Thursday, 15 April 2010

136th anniversary Arthur Melbourne-Cooper

Yes, it's Arthur M-C's birthday. The Odeon is basking in a cold April sunlight; no open doors and busy figures in fluoro jackets yet but it shouldn't be long. Maybe at some point in the future this date could become a day of special festivities - a programme of early Brit movies and Edwardian teas. Someone on the Facebook page is suggesting the cinema be named after Stanley Kubrick but , much as this blog admires S.K., the pitch here will be for it to be named the Alpha. After all A M-C was struggling in the teeth of all sorts of technical/historical/cultural obstacles S.K. never had to face, and yet managed to think up, cast, direct, make and get distributed over 336 films, 36 of them the effort consuming and intricate puppet animations.

And at the same time, and before anyone else, he saw what a cinema should and could be - and brought that into popular reality on this very site. He deserves credit for all kinds of firsts; the first ever animation, the first animated advertising film, the first ever long documentary (The GWR commission London to Killarney) and the first ever real film made in Ireland ( should have posted that on March 17th). But the best of them is his intuitive grasp of how people could get together comfortably and safely in large numbers to have a good time watching moving pictures - in comfort, if not a degree of luxury, with all sorts of accompanying treats. And who could deny they were going to need that blameless escapism in the years ahead of them. So thanks, Arthur Melbourne-Cooper and the Alpha...set to shine again.

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