Lady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita, 1973) at the Scarecrow Screening Lounge (February 14, 2015)

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One of my earliest and happiest Seattle film experiences was in the late summer of 1998, when I saw Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo at Scarecrow Video. It was upstairs, in a little room (I think it’s an office now, but it might be the comedy section) with a dozen folding chairs and a very small screen. The movie played, I believe, in 16mm, a tiny strip of Cinemascope ten feet away. There were four of us in the audience, two strangers and a friend who had never seen a Kurosawa film before, though his films had been seemingly everywhere that August (I had earlier caught Rashomon, Throne of Blood and The Hidden Fortress at the Varsity). It was, of course, a great movie and my friend loved it, sparking his own trip through one of the great 20th Century filmographies. The film showings at Scarecrow ceased sometime shortly after that, I don’t know when or why, but the experience has always stuck with me. We tend to get caught up with the incidentals of our film-going: comfy seats, giant screens, and ear-blasting sound in our multiplexes; giant TVs, plush couches and remote controls in our homes. But all of that is sideshow, what really matters is the movie, and going out to the movie, leaving our own space and sharing a darkened room with a bunch of strangers, all looking at the same pictures on a wall. I’ll see a movie anywhere, in any format, because what matters most is that movie, and there’s no better way to see a movie than in a theatre, any kind of theatre.

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