What is the last projectionist of the Odeon Cinema doing, going to his workplace every day, even though this most beautiful Lisbon theatre closed 20 years ago?
Episode 13 – ODEON: after “The End”
|Created and produced by Marco António
|Translated and narrated by Lucy Pepper
|Official theme music: “Fado do Sonho“ – Pensão Flor
|Additional music:: Lee Rosevere| Orquestra Popular de Paio Pires |Ennio Morricone | Ike Turner | Vincent Lopez | Alex Puddu
|The Portuguese version of this episode can be found at “Histórias de Portugal” (narrated by Marco António)
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This is how the website of Lisbon City Council decribes the old Odeon Cinema:
“Found in Rua das Condes, a noble axis of the city, the Odeon Cinema was planned in 1923 and built by Guilherme A Soares, being inaugurated on the 21st of September 1927, with “The Happy Widow” by Stroheim. Part of the area of Avenida da Liberdade, this building in classic style was the object of modernisation in 1931, with the introduction of expressive and colourful metallic galleries along the facade, its windows made from coloured glass. The classic style of the building can still be recognised in the upper floor, in particular on the corner with Rua das Portas de Santo Antão. If the large window which occupies two floors especially deserves attention, above the semicircular balcony, sitting on metopas which frame the name Odeon, the interior is equally notable for its large coverage of dark wood, for the Art Deco frontispiece over the stage, for the sumptuous and sizeable boxes and the central light”
[Images from restosdecoleccao.blogspot.pt]
The Odeon Cinema closed its doors more than 20 years ago. Or rather, it closed almost all its doors (it did cease to be a theatre then). Every morning, there is one door that opens and stays open until the end of the afternoon. It is the door to what used to be a restaurant in the building, which also closed decades ago, opened every day by Artur Martins, the last projectionist of the Odeon, who began working there in 1952 (when he was 12). He is 77 now.
In this episode, Artur Martins tells us the story of his life and his connection for more than 60 years to the Odeon Cinema. A whole life filled with true stories and those in films, too. From the first job he had in the Odeon, still as a child, to the reason he still goes there every day, passing by the first time he projected a film in the golden age of cinema and the inevitable downfall of cinema theatres in the 80s and 90s, the most important films (one of them changed his life) that Artur projected, the happy memories, and the unpleasant fact that he had to give up doing what he loved.
The Odeon Cinema closed down in the early 90s, in a surprisingly decadent way for what, for most of its history, was such a prestigious theatre.
We had access to this set of photographs which show how the Odeon is on the inside now. The beauty of the place – despite being utterly decrepit – is still perfectly evident. And surprising.
In 2016 a “Guerilla Dinner Party” was held at the OdeonCinema.
It was the very last time Odeon’s doors were open to the public. As for the future, according to the official website of Odeon Properties (owner company of Odeon), the plan is to convert the old cinema into a restaurant and luxury apartments.
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This programme has the support of
in beautiful downtown Lisbon
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