Sunday 3rd February 2013
Those who care to be tortured by my ravings (for whom my heart bleeds, no joke!) should be thankful to yours faithfully. I gave you a full month of a much needed break. But that was one month too much; I can’t keep my agonised past to myself any longer. So I’m back and ‘badder’ and may the gods of your ancestors be your guardians! I had to stop the hibernation that I’d gone in, as it reminded me of a past nightmare.
The very first night, I fell upon a TV channel programme that serialises all the James Bond films. All very well; I’m a devoted fan of the Bond films since the 1960s when I was able to get near a screen again, this time in exile. That second time is still imprinted in my mind because for the first time I sat in a film theatre. The ‘dotcoms’ of today, used to watching ‘movies’ (not ‘films’) on their laptops, may not exactly understand. But we used to sit in cinema halls that looked like lecture theatres, so that those in front were not in the way of those behind…..
But about the TV programme during my hibernation. I was all set to enjoy the first Bond film to be serialised on the programme when it happened. As the film started, I bolted out of the room and called out to the dotcom in my house to switch off the TV…. The dotcom in my house, it first should be known, is a nocturnal creature who lives on his laptop in his room. His waking, sleeping and eating habits are unknown but to himself. It’s a case of now you see him, now you don’t! Have you cottoned on? I’m talking about my son; he is the one who shut the TV down for me. I reopened it only when I was sure the opening part of the film was past.
So, why should Old Geezer, yours unfailingly, freak out at the mere sight of a film opening?
It goes back a long way. 1957, when I first encountered that opening of a film. Then we were in northern Rwanda, Canika, in the house of my late old man, a sub-chief. The house, Amajambere, that today has given that name to the Mudugudu (administrative cell) of the area, acted as a cinema hall. All of us, including the whole neighbourhood, were sitting, waiting for the mobile cinema (a van parked outside) to commence. A projector (today I know!) was waiting behind us, ready to ‘throw’ the film onto the white wall in our sitting room.
Then the engine of the van started and the projector ‘coughed’, sputtered and then hummed into life, throwing shadows onto the sitting room wall that turned into a white rectangle. We watched, as first King Rudahigwa and his queen arrived in their Impala, an American car of the time that seemed to be ready to fly, what with its wing-like projections at the back pointing to the sky! We watched as they were greeted by the populace and then, soon received King Beaudouin of Belgium and his queen, who arrived in an equally long car that was called Buick. That part ended (it was a documentary, as I now know) and it was time for the main silent feature film.
Giant letters started flowing down in quick succession and then a big circle formed in the white rectangle, with what seemed to be a dead lion inside the circle. To our horror, though, the lion that we’d taken to be dead started to slowly move its mane and then somebody shrieked: “Turashize!!!!” (We are done for)……
We took off in a stampede that saw young ones like us almost being trampled on but, luckily, none was harmed. We were saved by the fact that we sat in front near the ‘screen’, while older people sat behind us and ran for their lives before us. Talk about caring for children as if they are your own! It was each for him/herself!
So, what’d happened? You see, the lion on the screen had turned around and when it roared, everybody was sure it was coming for us! However, we did not reach far as some daring gentleman who checked the screen again called us back. The lion had disappeared! Today you may laugh but times are different. We’d never heard of a logo for a company. Those of you who know the logo will remember that the lion is the mascot for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayor company (MGM). That lion looks real!
Anyway, the main film was ‘Charlot’ (Charley Chaplin) and, after settling down to watch it, soon some of us laughed ourselves to sleep!
As to the James Bond films during my hibernation, I watched them all again, including the recent ‘Skyfall’ that I’d not yet seen. And all necessarily start with that lion mascot.
To think that I’ve lived through 23 Bond films and their 8 lead actors! Still, none of the actors has equalled Sean Connery, the first star actor. The swinging sixties were best for Bond…….James Bond.