Why Cutting Celluloid?

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Uncategorized

March 22, 1895. In a hall, somewhere in Paris, people are seated awaiting the evening’s main event.

The shuffling of feet is accompanied by the movement of chairs that are rearranged into position, while their cushions are re-adjusted for a more comfortable sitting. Paper bags full of hard candy annoyingly crackle in the hands of gluttonous attendants.

No sooner the lights fade one cannot but hear the faint trail of conversations as they gently die away.

A man suddenly appears from nowhere and announces, “And now the moment that you have been waiting for…ladies and gentlemen I present to you: The exit from the Lumière factories in Lyon.”

A crank is followed by a steady motorized sound and a thin white light appears from a window behind the audience. As soon as it touches the smooth surface of the large canvas hanging on the wall facing the audience a moving picture comes to life.

It is the year 2009 and people still watch movies at cinemas. CDs and DVDS mercilessly ended the reign of VHS, that once threatened the very existence of cinemas, but people till this day still enjoy spending an hour, or more, watching a movie with a group of strangers in the dark.

The first two movies that I watched in my life were Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and The Temple of Dome on VHS.

However, Returning to Oz was the first movie that I have watched at a cinema in Jordan back in 1985, either at Concord or Philadelphia…that I cannot remember. It was during a rare school outing to a place of magic and unbound imagination.

Years later, in 1989, my father took me and my sister to watch Batman—I was 11-years.
Now, I go to watch movies with my wife, Nesrin, and childhood friends. There I order two large buckets of popcorn to the dismay of the Mrs and the horror of my friends.

I never imagined that I would end up writing about the movies that I’ve watched but here I am.

Mother always chided me for staying up late or sneaking off after 11 pm to our living room, when everyone was sound asleep, to watch a movie instead of studying for a boring school exam.

I have spent many a childhood and adolescent nights reading subtitles because I was afraid to raise the volume in fear I would be caught by a yawning father or a frowning mother.

Six years have passed since I reviewed my first movie La Dolce Vita at The Star in my movie column Cinerama.

What I am going to write for On Campus is no different as it springs from the mind of a person, who has been eating, drinking and dreaming cinema his entire life.

However, there will be new sections in which I will write about memorable lines of dialogue or must see scenes.

Remember what is bad for you is good for others and the same applies to movies—it all comes down to what you think.

My job as a writer here is to simply write about what I love in a movie, whether it was in black and white or Technicolor, a comedy or a tragedy, and commercial or independent.

I am simply going to cut celluloid for you.

Mike V. Derderian

March 2009

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