Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Shwe Da Win Cinema - Magwe City, Magwe Division, Myanmar

A cinema intact, but out of commission, that's the Shwe Da Win. Its days of being mobbed by exuberant hordes, seeking reprieve from reality in colors more vivid than life itself, are long over. "Golden Royal," as its name translates to, is a name in vestige only. An internet shop occupies one portion of the former cinema, while the remainder is given over to the housing of wares. In the foreground, where movie-goers once parked their bicycles in neatly arranged rows, a vendor hawks womens clothing beneath a canopy.

No data on the Shwe Da Win Cinema was gathered during my time beneath its portico. It was dead, and by this point, so was I. Temporarily sapped of enthusiasm for a subject I'd traveled thousands of kilometers to photograph, I frittered away an hour typing messages of little import in the internet shop therein. The erstwhile theater's essence did not seep into my soul, nor fuel any temptation to describe it. The drive just wasn't there.

An educated guess would place the Shwe Da Win's inception within the period bound by colonial humiliation and military dictatorship: a productive, but short-lived era in Myanmar's long history. An era of high aspirations and flourishing creativity, when movie theaters were built by the dozen.

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