Saturday, July 15, 2017

The King's Cinema - Mawlamyine, Mon State, Myanmar PART 1

Please excuse the abrupt halt in publication here at the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project website. It's by no means intentional. I'm just itching to unload my photos and accompanying drivel onto anyone willing to look and listen, but finding the time to hammer out essays while at the peak of my working season isn't easy. So for the time being lets stick to the basics, like street views of movie theaters and cursory descriptions of what they're all about. 

That down there is the King's Cinema. It's the riverside fortress of Mawlamyiane. Anybody strolling down Strand Road and the trash strewn banks of the Salween River passes by this building. It's a hard one not to notice. Whoever drew up its design clearly intended it that way. Although the facade and main entrance face onto a narrower street towards other buildings, the architect ensured that the King's couldn't be missed thanks to a vertiginous, curved sign stuck onto the corner facing Strand Road. The effect worked like a charm.  And the sign itself.....what a piece of work! It's alien without being alienating. Brutal without a touch of brutality, save for a vague resemblance to the Brutalist school of architecture that it preceded. I found it hard not to look at this building, and not just because I'm a sucker for cinema halls.   

The length of the King's Cinema fronting onto Strand Road is of a common ferrocement stock. Its low-slung breadth contrasts gracefully with the weightiness of the facade thanks to the slate-tiled shield of a sign between them. 

Wide view of Strand Road length of the King's Cinema.

A group of women working for a nearby bank stroll past the King's Cinema

A mobile lottery ticket vendor pushes his cart past the hulking carcass of the King's Cinema.

A game of Chin Lone being played in front of the King's Cinema.

Even from afar, the King's Cinema makes its mark along Strand Road. 

Mawlamyiane, city of Orwellian legend, of great historical and economic clout, has much to see. The town, for instance, is crowned by the Kyaik Than Lan Pagoda, sitting on the crest of hill that overlooks the various neighborhoods below. Across the Salween River, which the town sits at the mouth of, is the island of Bilu, known throughout the region for its many craft villages.

Few people come to Mawlamyiane for the King's Cinema, especially since it went bust six or seven years ago. But unless you're blind, the King's is hard to miss. 

Don't be blind! See the King's!

An ornate house bookends the King's Cinema at its rear.