               Class passengers. Tourist Class had a
                                                                               more basic version, but it did have a
                                                                               small stage for concerts. Third Class
                                                                               passengers had to be content with a
                                                                               lounge-dining area as their cinema.
                                                                                  The First Class Cinema had a
                                                                               seating capacity of 338 persons, with
                                                                               the colour scheme a basic red, white
                                                                               and blue. The seats were upholstered in
                                                                               red, the walls were ivory white, and the
                                                                               carpet blue. On her post-war maiden
                                                                               voyage in October 1946, the fire safety
                                                                               sprinkler system was accidentally set
                                                                               off during a film show. Everyone was
                                                                               soaked and the cinema flooded.
                                                                                  Sadly, the Queen Elizabeth -
                         Cinema                                                similar to that of the Normandie. Fire
                                                                               renamed Seawise University - met a fate
                                                                               gutted the ship in Hong Kong harbour
                                                                               on 9 January 1972 while she was being
                           At Sea                                              refitted as a floating university.
                           At Sea
                                                                                  The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2)
                                                                               launched in 1967,was the last trans-
                                                                               Atlantic liner to be built in England.
                                     By Ross King                              This event was the last hurrah for the
                                                                               British shipping construction industry.
            Ships and the sea have formed the  lighting, air conditioning and a good-  In the late 19th century, 80 percent
          basis for countless screenplays, from  sized stage for live presentations. The  of world shipping was constructed in
          Battleship Potemkin to Titanic. Now  biograph box was behind the screen,  Britain. A major factor in the demise of
          reverse the situation and consider the  above the back stage dressing rooms  the industry was the advent of the
          experience of watching films in a  and utilised rear projection.     supersonic Concorde jet aircraft,
          cinema on the high seas.             The Cunard liner Queen Mary did  providing a high-speed connection
            The rise of the golden age of   not have a purpose-built theatre/cinema,  between America and Europe, along
          cinema and the luxury liner were more  but after observing the popularity and  with the failure of British shipyards to
          or less overlapping events, with a  success of the cinema on the     re-invest and modernise. For example,
          destiny to match. A sea voyage, even  Normandie, designers included one on  the equipment used to stamp the steel
          for business reasons, could mean days,  the later Queen Elizabeth. During a  plates for the QE2 was of 1899 vintage.
          possibly weeks of leisure time, and the  later refit a cinema/theatre was  Now after forty-one years of
          necessity for entertainment. With  incorporated into the Queen Mary.      service, and in its last year of operation,
          today’s cruise ships, it’s entertainment  The Normandie had a very short  the QE2 is to be moored in Dubai,
          all the way. Passenger ships and a  life. In June 1940 it was berthed  complete with its artworks and
          cinema were made for each other.  alongside the Queen Elizabeth in New  memorabilia, restored as an exclusive
            Surprisingly perhaps, it wasn’t until  York, when France signed an Armistice  resort.
          1935 and the maiden voyage of the  with Germany. The hastily refitted   The cinema/theatre aboard the QE2
          Normandie - the flagship of the French  Queen Elizabeth left New York in  has a balcony and stalls with a seating
          Line, and the first vessel to exceed  November as a troop carrier. One of her  capacity of 500. The ivory white ceiling
          1,000ft in length (313m.) - that a liner  many destinations included Sydney.  and wall panels are back-lit with
          was fitted out with a complete       After the Japanese attack on Pearl  indirect lighting. Red, green and blue
          cinema/theatre.                   Harbour, the United States seized the  indirect lighting highlights the stage
            Prior to the Normandie, and on  Normandie and began converting it for  apron as required. A stylised motif of
          smaller passenger ships that followed,  war service. On 9 February 1942 the  the Roman goddess Diana is selectively
          film shows and theatrical         Normandie caught fire at its berth at  used on the walls, in gold.
          entertainments were conducted in the  Pier 88, and rolled onto its port side  The comfortable seating is
          dining salons and lounges.        where it remained until eventually cut  upholstered in dusty pink and red
            The theatre aboard the Normandie  up - a sad sight for New Yorkers for  velour. There is also provision for
          was designed in the art-deco style,  months and a pathetic end to one of the  wheel-chairs. The screen is of generous
          complete with plush seating, indirect  world’s great liners.         proportions, approximately six metres

          8   2008 CINEMARECORD
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