“First Cinema Experience” Belgrade 1934


Alexander Sinadinovic, a man with so much character embedded into his face, so willing to tell of even the slightest memory that comes to mind, and of course my happy Serbian grandfather. Much enthusiasm was exuberated when asking my ‘grandpa’ of his earliest cinema experience. Face glowing and smile almost touching both ears, his words went on for a while, with so much of his history to be past down to his grandchildren. Runow and Clarke (2003) identify “The Five Keys to Success” for interviewing techniques which enabled the family bonded discussion to run smoothly and stay on track. http://www.uman.com.au/Articles/interviewing.html

Born in Belgrade, Alexander remembers his first cinema experience on the 18th August 2013 in a face to face conversation. In 1934 as a ten-year old, hopping into his father’s car to head down to the local cinema, 200-300 meters from where his brother was born. As a young Serbian boy, Alexander was very lucky to be born into a wealthier family as much of the local people were poor and couldn’t afford cars, or to attend to the cinema “there wasn’t many cars on the road”. It was a winter’s afternoon, and the air was cold. His father was off work and could therefore spend his time with his son, as well as deciding on what movie to watch and paying for the ticket “I didn’t know much about the cost of money”.

Alexander recalls that there were different costs depending on where you sat in the cinema, who was lucky enough to sit in the middle back row “the best seats”. The cinema was an inside cinema with a small screen, yet the seats at the front “lowest cost” were too close (re-enacting looking up with a very strained neck). The cinema was full, the seat on your ticket was the seat you had to sit in and there was a man who would show you to your assigned seat.

The first movie he ever saw was “Charlie Chaplin”. IMDb (2013) identifies Charlie Chaplin to be “one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, who lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era.” For a full list of Charlie Chaplin Movies visit http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000122/. As an English comic actor, this recognizes that a lot of movies shown in Serbia at this time weren’t of Serbian heritage. Alexander elaborates that most films he saw were either European or American that had Serbian subtitles. However, Kronja (2008) elaborates that “Serbian films after 2000 show a tendency towards re‐traditionalization and the re‐establishment of patriarchal values in terms of male–female gender roles and women’s rights, which can be traced back to urban cinema” p73.

He remembers feeling incredibly comfortable; the cinema was full of Serbian people that could afford to attend. When asked if there were any coloured people in attendance, he doesn’t recall any coloured people within the cinema. “There were many poor people, a lot of gypsies” however, they weren’t in the cinema because they couldn’t afford it.

The cinema didn’t sell food or drink, but that didn’t dampen his experience “I liked everything”. Alexander remembers laughing throughout the whole movie (45min-1hour long) because he had “never seen anything like that” and had “never seen such long shoes”. Charlie Chaplin was screened in black and white, with no music, little talking and Serbian subtitles. A small ray of light streamed down from a small window in the back of the cinema, were a man was turning the camera reel “by hand”.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1939)



Alexander remembers a few movies he sighted after “Charlie Chaplin” including “Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy” where “one was fat and was skinny”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and also reminisces on “observing a plane flying and a man grabbing on with his feet off the ground”. His view on cinema today is that we can get the camera “to do everything we want, there is jumping and flying (Flash Gordon), it is very unreal”.

“Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel”

 My grandfather has so many more interesting and insightful stories to tell of his past; however this blog would go on forever. The experience of interviewing my grandfather was absolutley wonderful! Because of the joyous and overflowing memories he had, I found out a lot more than I would have initially asked. Also, I was fortunate that the interview ran on track, thanks to following the “The Five Keys to Success” by Runow and Clark (2003). I hope you enjoyed a brief moment in my grandfather’s history; I can’t wait to read your stories!

Reference List:

Clark, N & Runow, M 2003, ‘The Five Keys to Success’, Interviewing Techniques, accessed 17/08/2013, http://www.uman.com.au/Articles/interviewing.html

GunofNeverone 2011, Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel working on the street, accessed 18/08/2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HvqaWKVhqqA

IMBd 2013, Charles Chaplin (1889-1977), accessed 18/08/2013, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000122/

Kronja, I 2008, ‘Women’s Right in Serbian Cinema After 2000’, Film and Television Studies, vol. 6, no.1, pp67-82, accessed 18/08/2013, http://ey9ff7jb6l.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF

OjajeBiekUrwa 2008, Charlie Chaplin- Modern Times (lyrics), accessed 18/08/2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_UopgPw_BPU

Sinadinovic, A 2013, personal conversation, 18 August 2013

Tooze, G. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), JPEG, accessed 18/08/2013, http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/reviews/hunchback_of_notre_dame.htm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s