Amsterdam’s Tuschinski Theatre

5 Aug

When I went to college in the Fargo-Moorhead area, I had the luck of being not too far from the Fargo Theatre.  It’s a beautiful Art Deco movie house in downtown Fargo.  I think that I saw “Shine” there twice.  I learned that seeing a beautiful movie in a beautiful theater is good for the soul.  Heck, sometimes seeing a dud in gorgeous surroundings is good for the soul.

When we head to Amsterdam next year, I’m hoping to catch a flick in the Tuschinski Theater.  It’s a unique combination of Art Deco, Gothic, Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Amsterdam School and Oriental influences.  Or you could call it Hodgepodge because that’s kind of what the pictures look like.  Super elaborate and pretty hodgepodge. 

This is what makes for a great movie experience, I promise. Vibrating chairs are never going to top this.

The theatre was built by and named for Abraham Icek Tuschinski.  He had come from Poland on his way to America.  When stalled in Rotterdam, the self-taught Jewish tailor would eventually open four movie houses there to present the new wonder of moving pictures.  He would move to Amsterdam in 1917 with two brothers-in-law to build the Tuschinski Theater.

The theater was built, according to Tuschinski, with “the best people, the best ideas and the best of materials”.  When it opened in 1921, the theater was outfitted with a very early form of air conditioning.  Giant blocks of ice were put into the ventiliation shafts to cool the paying customers.  Speaking of cool (like that segue?), in 1940 a Wurlitzer was installed in the theatre and a 16 piece orchestra would soon follow.  After WWII performers such as Maurice Chevalier, Judy Garland, Edith Piaf, Dionne Warwick, Dizzy Gillespie, and Fats Domino would play there.  On a sad note, Tuschinski and most of his family wouldn’t live to see this golden age for the theater.  He would die at Auschwitz in 1942.  In fact, during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam the theatre was renamed “Tivoli”, which didn’t sound as Jewish to fascist ears.

But the future is bright for the Tuschinski.  It underwent restoration in 1984 when the giant wool carpets were replaced.  As with the original carpets they were created in Morroco.  Only this time when they were moved to Amsterdam they were flown on one KLM plane, due to the size.  KLM would fit the bill for this honor, paying around $100,000.  Then from 1998-2002 a major restoration took place.  A mural was discovered and restored.  Seating was changed to allow 740 people to sit in the main theater, some in love seats and private boxes.

I’m personally hoping that we are able to get a love seat and share some wine during our movie.  The pictures of the interior are dynamite.  This link has a bunch of pictures of the exterior and interior of the theatre but you may wish to ignore the cheesecake at the bottom of the page, just sayin’.

The Mister likes to see a movie when on vacation.  I’ve only done it once.  We saw “A Night at the Museum” in Puerto Rico.  The main thing I remember about that experience was knowing enough Spanish to order a Coke but not enough to understand that I was now eligible for a free refill.  That’s when it’s handy to have a sense of humor and Spanglish.  “No comprende, still my friend-ay” was the best I could come up with and with my refill I got a genuine smile.  Stellar.


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