Reel Stories: Liverpool & The Silver Screen

Reel Stories: Liverpool & The Silver Screen

The Museum of Liverpool
Till September 2017

Reviewed by Dogstar Rose

There are 36 steps leading to the gallery floor of the Museum of Liverpool, steps well worth trotting up to embrace an historical education of the links between Liverpool and the Silver Screen. ‘Reel Stories’ is an ongoing exhibition that is well researched, planned, displayed and delivered.

From the outset you are drawn in to the ‘Silver Screen’ ambience. Acknowledgements of all who are involved are presented like the end of film credits and there is much Hollywood authenticity. You will quite possibly happily lose yourself in the long historical story as it unfolds from the days of Picture Palaces of Liverpool, the heyday of ‘reel’ social interaction when getting out and meeting new friends and old, socialising and enjoying life was a must. It was an escapism, to go to the ornate, opulent and grandiose picture palaces that had started out life as music halls and variety theatres.

Most of the stories tell of it being a time of escapism, fantasy and pleasure. An honest atmosphere which built upon the excitement and romance of the big screen. The ‘have-nots’ of the city were able to cut through the isolation sometimes felt toward the ‘haves’ and were able to access these new ‘moving film’ venues (although there were ‘flea pit’ sites too).

It was back in 1891 that moving film first filtered in to take over majorly from variety entertainment. Theatres morphed into cinemas. Within the walls of this exhibition you get to trip back down a fantastical memory lane of places such as The Paramount Theatre, The Mayfair, Gaumont Abbey, Pavilion Theatre, The Ritz, The Futurist, Reo, Trocadero, Plaza (Waterloo), Curzon, Forum and Gaumont Palace. Very sadly the only ones that now remain are the Picture House (Woolton) and the Plaza (Waterloo). It does appear to be a terrible historical loss of these bygone settings that could and would have remained relevant today.

Moving forward into modern times there is literature telling you of the Liverpool Film Office and how it can generate up to £20 million worth of income to the local economy. It seems Liverpool is the city to locate to when cameras want to start rolling for today’s blockbusters. The architecture is a dream for the movers and shakers of the film world what with Liverpool having more Grade 1 listed buildings than any other city in the UK (bar London).

You’ll also be treated to an array of imagery depicting all the stars that Liverpool has produced over the years, from playwrights to actors and actresses, all sons and daughters of Liverpool’s mass silver screen heritage.

One of the best chunks of this exhibition is that you get to watch (in a movie-esque surrounding) interviews from Liverpool born and bred people who, in the day, were getting extremely excited about ‘Cinema’ and they tell their stories with warmth and heart that effortlessly engages and intrigues. Finally, you’ll wander short corridors adorned with a plethora of movie posters that relate to all films that have been shot here in the City of Liverpool. A journey of discovery not to be missed, ‘Reel Stories’.

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