Bo’ness exhibition revisits golden glories of the silver screen

Long before the days of multiplex cinemas - and before cinema-free viewing on home TVs was even dreamed of - Falkirk residents flocked to the movies in their thousands.

Saturday, 8th February 2020, 2:00 pm
Pictured at the launch of the exhibition are, from left, Alison Strauss, Arts Development Officer Film and Media and director of HippFest, Falkirk Community Trust; Maureen Campbell, chief executive of Falkirk Community Trust;, Calum MacGillivray, exhibitions officer at the National Library of Scotland; and Lesley O’Hare, culture and libraries manager at Falkirk Community Trust.

Now Falkirk Community Trust has partnered with the National Library of Scotland to bring their Going to the Pictures touring exhibition to Bo’ness Library.#

It will rekindle memories among older people of the numerous cinemas once to be found in even modest-sized towns, of Movietone news reels, and of the lengthy queues which formed when blockbusters of the day were released.

The Bo’ness exhibition is timed to celebrate the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival’s 10th year, and promises to deliver a treasure trove of golden memories of the silver screen.

Colourful panels, film slides, old cinema tickets and programmes, and a showreel of Scottish Film highlights tell the story of cinema in Scotland, including its oldest cinema = that’s the Hippodrome – designed by prominent Bo’ness architect Matthew Steele, and opened by “Kinematographer” Louis Dickson in 1911.

Prominent themes throughout the exhibition include cinema-going, cinemas through the ages, representations of Scotland in the movies, Scottish locations used for major productions, the golden era of cinema, fandom and Scotland’s rich history of documentary filmmaking.

Lesley O’Hare, Culture and Libraries Manager at Falkirk Community Trust, said: “Working with the National Library of Scotland to host this exhibition in Bo’ness has provided a wonderful opportunity for the Trust to showcase the significant role that the Hippodrome has played in the lives of generations of film lovers for more than 100 years.

“We hope the Going to the Pictures exhibition and its associated events programme will prove to be a great addition to this year’s HippFest programme.”

Calum MacGillivray, Exhibitions Officer at the National Library of Scotland, said: “Scotland is and always has been a nation of film lovers.

“The majority of us have been to the cinema at least once, and some will recall the glamour and excitement of it all from decades past.

“This display covers early portrayals of Scotland and its people – from tartan heroes and romantic landscapes to quirky locals and harsh city living, but we have since reclaimed our own stories for the screen with a burgeoning film and documentary making tradition.

“We hope it will evoke memories of the films, people and cinemas that have been significant in people’s lives.”

We’re told Scotland’s first ever film screening, at the Empire Palace in Edinburgh (now the Festival Theatre) in 1896 failed to excite, with audiences at the time preferring live variety acts.

A critic for The Scotsman said that “the exhibition somehow missed fire”.

The makers of Brigadoon and its star Gene Kelly couldn’t find the location they wanted in Scotland - another version has it that the weather was simply too bad during the allotted film schedule - and instead built their own version in Los Angeles.

The first Oscar for a Scottish film went to Seawards the Great Ships, a poetic study of shipbuilding on the Clyde which won best short film in 1961.

Going to the Pictures runs from now until March 27 at Bo’ness Library (closed Sundays) - admission free.