On 28 December 1895 inside the Salon indien of Grand Café at the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris, Auguste and Louis Lumière displayed a new show entitled The cinématographe Lumière. That evening thirty-paying spectators were privileged to see a film for the very first time in history.
Less than a second and in total darkness had begun a sort of little magic, which projected with an incredible plausibility the exit of a group of workers from the Lumière factory in Lyon at the end of the day, carrying the public away in a parallel dimension where the psyche was lost between the general amazement, disbelief and fear.
The twentieth century looked at the world of cinema with more curiosity and marvel. The cinema represented a new world and a new achievement in direction of progress. In a very short time the movie theaters became for the twentieth century a sort of modern cathedrals of desire. From 1910 to nowadays, cinemas have begun to make proper use of the spaces to accommodate an increasing number of spectators. These cinemas were elegantly decorated with details, which showed the magic of those years. In most cases these spaces have come to us in an advanced state of decline. Yet the magic of early cinema is still strong and more frequently, through specific redevelopment plans, we are witnessing the rediscovery and appreciation of these ancient ‘cathedrals’. In fact, the projections of the great masterpieces of the past attract an increasing audience of enthusiasts. Witness of this trend is the Fondazione Cineteca of Bologna, worldwide recognized for its work of recovery and restoration of films. Every years Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival renews its success with a wide range of films, bringing back to the contemporary spectator an immense heritage of great classic movies.
Thanks the success of the Festival Gian Luca Farinelli, the director of the Cineteca film library, had announced last June the decision to give a second life to Cinema Modernissimo, in the historic center of Bologna. He has called this idea “an very optimistic operation that smacks of utopian realism”. An important step that in 2017 will bring back to the city an important building, an historian space and a unique stage for the restoration work of the Cineteca Foundation. Opened in 1914, the movie theatre stood inside Palazzo Ronzani, which was designed by Gualtiero Pontoni (1871-1941). It was one of the first reinforced concrete buildings in Modern Style built in the city. At the time it was one of the most visible and discussed building, a real business machine with an hotel inside, as well as some apartments, clubs and shops. The project of restyling of the coffee and the movie theater, whose the decorations by Roberto Franzoni are mostly lost today, will be entrusted to the great designer Giancarlo Basili.
Even Bologna will have its cinema d’antan in trend with what is happening across Europe. In 2013, thirty years after the closure, the famous Eden Theatre of la Ciotat, near Marseille, has been re-opened after five years of work. The Eden Theatre was opened in 1889 by Anoine Lumière as a cafe-concert, and designed to host musical and boxing matches until the day when Antoine’s sons projected one of their early works: The arrive of a train en races à la Ciotat. It is said that the crowd of spectators were ready to run away fearing the arrival of the train, running over them, concrete metaphor of the disruptive power of the beginning of cinema history. The 2014 returned to Vienna the famous Metro Kinokulturhaus Theatre, managed by the Filmarchive Austria, and quickly became one of the favorite destination for tourists and film enthusiasts. France, birthplace of cinema, couldn’t exempt from beginning a similar project in Paris. At the dawn of the Twentieth Century, the Ville Lumiere was the center of the art world, an unique stage welcoming across the city an incredible crossroads of artists and artistic experiences. So after twenty-five years of closing, the famous Louxor Cinema has regained its lost luster. The neo-Egyptian building represented an authentical jewel of the Art-Deco style. Henri Zipicy, Amedee Tiberti and Henri Silderberg have revived one of the most beautiful and unique city buildings, which is also recorded in the historical heritage of Paris for its facade. In the wake of the success of the Louxor, the city of Paris is preparing to re-open other fourteen cinemas such as the Balzac, the Arlequin, the Kosmos, the Escurial, Les Ursulines and the Trianon.