Russia, June 8, 1999
Your seat is assigned, but you can drink a beerTonight I went to the movies! I saw the new Lolita at the Moscow Theatre near the Moscow Zoo. The experience was quite familiar. It was a "normal" theatre and the movie was in English, with whispering in my native tongue and the only tall person deciding to sit in from of me. Even so, there was definitely a Russian touch to the scene.
First, the placards advertising the movie were in Russian, understandable, and two entrances to the theatre were boarded up, not so understandable. Once inside, we bought tickets and sat in the bar. Yes, there was a bar, where we could drink a beer, a real beer, a beer in a glass. We didn't have to rush to our seat, like you do in the West, the seats are assigned. We did have to ask that our seats be together, which makes me wonder how they assign seats; randomly, or by some non-liner fashion.
They have Dolby Surround Sound!
Once the movie started, all was fine, until I had a biological urge. Yeah, it was Lolita, but I wasn't thinking about that, sick puppy, I needed the men's room! I ran out of the theatre and over to the ticket window. I asked where the toilets were, just to be rebuffed by her saying "threeta." "Threeta?" I replied, quizzically. "Da," she answered, informing me that although the movie was on the first floor, the bathrooms were on the third floor. Up the stairs I ran, trying not to miss too much of the movie, swearing the whole way there and back.
Once the movie was over, I enjoyed eavesdropping on all the English conversations about the movie. It was interesting to hear the different accents react to the movie. Almost all the Russian accented English remarked how much the man loved the girl, and how heart-broken he was when she was gone. The European accents agreed, but felt he was a bit odd for going after such a young girl and marring the mom too. The Americans, including one of the people I went with, all were completely repulsed by the movie. No wonder they didn't show it in America, we are too Puritan to even contemplate it objectively!
Overall, the movie scene here is similar to small town America. We get all the big movies from America, but they play on three or four cinemas, for two weeks at the most, and are all at least $5. There are two video stores here, to the delight of my housemates, and all the expats trade new titles imported from the states. Luckily, we are still free of the dreaded Blockbuster Video invasion.