Going To The Movies -- August 19 2008
I know I enjoyed going to the cinema when I was young. It was always with Bapak or my older siblings. In later years, I'd go to the cinema with my siblings or a couple of good friends.
It was always a great outing for us, kids.
If it was with Bapak, we'd go by car. If Kak Ton or Kak Piah wanted to take us, we'd take the bus from PJ to Foch Avenue in KL.
It would either be a long car or bus trip to KL, or short one to the PJ cinemas.
When we were in Section five (PJ), we'd walk to Majestic or State cinemas in Old and New PJ town respectively. After we moved to Section 16 (PJ), we'd take the Sri Jaya number 43 or 36 bus to PJ.
The earliest movie that I remember Bapak taking me to was a thriller about a man who had powers to go through a wall. I must have been about five or six years old. I'm not sure of the title but it could be "The Fourth Man". It was at Majestic cinema at Jalan Othman, Old PJ.
I don't have much memory of it, except that I was dozing off all the time. I remember Bapak was reluctant to take me because it was an evening show and he was going there with a friend. But I would not take "no" for an answer so Bapak had to relent. Poor Bapak.
Mak warned Bapak to watch out for me because of my habit of falling asleep in the cinema.
I also remember Mak's youngest sister, Latifah whom we call Mak Busu, taking the lot of us to see a Malay movie, "Tanggang" at Coliseum.
I could later connect the rationale behind mothers often telling their children "jangan jadi macam Si-Tanggang". In other words, "jangan derhaka kepada ibu". More or less like THIS.
Among the most memorable films I watched as a kid were "The Sound Of Music" and "How The West Was Won" and a little later, "James Bond - From Russia With Love" and "Dr Zhivago".
And how can I ever forget Hindi classics "Sangam" and "Bobby" at the Coliseum, on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, then known as Batu Road?
As a teenager, you'd catch me at the State cinema with Kak Eda, going for the latest Mandarin sword-fighting movie.
We used to be fluent in Mandarin and until today, Mandarin period movies remain my all-time favourite.
In my teens, Kak Ton never missed any of Christopher Lee's "Dracula" films. So, she'd drag us all along with her to where Count Dracula was -- which was either the Odeon or the Federal.
Every time after a Dracula movie, we'd get into this unexplained "takut" mode.
Once at home, we'd all be doing things together. Sleep together on a mattress at night, go together to the kitchen if we felt like that late-night glass of Milo, and we would have someone wait outside the bathroom for any one of us.
Yes, I'd get nightmares all the time. And I'd still want to go for the next Dracula film.
Reflecting, I can laugh about how tame they really were compared to the horror movies of today.
Kids today think nothing of going to the Cineplex, Golden Screen Cinema or Tanjong Golden Village theatres to watch any one of the 10 movies showing. In fact, they can choose to see one movie after another.
In those days, only one movie would usually be screened for the 1pm, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm and midnight shows. And then they'd have a Sunday matinee.
I stand corrected, but those days, normal seats would each cost between 80 cents and maybe $1.15 and the reserve seats upstairs would each cost between $1.80 and $2.
And there would always be a massive congestion at the parking areas because, once you got in, you'd have to wait for the show to be over to get out. So if you were going in for a show, you'd have difficulty entering the parking area.
But I suppose, that was how things were so people accepted it as a norm.
I remember that we would always be reminded to go to the toilet at home before going to the movies because the toilets at the cinemas were horrendous.
Aah... the downside of our movie outings.
As I got older, and the city began changing and got more congested, I didn't relish the thought of going to the movies because of a variety of reasons such as traffic jam and/or parking problem.
A couple of cinemas were built near Bapak's place (Sentosa cinema) and later my own home (Ria cinema). They were not too bad, a little more modern than the "archaic" cinemas. I'd catch shows there whenever good ones were screened.
I remember going to Ria to catch the evening show of "Gandhi" with my old friend, Zainah Anwar.
But, most of the time, I'd rent video tapes.
My first introduction to sack theatres and an upgraded and sophisticated kind of movie-going was as a student in Boston, Massachusetts in 1980.
It was a totally new and enjoyable experience. And I was born-again movie-goer.
I think sack theatres came to KL and were popularised in the late 80s. Awesome, I thought. Revolutionized movie-going for movie buffs.
One Sunday last year, I took Adel and Shaira for lunch at the old Coliseum Restaurant on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Oh, just to relive some glorious past.
Indeed, it was nothing like the contemporary-styled restaurants that kids these days are so used to.
After lunch, on our way to the car park near the EPF building, we passed by the Coliseum cinema.
I gave my kids a running commentary of its history and reminisced my movie-going days.
I could see them trying to form pictures in their mind of their mother queuing up for tickets in a place so far removed from the kind of cinema with which they are so familiar.
They could not imagine the "hardship" I would have to go through just to watch a movie.
"Didn't they have the same shows being screened near where you lived?", Shaira asked.
Yes...indeed. How our lives and lifestyle so differ. And even in this era of cineplexes, Adel is thankful for DVDs.