Smadar turns 80

posted by Michael Zoldessy on April 14, 2008 at 7:45 am

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — After many changes over the years, the Smadar Cinema is turning 80.

This is the stuff nostalgia is made of: tattered bits of celluloid, faded memories of a John Wayne western, and the bitter taste of that first cigarette smoked in movie theater darkness. The story of Jerusalem’s Smadar Cinema, now celebrating its 80th anniversary, has these elements in spades.

But this legendary movie theater in the German Colony neighborhood is more than filmlovers' memories. Long a cultural institution in the lives of Jerusalemites, Smadar is a phenomenon primarily thanks to its being the remnant of an era. Its incarnations correspond to the history of that elusive “Jerusalemness” that is secular and free of splendor and sanctity, expressions of which are fast disappearing. As such, it is hard to explain its remaining in place, when small movie theaters everywhere are all long gone.

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