Festival, cinemas & memories


Last weekend I was in Utrecht for the Netherlands Film Festival. Wandering around my former home town, I took some pictures of the cinemas I used to go to:  Scala and Rembrandt.  It brought back my student’s years in Utrecht. Scala was just around the corner where I lived for two years, that is: in a mice-ridden, top floor mini-apartment at Loeff Berchmakerstraat. But that was only after my graduation; in my bachelor student’s years I lived in IJsselstein (way out of town), Oog in Al (at the edge of the city), and the then brand new quarter of Lunetten (out of town too). In my student years we would go to the midnight screenings of Scala; I remember having seen a whole Fellini retrospective there. Rembrandt we went less, but I am sure I have seen several films there too. Nextdoors there is still the strange unchurch-like St. Augustine church with its vast neoclassical front, which I recall being obliged to draw when in my first year in art history. The poor drawing results of my fellow students and myself proved that an interest in art didn’t necessarily turn you into an artist too.

By the way, in addition to Scala, we also went to City (corner Drift/ Wittevrouwensingel), Camera/ Studio on Oudegracht, Jos Stelling’s Springhavertheater (which showed Visconti’s Death in Venice for ever, it seemed) and of course Henk Camping’s ‘t Hoogt.  I also recall the matinees at the university premises Uithof, including a marathon day of long films (Novecento 1/2, Godfather 1/2, War and Peace,  etc.): of course on wooden benches. We had wooden bottoms and squared eyes afterwards, but that didn’t matter. There were also the sheer endless projections of Syberberg’s films at ‘t Hoogt (who dared to stay till the end?; by the way, not a very comfortable place either then). And I even remember a very oblique vision of a long film at the student’s association Veritas –  I was sitting almost under the screen, as the room was packed. I wasn’t member of any association, but we were all film buffs, so we went everywhere where films were projected. Video was slowly coming along, but which student could afford a vcr then?! Those were the days…

St. Augustinus

 Here is some information on Scala and Rembrandt. 

Cinema Scala was originally situated at Lange Viestraat 12, where it was opened in 1912. Initiator was Johan De Liefde, pharmacist, and owner of the local newspaper Utrechtsch Nieuwsblad and the renowned Hotel de l’Europe on Vreeburg in Utrecht. The elegant Scala was opened in one of the auditoria of the hotel. In 1935 it had to move to Potterstraat, an extension of Lange Viestraat, because of the broadening of the street and the opening of the department store Galeries Modernes. The architect of the new building was Nic. de Jong who had designed it in sober, functionalist style. Scala  remained active as cinema until 1989. On the first floor a smaller auditorium was situated, called Select. During a screening of Karate Kid Part III, enormous fissures were suddenly noticed in the walls, after which the cinema quickly closed. After renovation, it reopened in 1996 as Grand Café Scala, which projected films while dining, but this flopped. After that, Scala became a discotheque.

The original Rembrandt Bioscoop was opened in 1913; it was built within a large mansion.  Owners were H. Nieuwenhuijzen, J. Edelkoort, L. Lorjé and D. Hamburger. Cinema lecturer Louis Hartlooper did his performances here. In 1919 the cinema was enlarged and redecorated in art deco style. The cinema had become a luxurious theatre, with a massive front by B. van der Woord and the interior by M. Rietbergen. Rembrandt was Utrecht’s main cinema in the 1920s, while other cinemas such as Flora, Scala and New York offered competition. Rembrandt was wired for sound in 1929, just like most larger cinemas in the Netherlands. In 1933 it was modernised in functionalist style by architect H. van Vreeswijk. In the 1970s Rembrandt did not close but was split up, the sort of many cinemas: in 1974 the stage disappeared, the balcony was transformed in another auditorium, and the main auditorium was split in two smaller screening spaces. Rembrandt is still running. The cinema is now owned by the Pathé company. During the Dutch Film Festival it is one the venues where the films are screened.


Source: Bas Agterberg et.al., Sensationele voorstellingen en passend vermaak. Film en bioscoop in Utrecht (2009).

~ by Ivo Blom on October 4, 2009.

4 Responses to “Festival, cinemas & memories”

  1. I recently had a peek inside the former Scala, and you could just so easily feel it had been a cinema, many elements still remain today. Afterward I had a talk with Herman de Wit about his days as an usher at the Scala, when the Scala also had midnight screenings of Chinese films for the Chinese community, for the research I’m doing on this topic. Didn’t know you were an avid Scala-goer then!

  2. […] loh Pathe Rembrandt yang nista […]

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