Saturday, 30 November 2013

Silver Screen Heroes

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?

You can add your comments below or email me and I’ll add them for you.


Nicci said...

The is really great news Peter. Hope this means long life for the Cygnet.

Nicci said...

This is great news. I hope this means the Cygnet is there for the long haul. Best Wishes Nicci Whitehouse

Don and Pam said...

I’d like to add my congratulations and thanks to a man with vision ( Graham Kahn ) for saving this cinema icon . We went to the Cygnet every Saturday night when we were courting 60 years ago and still go regularly and it is a big part of our golden memories.

It is so nice to be able to park outside and go to a real cinema .

Regards Don & Pam

Harry McNally said...

Hello Peter

Getting the digital projector in that way was good fortune and quick thinking by Graham. Well done to everybody for keeping the cinema operating.

Is the original projector being retained so film can still be projected ?

I found an article about the move to digital and prints no longer being produced but at issue is that some films have not (and are unlikely to be) transferred to digital.

I wonder, like the recent pressing of new vinyl records, whether a resurgence of film will occur for reasons of access to older film and colour and movement available from 25 frames per second (scratches and all).

We've purchased a few new vinyl records recently and it is only because I stashed away our old turntable that I was able to start playing vinyl again.

I hope the old projector can remain in place (even if renovation and upgrades occur around it) so the opportunity to show 35mm film is not lost.

All the best

Pat Gallaher said...

Great news. Thank you Graham for your generosity and foresight.
Now we can be confident, I hope, that the Cygnet will continue to delight us.