Cinemas return

By Lydia Rostant – LUMI Programmer

18 May 2021

LUMI programmer Lydia Rostant writes about the grand reveal...

Cinemas return

Cinema loves a grand reveal. Take that scene in Some Like It Hot (1959) when a mobster jumps out of a birthday cake and mows down Little Bonaparte and his capos. Or, the devastating redemptive fiction of Atonement’s (2007) romance. The classics, like Rosebud or THAT line from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Nothing satisfies an audience more, it would seem, than the build-up of dramatic irony before a shattering plot twist, or grand reveal. As viewers, we get all the glory and none of the suffering; the satisfaction of revenge, redemption or reconciliation meted out before us on the silver screen. The end of 1968 Planet of the Apes is basically canon in terms of its grand reveal – the camera slowly panning out to reveal the Statue of Liberty, crooked and defunct in the sand, the beleaguered George Taylor realising at the exact same time as we do the gruesome reality of Planet Earth’s fate. His ensuing words – ‘oh my god I’m back! I’m home!’.

On the 24th of May, the doors of Northern Ireland’s only independent theatre will (hopefully) be swinging open once again. In the words of George Taylor, we are home! For those of us with streaming-fatigue, the wait for cinemas to re-open may have felt not too dissimilar to poor George’s protracted mission. Longing for the lights to dim above us as if by a benevolent hand, the building hum of an expectant audience, the covert crinkling of much needed snacks. Even the perfunctory warning to turn off our mobile phones becoming a swan song before the main event. Then, of course, there’s the feeling of re-birth you get as you leave the dark of the theatre, of which the customary slapping down of the laptop screen and awkward sofa positions were a poor (and long-tolerated) substitute. The experience of being revived by the momentary immersion in another’s life is not one that goes hand in hand with a bumpy futon and noisy neighbour…

Let’s put it this way; the final scene in Planet of the Apes wouldn’t have worked if it had been revealed earlier on – if the premise of Earth’s demise had been common knowledge to the astronauts, if George had walked past Lady Liberty every day on his way to …. chat with some Apes? The beauty of it lies in its meticulous timing and the glut of emotions it provokes for the audience – shock, nostalgia, comfort. Is it a stretch to apply this same logic to the long-awaited re-opening of cinemas? My inherent dramatism would say not. The stories we tell, and the environment in which we do so are intrinsically linked to our happiness, our sense of community, our ideas about past and future. Despite the difficulties of the past year, there are a wealth of diverse, intriguing and affirming films to be seen, and stories to be heard. From Monday onwards, you can experience first-hand what QFT and LUMI have to offer.

Planet of the Apes may not end with joy, but it does end with an affirmation of sorts. The horror of the past year may have felt at times unconquerable, dismal and, let’s be honest, boring as hell, but the time for community and story-sharing is now. Get involved with LUMI if you’re a budding cinephile, check out the programme and book as soon as you can, and most importantly, welcome back, you’re home.