Yesterday evening Hubby I had the most magnificent cinema experience we could wish for. Not just because the film we saw was absolutely incredible, because, to be fair I’ve seen loads of fabulous movies. Movies that have made me laugh and cry. Movies that have made me reminisce. Movies that have given me hope. Movies that have made me think. and plenty of cinematic experiences that have left a profound and indelible mark on my soul. Bohemian Rhapsody, the film we watched last night was a triumph on all counts. The acting so incredible you forgot you weren’t watching documentary footage of the actual musicians. A story so moving and so richly coloured it brought me out in goosebumps. The music and editing were so perfect, it was like being at a gig. I sang out loudly (apologies to the rest of the audience 😉 ); danced in my seat; and blasted Night at the Opera on the car stereo all the way home. We sat there singing until the end of the credits. largely because we do that as there’s a little ‘extra’ at the end, but in this instance the credits were accompanied by Queen, so why leave. (Personally I never understand why cinema audiences get up as soon as the credits start rolling, there is often more to watch and hear but hey ho). And sitting there when everyone else had buggered off was also lovely because we got to chat some more to some of the Brynamman team, and they were just delightful.
But what made this a cinematic experience rather than just the watching of a A+++++ film, was the venue. How, after 15 years living in Wales , I had not discovered the Brynamman Public Hall Cinema, I do not know, but I can tell you this, I shall be opting for this venue whenever I can in the future. Forget your Vues and Odeons , this original 1930s art deco theatre/cinema has all the mod cons of dolby and digital sound and picture but it has all the nostalgia and romance of being at an ‘event’.
Brynamman Public Hall and cinema traces it’s origins to the 1920s where it was funded by the “check-off” system, whereby weekly contributions were deducted from the miners’ wages, initially to build the hall, and subsequently to run it.
Building work on the new Brynamman Cinema started in 1924 with seating for around 1,100 people. It was furnished throughout with tip up seats upholstered in old gold corduroy.
The stage was built 20ft by 60 ft and had 4 dressing rooms below. The lounge was situated below the library. It contained 12 armchairs and 3 settees where the miners could relax or play cards around the several oak game and card tables therein. There was also a billiard room above the library.
The opening ceremony was held on 15th May 1926. The cinema started with silent films until the 1930’s, when the “talkies” came along.
…and my pocket wasn’t robbed.
Tickets were £4. Yes £4. The staff were enthusiastic members of the community. There was a shop selling all the things you’d expect, drinks, crisps, popcorn, ice-creams, popcorn….. but at normal shop prices.
Brynamman Cinema is 29 miles away from our home in Llanwrtyd Wells. To get there its a drive across the Beacons. It’s a mountain road from Llangaddog , so quite windy, very spectacular (I’m sure, if it was daylight) and therefore takes about 50 minutes to drive there. Parking is free. We bought some of everything.. snacks, drinks, ice-cream; add-on the tickets and petrol and it was still less than 2 tickets to the Vue in Carmarthen (two standard tickets alone were £23.48).
When you walk in to Bryamman Cinema you are met by an enthusiastic , personable team of people. Many of the features of the building are original from when it was built-in 1926, “The hall houses an almost perfectly preserved art deco auditorium complete with many of the original fittings. The original wooden paybox has also been preserved and is still in full use today.”
…And after the ads and trailers they have an intermission, and a person comes into your theatre with a tray of ice-cream and snacks for you to select from before the main feature… which is always handy as generally I’ve already eaten my ice-cream by then!
What was particularly great was that the projectionist was obviously watching and not just playing the movie and , when the Queen concert scene came on he upped the volume, which got the audience going even more. OK, so it wasn’t quite like being at Live Aid, but , OMG, it stirred exactly the same emotions in me as it did when I watched it live on TV at the time.
As far as films go, Bohemian Rhapsody is one I’d definitely go and watch on the big screen again, preferable over in Brynamman. It’s also one I’ll most certainly own on DVD (is that old-fashioned these days? Probably). As for Brynamman Public Hall Cinema, when I want a great night out and a cinematic experience, I shall definitely be driving over the Beacons to visit it time and time again. Well worth it. Next time though I’ll make even more of a day of it and go earlier to enjoy the scenery and have a meal beforehand…
So, if you do, get the urge for a bit of nostalgia, coupled with a great night out, then I cannot recommend it highly enough.
PS: I nearly didn’t write this blog, Brynamman Cinema is such a perfect little gem I wanted to keep it to myself. Then I remembered, nobody reads my blog, so their treasure and my new secret escape are safe with me 😉
Twitter and FB: @brynammancinema