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The Last Projectionist (2011)

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When the UK's oldest working cinema opened in 1909, it took five years to train a projectionist - a century later, it takes less than an hour. The Last Projectionist charts the amazing ... See full summary »

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When the UK's oldest working cinema opened in 1909, it took five years to train a projectionist - a century later, it takes less than an hour. The Last Projectionist charts the amazing history of UK independent cinema, taking a tour of some of the most magical picture houses in the world, all centred around The Electric in Birmingham, the oldest working cinema in Britain. Written by Anonymous

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22 June 2012 (Ireland)  »

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£80,000 (estimated)
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A loving tribute to national independent cinemas
23 August 2012 | by (London, UK) – See all my reviews

It's almost impossible to give an objective opinion of a film when you are sitting in one of the seats featured on screen and the producer is working at the bar as you leave. However, The Last Projectionist is not an exclusive history of The Electric Cinema in Birmingham but rather a digest of UK independent cinema's best bits, with The Electric as the case in point.

I was particularly pleased to learn facts, like that of the decline of the cinemas in the 1960s due to the quota system and the subsequent ballooning of the British sex-film industry in its wake. The gripes of the rise of the multiplex are familiar, as are the lamenting the loss of 35mm film to digital stock and its 'projection'. On this latter point though, a forum of sage-like former projectionist-owners seem ready to concede that the quality of digital stock is very high. This was my only real technical quibble with this film (especially as it was being shown in the first converted-to-digital screen in Birmingham, Screen 2 of The Electric itself!) as the sound mix meant that following the threads of this busy pub conversation was very difficult.

By the end the point that the experience of a night at the cinema trumps any other method of watching a film had been made. The charms of a small independent screen had been advocated mostly by those who own and run the Electric (Tom Lawes, who even put together the music for the film) rather than the poky but nicely-restored building itself. An unusual, charming and surprisingly upbeat documentary. 7/10


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