Tracing the history of film and cinema in rural Wales

10 July 2018

The Coliseum in Aberystwyth opened as a cinema in 1932.
The Coliseum in Aberystwyth opened as a cinema in 1932.

Films from the past and the history of rural cinema will be the focus for an evening at Ceredigion Museum on Saturday 14 July 2018. Doors open at 7pm.

Radio and TV presenter Francine Stock will be choosing four of her favourite film to talk about, from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.

Joining her on the stage of the former Coliseum Cinema will be historian Jamie Terrill.

Jamie is studying the history of rural Welsh cinemas as part of a PhD at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University.

Jamie has been tracing the early spread of cinema technology, such as Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope and the Lumière brothers’ Cinematographe, into Wales and its rural regions in the mid-1890s.

He will discuss the history of cinemagoing in Aberystwyth for those early days, with a particular focus on the Coliseum itself.

Originally built as a theatre in 1904, the Coliseum ran as a cinema from 1932 until 1977, with 3,800 films show during this time. It reopened as Ceredigion Museum in 1982.

Jamie said: “I’m really looking forward to sharing the stage with Francine, who I’ve long listened to on BBC Radio 4’s The Film Programme. It will also be a great opportunity to discuss the social history of Aberystwyth and my research within a public setting.”

With clips from selected films, all of which were shown over the decades at the old Coliseum Cinema, Francine will be explaining her choices, with background information about the creation of these iconic films.

“I wanted to choose films that reflected an era or captured the zeitgeist of those times”, she said. “By looking through the long list of films that were originally shown at the Coliseum, Aberystwyth I came up with a list that evokes the mood of each decade.”

Francine has worked on a variety of TV programmes including Newsnight, The Money Programme, The Antiques Show and more recently The Film Programme on Radio Four. 

Besides being involved in film criticism she is also a writer. Her books include novels and a social history of cinema. 

She has been chairperson of the Tate members council and is an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College Oxford, having studied Modern Languages there.

Francine continued, “It was so exciting to find that the daily records kept by the proprietors of the Coliseum were so detailed. Not only were the films named and the film distributor mentioned but the number of people who attended were recorded as well as the takings for each showing. There were some surprises there; films I had never heard of which seemed to attracted a big audience at the time.”

“You might recognise some of the films and this is your chance to find out more about the making and background of each film. For the seventies I chose the award-winning ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. It was actually made at the end of the 60s but first shown in ’71 in Ceredigion and then brought back three more times over the decade.” 

Each of the four films will be screened at the Coliseum at a later date. Francine will be using clips from the films to illustrate points which she wishes to make during her talk.

“For the sixties I have chosen The Ipcress File which stars Michael Caine. It is a brilliantly downbeat alternative to the cheesy Bond films of the time. Based on a Len Deighton novel it won a BAFTA in 1965. The two remaining films are less known today but were very popular in their day; the fifties being represented by ‘Mogambo’ and the forties by ‘In Which We Serve’.”

For more details on these films you will have to attend the evening, when Francine will reveal why she believes they are so representative of those periods in our history.

Ceredigion Museum’s Curator Carrie Canham said, “We’re delighted to invite Francine Stock to look back on her favourite films whilst hearing more from Jamie Terrill looking about the history of the old Coliseum Cinema, this will be a truly engaging and interesting evening, especially for anyone for a passion of classic, iconic films.”

The evening is hosted by Ceredigion Museum, in association with Hay Festival.

For more information about Ceredigion Museum and what’s on, contact Ceredigion Museum 01970 633088 or visit the Museum’s web site.

Contacts

Arthur Dafis
Communications and Public Affairs
Aberystwyth University
01970 621763 | 07841979452
aid@aber.ac.uk