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What Critics Are Saying

Thom Ernst

There is nothing sinister about the ghosts and spirits that haunt old movie houses; they're there, but they're quiet and best of all, they never talk during the movie. In some cases, they aren't ghosts at all but merely the glowing remnants of hundreds and thousands of movies projected out onto the screen - a history of love, comedy, tragedy, music and chills played over and over again against a white cotton and polyester woven screen. Sometimes the spirits belong to those of us who aren't ghosts but living beings who continue to haunt the rep theaters on a regular basis. There is nothing ethereal about leaving something of yourself behind after the screen goes dark.

As cinemas grow bigger, louder and flashier, (not a bad thing, but a thing) the tranquility of the repertory movie house takes on greater significant. Nostalgia is part of it, but there's more. These are the community cathedrals, country churches for anyone who has experienced the kind of transformation, fleeting or lasting, that a good movie offers. It's too much to call it a religious experience, though it might feel that way to some. Better to hold it as cherished sanctuary, a place of refuge. No doubt that for the next generation of movie lovers similar experiences can be had at the multiplexes - similar, but not the same. It's the ghost thing again.

The Gorge Cinema in Elora
Aside from being one of the best rep theaters in Ontario, The Gorge Cinema is likely one of the smallest with only 136 seats. It began in 1974 and though it may not have the history of the Mayfair (Ottawa), it is built from the frame of a 1860s banquet hall. What The Gorge might lack in movie-fanfare is balanced out by its quaint Elora location. I've spent countless of evenings and afternoons at the Gorge familiarizing myself, often for the first time to some of the classics, Preston Sturges, the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields and Laurel and Hardy. Oddly enough, it was here that I first saw an evening (not even a midnight) screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". Along with The Princess Cinema in Waterloo, The Gorge Cinema in Elora played a great deal in my film education. Like most rep. theatres, its 35mm projector has now been replaced with a digital projector.

Thom Ernst