HE learned his craft in the early days of the “talkies” and brought the silver screen to life during the glory days of cinema, when Edinburgh boasted 34 picture houses.
A projectionist since 1928, Walter Chapman had seen Clark Gable classic Gone With The Wind 230 times and reckoned he’d shown 500 million feet of film to cinema-goers. By the time he was pictured in 1969, how we watched films was changing.
The ABC cinema on Lothian Road where he’d worked for 15 years was to convert to three screens. Soon other cinemas would also close to make way for the new breed of multiplexes.
This week it emerged that Edinburgh is to enter a new cinematic era, with the arrival of the first IMAX.
When the News reported the faded to black.
Protests like those of Pastor Jack Glass’s in 1988 at the screening of the Last Temptation of Christ didn’t dent cinema-goers’ enthusiasm – the minister admitted his stance outside the Cameo had failed to persuade anyone to turn away.
At one time it appeared cinema had been dealt a fatal blow by TV and video, especially after the Odeon on Clerk Street closed in 2003. Even the role of projectionist, less skilled than in Mr Chapman’s day, is disappearing as cinemas convert to digital.
But the Cameo, the Filmhouse and Morningside’s Dominion have managed not only to hold on but to thrive. And multiplexes have brought the big screen to new generations.
The city’s first IMAX opens at Cineworld in Fountainbridge on December 21