I asked my family friend Ray about the memories of his first cinema experience. Even though he was only 3 years of age, he was still able to recall many details of the event. The year was 1982 “and the time of the drive-in cinema”. Ray attended the Kanahooka drive-in with his parents, during its last months of screening and operation, “before it all came to an untimely end,” he added.
One Sunday afternoon, Ray and his parents left home in their Ford Fairlane and made their way out to the lake in the outskirts of Kanahooka. Ray described the car park seeming infinite through his eyes and the filming screen, enormous. They parked near the candy and refreshments booth, where they ordered some goodies. An usher came to the car to greet and assist them in fixing an audio line from a post near the car, which plugged in to a slot under the aerial. “This is how audio was broadcasted from vehicle to vehicle”.
“I remember getting cozy in the middle seat that divided my parents and settling in to watch the first movie of the double feature. Dark Crystal (1982) & Star Trek (the original motion picture) (1979).”
Ray stated from that point onward Dark Crystal became his favourite film as a child, only later to be later contested by Labyrinth and The Never Ending Story. His recollection of the film was hazy however he managed to stay for the entirety of Dark Crystal, despite being 3 years old. “I do remember being terrified of the Skeksis armoured soldiers, finding them to be the first representation of evil that I had seen on the big screen. Simply put, I was in awe of that film and ultimately it was very influential for me to this day.”
This followed by the screening of the original Star Trek. Ray stated that he was able to tell this film, was not made for children, as he struggled to stay awake for the first 20 minutes. His Mum later reminded him that he had asked her “Why is everyone running around in their pajamas?” obviously not really understanding the Trek at such a young age. “I later became an avid fan of the Next Generation a good decade or more later.”
“Though that’s the short of it. My love of cinema all started with that first experience at the local drive-in that I can’t help but wish, with nostalgia it still stood today.”
Hearing Ray’s story was really interesting to compare to my own. Our stories differ because I honestly cannot remember the early years of my life let alone my first time at the movies. And so, my first cinema experience (that I can recall) was just at a local Greater Union, with some family friends and their parents. I cannot remember what film it was, but I do remember being uncomfortable in the chairs. As I got older I visited the cinemas less and less, I just didn’t enjoy watching a movie surrounded by strangers whom would chatter or throw lollies, the expensive food and drink, and missing parts of the movie if I needed to go to the bathroom. I would like to visit a drive-in though; I like the idea of being confined in your own space. Also, they should provide an usher at every cinema still, when hearing Ray’s story about the usher greeting and assisting them, it really made it seem like an authentic cinema experience. Today I just watch movies in the comfort of my own home. I can pause and rewind whenever I want, there’s no advertisements, and I can eat whatever I want without paying a ridiculous price.