Update: Art-house movie theatre The Movies in the Haarlemmerdijk is currently under renovation and will open again in March 2022.
The air smelled of wood and upholstered chairs: my favorite movie theaters have that scent. The room was half full: just as I like it. On-screen, a woman in a red-feathered dress played a cabaret scene. She performed an acrobatic movement in front of an attentive audience as another actor pulled her up in the air with a rope. My body cozied up in the cushioned chair as I got more and more immersed in the scene. The woman in feathers fell down like the clap of thunder, and people screamed. For a moment, reality and fiction mingled as both audiences tensed up, the one in the room and the one on-screen. The woman howled in pain while cursing the man who let her fall. The opening scene, fast and riotous, set the tone of the film. I was all in. At the movies, I get out of myself, as if ‘myself’ were a piece of clothing I could undress for a while.
On the silver screen, things remained intense. Theater Davai is a french itinerary theatre company, traveling from village to village to earn their living by performing Chekov’s farse “The Bear”. Cast and crew are eccentric; they speak loud, party hard, live passionately. That’s how they love each other too, like an extended family from a time long gone who lives beyond socially imposed norms. There are rehearsals, reencounters, parties, escapes, love stories, arguments, and shows. Nothing is taken lightly. Everything is hilarious. ‘Les Ogres’ by Léa Fehner suits The Movies well because The Movies looks like an impossible place too. It is the oldest running movie theatre in the city and it could be itself, a movie set of the roaring ’20s. This cinema opened in 1912 under the name Bioscoop Tavenu (Cinema Tavenu). Tavenu is also the name of the cinema’s restaurant, a highly recommendable place for dinner in Amsterdam. Inside, the atmosphere is warm and cozy, in art-deco style. This art-house movie theatre is worth a visit even if just for a cup of tea.
‘Les Ogres’ are imaginary figures, monsters, giants, trolls, according to the dictionary. By the end of the film a baby-troll is born, the conflicts get appeased, and Theatre Davai moves on to the next stop, as frantically as they arrived. I got out of the room feeling reborn too. After the credits, I sat down in the lobby quietly, looking within, processing. Like an ante camera, the atmosphere of this space always helps prolong my inner silence. It feels like a calm before the storm. That’s the power of ambiance. When I go back to the giants and trolls of daily life, I was ready; I was renewed.