Stardust sparkled in Como this week. A little crowd was thrilled to enjoy the first digital movie at our beloved Cygnet Cinema. It happened because Graham Kahn, the Manager, used his own money to snap up the digital equipment when Perth’s Piccadilly Cinema closed down.
Built in 1938, with gorgeous Art Deco design, the Cygnet has survived many risky moments. During the 1960s and 70s much of old Perth was demolished, in the modernising rush of another mining boom. Local developers have often aspired to build commercial premises over the bones of the Cygnet’s location. More recently the Art Deco Society, inspired by Vyonne Geneve and others, succeeded in having the cinema listed on the State Heritage Register, bringing some formal protection.
Upstairs, in the projector room, there’s some new electronic wizardry. An NEC projector accepts digital files that arrive on a disk. The only sound is from a fan that cools the projector lamp. The 35 mm reels stand idle. There’s no more chatter from the wheels and drives that used to bring up the movie strips, frame by frame. Projectionists will never again experience that rush of panic as tens of metres of celluloid spool onto the floor in a mis-feed moment.
After the show there were lots of comments about the magical quality of digital sound and clear movie vision. It was a little surreal to enjoy this in the plush comfort of beautifully kept, classical cinema seats. Chris Simmons, helping with the installation, glowed with pride when he showed off the system. Chris has worked in thirty five cinemas and lives the dream of the silver screen.
There’s more work to be done of course. The owners are still faced with a large maintenance and renovation task. However, once again, a creative coalition of local people has made a difference around here. Through the energy and imagination of some special people and inspired groups our cinema will bring joy to many for years to come.
When I want to step away into dreamland for a little while, to enjoy a magical moment, you’ll find me at the Cygnet. Are you doing anything tonight?
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