Throwback Cinema

The best and worst thing about the slow, yet steady decline of the cinema is having the entire theatre to yourself.

On some days, you’d walk into the post-apocalyptic emptiness and feel like a boss enjoying a private screening. On others, the reality of being alone in the dark, far from anyone who will hear you scream, conjures images of a discount Freddy Krueger moving murderously towards your seat.

As a frequent cinemagoer, I know the only thing scarier than being alone in such a cavernous purgatory is when the sole other person in the movie theatre is a random guy grinning at you in the dark.

As the man makes his way towards my assigned seat, I ask a stupid question.

“Oh, did the teller put us in the same row?”

If you’ve watched even one horror movie, you know that the man’s answer is “no” and that I’m getting ready to fight.

Instead, he breaks all solo-viewing protocol, plunges me straight into a personal nightmare and says: “I just thought it would be fun to watch together.”

To me, having to see one of my all-time favourite movies next to a random, clearly chatty stranger is utterly barbaric, but what to do?

The man is positively beaming. He notes my handbag on the seat next to me, and, when I don’t bother to move it, he takes the chair to its right. As I eye him in the dark, I decide he’s not some kind of maniac.

In fact, the shared idea of taking a whole chunk of a weekday afternoon off to watch ‘Back to The Future’ (1985) during Ster-Kinekor’s ‘Throwback Cinema’ campaign actually indicates we have at least one thing in common.

Two, when we confirm that we both absolutely love the film and are exceedingly happy that we finally get to see it on the big screen.

Like Freddy (Yes, his name is Freddy, like Krueger!), ‘Back to the Future’ is a film inextricably linked to my childhood. When I was a child, my family and I would play a worn VHS recording to within an inch of its celluloid life.

And, today, we regularly throw one-liners from the trilogy into casual conversation.

To see it on the big screen is a dream come true for us both, and, as we exchange a geeky amount of ‘Back to The Future’ lore, Freddy mentions that he’s waiting for a friend. The news is welcome, because my mercurial, Gemini social battery is running low, and I really do prefer a quiet viewing.

His friend arrives just as the movie starts and we lock in.

‘Back to the Future’ is even better on the big screen – funnier, deeply nostalgic and transportive. So I tune out my companions’ chatter and intermittent guffaws until I hear Freddy’s friend guess as to what happens next.

Guess! As! To! What! Happens! Next!

“Wait, have you never seen this before?” I yell, as if cued by record scratch.

John, that’s his name, says he hasn’t and Freddy and I are incredulous, spluttering, wondering where it all went wrong. As the movie plays on, I am now also watching John, or rather listening to him.

To witness someone watching ‘Back to the Future’ for the first time isn’t something I’ve aspired to, but it’s magical. John laughs in all the right places. He’s thrilled and amazed and cheering in every finely calibrated moment, and, like a million people before him, John is utterly hooked.

The unlikely but epic duo that is Doc and Marty McFly strikes again. Biff Tannen earns his “boos”, George McFly gets the girl, and I get to see someone experience Robert Zemeckis’ masterpiece for the first time with a tinge of jealousy, but mostly glee.

When the film is over, I ask John what he thinks. John knows about the trilogy, because he’s a sneakerhead and likes the self-lacing Nikes in ‘Back to the Future Part II’ (1989).

But, at just 17 (the same age as Marty McFly), he hasn’t watched the films.

“I loved it!” he says. “It takes me back to when movies were movies. I’m a fan! I’m definitely watching the other two.”

As we say goodbye, Freddy suggests the three of us meet up again for ‘Back to the Future Part II’, showing at Ster-Kinekor Grove Mall from 28 June.

“Maybe we can get a whole gang together,” I say, smiling.

“Yeah!” says Freddy (not Krueger), grinning at me in the dark.

–; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram;

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News