by Felicia Yong
1978 was the year I got lost.
My first cinema experience at the age of 5 started with my mom hurrying my big sister and I into the car muttering about the distance to KL, complaints of the possibility of not being able to get parking which may lead us to not getting tickets, which then broke into excitement of this amazing movie with space ships and aliens. I did not quite understand what all the hoo hah was about and was just happy to go for a car ride out of PJ.
Hurrying towards the theatre, I could see a giant painted canvas mounted on the front of the building. That put things into perspective for me – so these are the space ships and aliens mom was going on about just now… oh but who is that lady with all those sweets and colourful Mirinda bottles? And that man holding a table over his head. What are those cone shaped newspapers sticking out from that table? My mom yanks at my hand, c’mon she says, we need to get in line. My eyes stay glued on the Mirinda bottles.
After a brief argument with the ticket seller through the hole in the glass window about my sister and me being small enough to share one seat, with two tickets in hand, she buys a Mirinda grape poured into an ice-filled ikat-tepi with three straws, and 3 newspaper cones from the man with the table. Holding on to my newspaper cone with strict instructions to only open it when the movie started, we waited in front of closed doors. It was hot waiting there with a lot of other people. The bubbles rising through the ice in the ikat-tepi was all I could concentrate on, when suddenly the doors opened. People shielding their eyes from the bright sunlight while talking excitedly about light sabers and robots flowed out making the entrance even more cramped. My mom pushed us through the crowd, got our tickets punched, and we entered the dark hall.
I had never seen so many fans in one place. And the rows and rows of seats! That huge red scalloped curtain! My excitement grew and grew. Sharing the sticky wooden seat with my sister, we found out that we should not lean back too far as it did fold back, with us in it.
Just as my mom helped me to open my newspaper cone which to my surprise contained kacang putih that had a coating of sugar, the theatre went dark. The curtains raised and the sound of the film projector started rolling; its light shooting through wafts of cigarette smoke hitting the silver screen. Music and narration boomed out from the speakers.
That’s when I became totally lost.
Unfortunately, today, the kacang putih man, ikat-tepi drinks in the cinema and film projectors have also become lost, but I am glad that I managed to experience the Malaysian Cinemas of yesteryears.
Cue curtain drop.
About the Author – In her 21 years in the advertising industry, Felicia is proof that a jack of all trades becomes a master in evolution. From a Junior Video Editor and Producer to a Creative Director for animation and motion graphics, the past 11 years has seen her levelling up to a Film/VFX/Animation Director for TV Commercials and Brand Films for Toyota, Honda, Proton, Petronas, Red Bull, TNB, Celcom and many others. With the belief that we keep learning till our last breath, Felicia’s evolution sees no end, and she can’t wait for what comes next.