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Branchage Film Festival

You are in: Jersey > Entertainment > Branchage Film Festival > An 'experience' of film

An 'experience' of film

New Media Journalist Ryan Morrison relives a childhood memory as he thinks of what to say about Man on Wire.

Philippe Petit crossing the Twin Towers in New York

Philippe Petit crossing the Twin Towers

The great, the good, the friends and the family - the interested, fascinated and the media - all groups that flocked to the Opera House to see a film of a Frenchman walk between two buildings on a tightrope.

Now there are a number of things in the paragraph above that could be expanded on, that could be extended, explained and receive comment - but there is one that stands out above all others.


The reason hundreds of people braved the cold of the Opera House theatre was to watch 'Man on Wire', a feature length documentary by James Marsh that tells the tale of Philippe Petit's 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre.

But I'm not here to review the film - there are plenty of people, websites, magazines and radio shows that have done that considerably better than I can - it's still the film element I want you to focus on.

Before the main feature we were treated to the seven, very funny trailers/adverts made to promote the film festival - from a 90+ year old woman trying to get a television signal to a man filming a cow.

Then the main feature - a brilliant, hilarious, poignant, touching and occasionally infuriating tale of a man that doesn't seem to see the point in death.

At the 'Man on Wire' screening

Q&A with Man on Wire producer after the screening

But I've already said I won't review the film - instead lets take a look at the venue - the Jersey Opera House itself.

The Jersey Opera House is no stranger to cinema, although as Christopher Lakeman pointing out in his opening speech, it is a theatre first and cinema - a very poor second.

Watching the film, as good as it was, at the Opera House reminded me of going to Saturday afternoon matinees at my local ODEON with my grandparents - it was a giant single screen cinema with more than 1000 seats.

It had a smoking section, turned into a bingo hall most of the week and was the most grotty uncomfortable place to watch a film you could imagine. I loved it.

The venue had a class, an atmosphere and a history. Watching a film there felt like an experience, felt like you were part of something - not like you were just 'going to see a film'.

And, as uncomfortable as it was trying to sit as high in the chair as I can to see over the woman in front - with the big hair - or as numb as my backside seemed to be, or as impossible as it was to walk at the end because my knees had given up - I loved every minute.

A great film in a beautiful venue with a rich and long history - it was an experience that seemed to sum up the point of the Branchage film festival (or at least as far as I see it).

A chance to see great films, to 'experience' cinema and to go away with something more than the feeling that you spent too much on popcorn, drunk to much cola and with the question burning in your head 'why, if I paid £7 to get in did I still have to sit through 20 minutes of adverts?'.

It was also something of a historic moment - this was one of the first films to be shown at the venue in 40+ years.

In fact, according to the Opera House website 'the last movie ever to be shown at the venue was Strictly for Pleasure starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.'

last updated: 25/09/2008 at 23:38
created: 25/09/2008

Have Your Say

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Bah! Ted, you've rumbled me. But I'm not jealous - really. I just felt that Ryan;s piece wasn't evocative enough - what about the intermissions, when a woman with ice creams on a tray would stand in front of the screen, and you'd have to queue, the tension building as you wondered if you'd get to the front of the queue before the main feature started, and you'd have to fumble your way back to your seat in the dark. A lot of what Ryan wrote about could be applied to watching a film today (woman in front with big hair, numb backside, knees that had seized up). Hardly evocative...

Ryan, This was a charming and evocative piece. I was `with you` in that old cinema sitting high in the seat to see the screen. When I was a lad we went and sat on wooden seats for 9d. and was so close the the 2nd largest screen in Britain that many of us kids suffered from motion sickness!As for Mark Kermode I reckon he should watch out for his job. And are you sure that `Barry` isn't the ex TV critic with the surname `Norman`? Hence his ire, he's jealous!

Ryan (Host)
Barry - I'm deeply hurt that you think of my memories of flimsy - actually it was pretty flimsy.

I'm glad to see you noticed the 'thinking about' and not actually saying anything element - I do actually say a few things about it but it's not a review.

This site is aimed at people in Jersey and a Jersey audience and while many locally would probably love the film - as I did - we're concentrating on writing features instead of reviewing films.

I did link to a Mark Kermode review of the film so if you really want to read what a professional (I'm a new media journalist) film critic thought - I'd read that instead.

This piece was more about the Opera House and my personal thoughts on seeing a film in a venue that hasn't played a film in 50 years.

I'm sorry you didn't like it.

The genius of this article is that the journalist tells us it's written while he "thinks of what to say about Man on a Wire", and then tells us he's not going to tell us anything about it. But instead gives us a vapid account of a flimsy childhood memory.

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