Showing 3 comments
This cinema premiered “Madeleine und der LegionÃ¤r”,according to
Zoo-Palast opend with the comedy “Die ZÃ¼rcher Verlobung” (Getting Engaged in ZÃ¼rich/The Affairs of Julie)
in April 1957. It is one of the most interesting cinemas of the fifties in Germany. Close to the station “Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten” it is right in the heart of West Berlin. Although there are shops in the front, everybody would identify it as a cinema.
It seated 1204, is built in stadium style with steps and a slightly oval shape. You enter a big lobby
with stairs on both sides going up to the cinema. The screen and stage is just behind the front.
Nowadays it has lost a lot of its glory. It is sadly refurbished and the front needs new paint.
When I visited it first in 1979, the seats were yellow. There was a oval ceiling with indirect lighting.
Walls were mostly made of wood. I went to the Bond movie “Moonraker” at a saturday night with
a lively and packed house.
Now they changed colours, installed pink seats, painted the ceiling white. Indirect lighting is gone,
the auditorium is sadly lighted, almost dark. The cinema and even the lobby and the big stairs are spoiled by poor looking floral design carpets. The worst thing is that they installed a smaller screen. The former one was about 20 meters long and 8 meters high and only slightly curved.
There were plans to destroy it, build shops or smaller cinemas into its shape, but it’s already destroyed
by the current owners. In former years it was saved by the Berlin film festival (“Berlinale”) which now
takes place in ordinary multiplexes.
The Dominion is a good example for fine preservation. Different from the mostly destroyed cinemas at Leicester Square or in the West End it looks like cinemas once were! Sadly it does not show movies anymore.
When it opened in 1930 it seated 2.835 patrons. When they used it for 70mm-presentation (“South Pacific”) and the upper circle was closed.
When I visited it first in the end of the 80ies, it was a very dark place. Everything in the auditorium was painted black. The walls and the roof, even the proscenium was black. As I read, this was made for a musical called Time which used laser projection. When I saw it, it was a parttime cinema, and I saw – “Sign of the Times”. The film was not to my liking and the seats neat and old. But even the lobby and a lot of interesting remains like the big circle impressed me much. I also saw that this very big cinema for around 2.000 people also had a second balcony which was closed by a wooden wall.
I visited the Dominion again in the Nineties, seeing a musical version of “Grand Hotel”. Now the Dominion was painted new and looked very bright.
Albert Knapp, Frankurt/Germany
Two years ago I went a second time to the Apollo Victoria to see a musical. The building is now renovated, especially the wonderful auditorium. When they played Starlight Express, they painted a lot of the walls black. But now you can see the cinema in its former glory.
Albert Knapp, Frankfurt/Main, Germany