The Indian Movie Theaters photo-essay by Haubitz + Zoche portrays architectural cinemas built between the ‘30s to the ’70s and now on their way to become relicts of the past when a phone-boxes were cutting edge technology.
The photographs documented a part of cinema culture that has already largely vanished in Europe and the USA, and that is increasingly being supplanted by commercial interests and technical developments in India as well.
Stefanie Zoche said “The photos of these buildings give eloquent testimony to the rich cinematic culture of those times. We are particularly interested in the culturally influenced reinterpretation of modern building style apparent in the architectural style, which displays an unusual mixture of Modernism, local architectural elements, a strong use of colour and, in the case of some older cinema halls, of Art Deco”.
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The Indian Cinema project portrays facades that often seem like mock-ups affixed to the building, thus emphasizing the architecture’s distinctly theatrical, stage-like character. In this way, the function of setting, of central importance to the cinema film and to the process of immersion, are integrated into the architecture itself.
This interesting intensification of the building’s function is continued in the interior of the cinema. Here, too, one occasionally finds extravagant sculptural forms and ornaments that place the visitors in a stage-like atmosphere, thus priming them for the coming cinematic experience.
Many movie theatres in South India are left in their original state. Nonetheless, remodelling into multiplex cinemas is already underway, in particular in major cities, and will result in these buildings’ disappearance as witnesses to their times.
PHOTOS – copyright: Haubitz + Zoche/ courtesy: Nusser & Baumgart, Munich