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Cinema Teatro Odeon

ITALY | Thursday, 29 November 2018 | Views [112]

Just a five minute walk from the jewelry-lined streets of Ponte Vecchio lies another dazzling treasure of Firenze, Italia: Il Cinema Teatro Odeon. 

On Valentine’s Day of 2011 I found myself sitting in the balcony of the Odeon Theatre, surrounded by Florentines at a free public screening of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.

Rows of gold velvet seats surrounded the stage like tiny thrones. Beautiful, antique tapestries and sculptures perched above us, and a rich burgundy curtain hung proudly before the screen, anxious to reveal the cinematic masterpiece. I felt almost as though I was being watched, and my gaze was drawn up to a breathtaking stained glass eye, a glimmering green iris at the center of the dome. The old Italian opera house seemed to embody the lavish Italian decadence central to the film itself.

I remember my time at the Odeon not only for the beauty of the architecture and decor, but more so for the energy it was filled with that night, and the way the crowd affected my experience of the film.

I had already seen the film, as many had before: alone and on my laptop. Watching La Dolce Vita, a darkly humorous film set amongst the elite and lavish lifestyles of 1960s Rome, with a large audience, and an Italian crowd no less, was an incredibly eye opening experience. I found myself laughing at things that no Italians found funny, and missing jokes that Italian viewers all seemed to catch as they flew over the heads of Americans.

Seeing a film in a country or city that is new to you can be an enlightening experience. There is an exciting energy to a live, crowded audience that adds something extra to the experience of a film. A crowd's reaction may tell you something about that crowd and provide cultural insights. 

If you are given a chance to experience a film with a group of people, to allow a film to make you laugh and feel together, sharing a story that is collectively moving, seize it, especially if its golden glow beckons you from the streets of Piazza Strozzi in Firenze.

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