The summer cinemas that we have loved., by Evi Routoula
All of us that we are characterized as cinema-lovers, the romantics that we try to get away from the reality in any way, we love summer cinemas. The writers create stories, they can be either successful or not so successful, they either touch us or not , they even might influence some people to do something, or maybe not. In each case the stories are written and they exist. Something similar is what a film director also does, in a more complicated way though; the director needs first of all the writer, then the transformative writer, several people that will agree to sponsor the director’s dream, people that they will find places and items and costumes, several technicians of different specialties and several talented actors. The films are a much more complicated and costly form of “telling stories”. Everything begins with a story, which the creator believes it is worth telling. So, let’s enjoy it.
All us Greeks have memories from the summer cinemas of our country. As the famous singer Loukianos Kelidonis has sang “our best years leave fast through some summer cinemas with honeysuckles and jasmines . At the summer cinemas we fell in love, we played with the cats, we smelt the flower, we smoked our cigarettes, we drank beer with friends, we tasted the home-made lemonade and the sweets the owners had to offer. And we saw films, we got away from reality that was struggling us and we lived within stories: we visited the moon, the Galapagos islands, we met Phileas Fogg, Count Monte Cristo and Marie Antoinette, we fell in love watching the “Blue Lagoon”, we danced at the rhythm of “Saturday night’s fever”, we went with Ninotchka to Paris and felt Doris Day’s terror in Morocco.
We are one of the most ancient tribes of this world, maybe for this reason we want to believe that we are the best in everything. I am sure that many Greeks believe that summer cinema is a Greek invention. I am sorry but I will have to let them know that they are wrong, the first summer cinema in the world according to the book of World Guinness records, was in the town Broome of Australia. It used to be at the Chinese part of the town and it was operated by Chinese cinema-lovers. Other countries that had summer cinemas before Greece are Thailand and Iraq.
The first summer cinemas in Greece started operating in 1910, in the beginning they were for free, the audience was just paying for their drinks. The tickets started in 1937. In our country with the nice weather and the habit of fast-created enterprises, it was logical that a summer cinema would flourish: just a few chairs under the stars, a piece of cloth and a story. A few years ago the American CNN declared the summer cinema of Thesion in Athens as the most beautiful summer cinema in the world, let’s not forget that it has a view of Acropolis. View of Acropolis has also the historic cinema of Athens “Cine Paris”, which is one of the best ten summer cinemas worldwide according to the English newspaper Guardian.
According to the documentation of the 60’s at the area of Attika, there were at least 320 summer cinemas. Each year more and more summer cinemas close down. In the beginning it was the fault of the television, afterwards the fault of the videos and of the DVDs, then the fault of the internet and the latest reason for closing down is the economical crisis. My personal opinion is that what we really have to blame is the isolation, we all stay at home, it is more convenient that way and now we have the excuse not to go out. We stopped sharing the stories. But we forget that they stories and the fairy tales are told besides a fire, the stories are for sharing, for talking about them, for analyzing them .
Translation by Stella Chatzi