Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Futurist Cinema Liverpool

The advertisments were now for the Liverpool theatres.... A German film called the Nibelungs was at the Futurist. Malcolm Lowry Enter One In Sumptuous Armour

The film The Nibelungs which Lowry mentions is the Fritz Lang silent classic Die Nibelungen.

Enter One In Sumptuous Armour was published after Lowry's death in Psalms and Songs.In the short story, Lowry looks back at his school days at The Leys.

I will be returning to this story because it has many references to the Wirral and Liverpool. Lowry was a great admirer of German Expressionist film and must have seen the film The Nibelungs. What is intriguing is whether he went to see the film which was released in 1924 when he would have been 15. He certainly was a frequent visitor to cinemas during the is period. Lowry doesn't usually reference something in his work without it having meaning for him. The Futurist is still a Liverpool landmark.

The original cinema opened on 16th September 1912, the Lime Street Picture House was a very upmarket city centre cinema with a tiled Edwardian facade and 1,029 seats in the stalls and circle auditorium which was richly decorated with plasterwork in the French Renaissance style. Dummy boxes with a riotous pediment were either side of the screen opening and looked down into the orchestra pit. The lower walls were panelled in a dark oak wood. An unusual feature for such an early cinema was the provision of a lift for the circle patrons. There was a cafe-lounge located on the first floor. It was re-named City Picture House from 14th August 1916.

In 1920 the City Picture House was renamed the Futurist Cinema, a name the closed and derelict building still bears.

Read more here:

Chris Routledge on Futurist

Nerve Magazine article

Here is film director Alex Cox talking about the Futurist:

I was quite taken with the next video seeing that Lowry often used birds as symbols:

A bird nesting in the roof of the Futurist Cinema, Liverpool from Sean Hawkridge on Vimeo.

The cinema also featured in Terence Davies film's Distant Voices, Still Lives. Here's the trailer to the film:

It seemed fitting that while we are looking back at a Liverpool long gone that we should sample another Terence Davies movie Of Time And The City:

Of Time and the City is both a love song and a eulogy to Liverpool. It is also a response to memory, reflection and the experience of losing a sense of place as the skyline changes and time takes it toll.

Terence Davies returns to his native Liverpool and to his film making roots to capture a sense of the City today and its influences on him growing up in the late 40's and early 50's.

Liverpool’s phoenix-like rise is portrayed like it’s never been seen before; how a city can change itself and the people under its influence…
Read more here

Also check out Yorkie's performance in Futurist in 2004:


Earlier this year, artist Paul Rooney also made a short film for the Tate Liverpool exhibition Ideas Taking Space. The film is shot in the Futurist cinema. The film features stand-up comedic efforts by scouse group MUCK (Merseyside Uncut Comedy Kollective). I have not been able to find any clips of the movie. Here is a still from the film courtesy of Paul Rooney:

Here is the cinema last year during the City Of Culture festival:

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