Friday, 26 November 2010

Book review: Back Row Brighton

Published by QueenSpark Books

Back Row Brighton – Cinema-going in Brighton & Hove is a glossy paperback that should feature in the library of anyone who’s interested in the history of cinema or in the past of this vibrant city. And if you’re interested in both, you will be amazed by the amount of information provided.

Chapter after chapter, we learn about the cinemas that have graced the streets of Brighton & Hove from 1909 to the present. Some have had a short life, while others have lasted longer. Some have changed name an innumerable amount of times. Some were considered classy, while others were places that parents forbad their children to go to. Going to the cinema, however, whether shiny or shabby, was always considered a treat: an almost magical experience that most of the uninspiring buildings that host our cinemas today are unable to offer.

The only cinema that is featured in the book and that is still operating today is the independent Duke of York’s Picturehouse, which celebrated its centenary this year and maintains the reputation of classic cinema-going. What has happened to the others? The answer to that can also be found in the pages of Back Row Brighton, whilst enjoying photographs of how they looked then and how they look now.

The book is brought to life by the recollections of the residents of Brighton & Hove and includes a useful list of 25 films – from the 1948 Brighton Rock to the 2008 Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging –that give us a glimpse of how the city has changed through the years. Your “to watch” list might suddenly get longer!

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