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Saturday, January 05, 2008

At the Movies

At the Movies

I went to the movies last night, and when I say movies I must emphasize the plural; it was an honest-to-goodness double feature. I can’t remember ever going to a double feature except perhaps at a drive-in theater about a million years ago. This particular theater is in my neighborhood of Ruzafa and I had walked by it a number of times but had yet to actually walk inside. I had kept an eye on the billboard outside to see if there were any films I might want to take in. I noticed that there were always two films showing and the price was usually 3€. This is considerably less than what they charge at the downtown cinemas in Valencia. When I was told that this price was for both movies I was skeptical to the point of forcing the person to inquire at the ticket booth when we walked by yesterday. Sure enough, it was 3€ for a double feature.

The first feature was a joint Spanish/Ecuador production called Qué Tan Lejos (How Much Further) which turned out to be a rather pleasant on-the-road movie that looked like a travel advertisement for the country. Two women who don’t know each other meet on a bus ride from Quito on their way to south to the town of Cuenca. One of the women is Spanish, from Barcelona, and the other is a young Ecuadorian. Without caricaturizing the women, even I could immediately pick up on the huge cultural differences between the two native Spanish speakers.

The Spanish woman—or Catalana seeing how she was from Barcelona—was almost comically ebullient and effusive, just like the woman sitting beside me.

I think that Spanish people see Latin America as their own precious gem to be savored and appreciated. Latin Americans see the Spanish as rich Europeans. At one point another woman on the bus calls the Spanish girl a “gringa” which got a laugh from everyone in the theater. What I found most interesting about the film was hearing the two very different languages, Spanish and the Spanish spoken in Ecuador, spoken side by side. After a year here in Spain I could really pick up not only on the accents but on the differences in the vocabulary.

In between the two features there was about a ten minute intermission. I knew that the time period required to watch two movies was a bit long for Spaniards to pass without some sort of meal. I was ordered to pack a small sandwich and a bottle of water because there isn’t much at this theater in the way of snacks—only a vending machine with candy and soft drinks. With the lights on during the break I noticed that just about everyone else had packed in supplies and I instantly became envious when I noticed the couple in front of us drinking beers. I joked that there was a group in front of us who had brought in an entire paella. In terms of humor I couldn’t think of anything more cumbersome and unwieldy to eat in a movie theater than paella.

The second feature was a pretty dumb American movie dubbed into Spanish, something I wouldn’t dream of sitting through in English. In Spanish I can file junk like this under “education.” I was able to follow every word of the movie even when I was on the verge of nodding off to sleep.

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