There is a moment – brief but powerful – in which the rest of the world falls away and you’re left suspended in a haze of your own awe. It happens to me every time I visit the Museum of the Moving Image. Last time I was there, during the school trip, it was induced by the camera exhibit. Staring at the ancient machines is like looking at an old religious painting or like setting foot in an old cathedral. That’s what it feels like to me to be face to face with the equipment that films like The Wizard of Oz were shot with.
Not that my fascination with film needed more fanning but recently somebody in my life posited that cinema was a marvel of industry. The idea bounced around in my head and wouldn’t leave. It was ringing true all throughout the MOMI visit for me. Looking at the screenwriting section, the time-worn pages; walking through the special effects booth, pondering the endless hours and efforts it must have taken to come up with silly camera tricks – and all for what? Just to entertain.
What I love most about the MOMI is the sense that you are transported through time, through the history of an undying fad, essentially, and connected with a world of artists, engineers, mavericks and craftsmen who were dedicated to an entertainment form that exemplifies capitalism perfectly, for good or ill. Movies are one of America’s biggest exports, they are a product that began as a sideshow and compose now of one of the biggest industries the world has to offer. It’s such a special feeling to be reminded of that fact every time you look at a costume from a 50’s film, or the set models for The Verdict, or the founding technologies that later made television possible.
For me, the MOMI will always be a special place. It’s the place where I got to see so many incredible movies projected in glorious 35 and even 70mm. It reawakens my love for cinema every time – so much so that as soon as the trip was over, I walked across the street to the movie theatre and watched a movie that day.
It was Allied, with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. It was alright.