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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The drive-in movie: where did you go?

Well of course we all know what happened to the dive-in movie theatre it was called the real estate boom. Vast tracts of land reserved as a theatre for cars and a truly immense screen, these days it's hard to believe anyone came up with such a concept.
Drive-ins were already dying out pretty quickly when I was a kid. We went a few times as a family summer outing to one of the few remaining drive-ins, which was a fair drive from our home. And they were long gone by the time I was a teenager so I never got to experience the fun of going with a group of friends or taking a date (did people really go on dates to the drive-in? It just seems so impossibly cliche).
I had always wanted to experience going to the drive-in as an adult, I felt cheated, and I had built up nostalgic images of what it would be like based on the few times I had gone as a child. As a movie buff you don't want to just experience the film you, ideally, want to experience it in the right environment. It's bad enough the old movie palaces are almost all gone as well, replaced with the soulless multiplexes of suburbia (but that's a whole other rant).
There are still old movie houses to be found and some are enjoying a revival as people realize just how much better the movie going experience is when you're not surrounded by drunk teenagers.
But the drive-in is far more elusive, you have to drive far and wide to hunt one down. It was on just such a long drive, a cross-country car trip a few years ago that I stumbled across one of the few remaining drive-ins in North America. In a field just outside of Winnipeg me and my then girlfriend saw the giant screen looming on the horizon like some ancient artifact. It was early evening and it would be a few hours before dusk but she knew there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to go to a drive-in movie, and she was in enthusiastic agreement.
A warm summer night at a double feature bill at a drive-in somewhere on a wide open plain in Manitoba,  if you've been lucky enough to experience that then you know you will never forget it. All the more so because you know the chance to do so is fast coming to a close.
As I later learned that that drive-in too had fallen to the onslaught of development. It was hard to believe really since it was out in the middle of no where. But then there are those people who think drive-ins are wasted space no matter where they are. Yes it's sad such people exist, they don't get the joy of being huddled in the front seat of your car eating stale popcorn and watered down pop, surrounded by other people huddled down in their cars, while in front of you plays a hollywood blockbuster in all its towering cinematic glory. Sure you could rent it for $3.99 and watch it at home, but that's hardly the point.
Anyway one of my goals this summer (I like to set the bar high) is to try and experience the-science-fiction-double-feature-picture-show at the drive-in one last time, although it may already be too late.  

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