Over the weekend I took my 73 year-old father and 13 year-old son to Bladerunner 2049 in Mount Vernon, Washington’s historically preserved Lincoln Theater. Seeing a movie with my dad and my son in the theater where I discovered cinema meant a lot to me. An organist played the Wurlitzer before the show started, and I mentally revisited the various movies I’d seen there as a kid and young teenager. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Bambi, Dune, Tootsie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and a string of international films in high school.
My art geek friends and I were big fans of the “foreign movies” that the Lincoln screened in the early nineties, and would buy our tickets with no knowledge whatsoever of the films we were about to see. I consider that a huge part of my cultural education, like discovering the Peter Greenaway and David Lynch videos at the long-defunct Video Depot. I remember watching Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern and feeling the world open up wider from my seat in this agrarian river town.
I also remembered that this was the theater where, forty years ago, I first saw Star Wars. All I remember from that viewing was C3PO and R2D2 trundling through the desert of Tatooine and the Death Star exploding at the end. In a couple weeks I intend to take my kids to the new installment, where I’m sure the sight of a grizzled Luke Skywalker will put a lump in my throat.
Places like the Lincoln Theater are important, at least to me, and while the floor was not nearly as sticky as I remember it being, as a repository of happy memories it endures.