Friday, July 13, 2007

Perspective: Saying hasta la vista, baby, to one of Baghdad's last movie theaters

BAGHDAD — In the 1970s and 1980s, the Samiramis movie theater was a central Baghdad landmark, entertaining a generation of Iraqis with first-run films ranging from the Indiana Jones series to Batman.

On Aug. 1, its big screen will fade to black — for good. The movie theater, one of the last of its kind, plans to close after 38 years.

"The cinema business in Baghdad and Iraq has gone with the wind," Samiramis manager Saad Samir said, using a common Iraqi expression derived from the classic 1939 Clark Gable movie.

The 1,800-seat theater was unable to cope with Iraq's endemic violence, a curfew that forces it to close at 3 p.m. each day and the global trend toward people watching DVDs at home.

"We don't have any hope that things will be better one day," Samir added Wednesday afternoon as 12 people lounged inside the theater watching a pirated copy of Spider-Man 3. "We are so sad about this decision, but we have no choice."

Read the rest at USA Today