Keswick Film Festival

Alhambra Centenary

Alhambra Centenary

Alhambra Centenary

On Thursday 22nd January 1914, the Keswick Alhambra Cinema opened its doors for the first time.

An 'excellent audience' arrived for a screening of Quo Vadis; however all did not go according to plan. Due to 'some slight defect in the apparatus' the screening was abandoned and with Keswick still served by the railway, the necessary part was secured, post-haste, later that day.

On the afternoon of Friday 24th, the picture was shown with "a fair amount of success. The last three parts - which are superb from a spectacular point of view - being shown with capital clearness" according to the West Cumberland Times that weekend.

No doubt the proprietor, Mr H T Pape was suitably relieved but cannot have imagined that after this inauspicious beginning, the Alhambra Cinema would survive for the next century. During that time it has continued to entertain local people and provide a warm, dry refuge for visitors when the rains came.

It has adapted to keep pace with technological change – silent to sound, black and white to colour, to cinemascope and latterly to digital.

It has seen off the bingo revolution, the rise of multiplexes, Videos, DVDs and Film on Demand and still brings the best of commercial and independent cinema to the town and its visitors.

To celebrate this marvellous centenary, the Keswick Film Club and the Alhambra are screening the best films of each decade during the Festival and following week. But how to choose one film to represent an entire decade? Chaplin or Keaton? Citizen Kane or Casablanca?

We will never all agree but over the course of the Festival and the following week, you will have the opportunity to see some iconic films on the big screen - as they were meant to be seen!

Films showing after the Festival are: Vertigo ( Monday 17.00); Lawrence of Arabia (Monday 19.30); The Godfather parts 1 & 2 (Tuesday 16.30 and 20.00); Cinema Paradiso (Wednesday 17.00); Jurassic Park (Wednesday 20.15); Shrek (Thursday 17.00) and to finish, the film that launched the new era in the Alhambra’s ownership, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Thursday 20.00) All at the Alhambra, -naturally!

Over the course of the Festival look out for screenings of the documentary, produced by the Film Club and the Alhambra, which tells the tale of 100 years of cinema in Keswick.


Friday 28th February 12:15 PM - Alhambra
Quo Vadis
Mervyn Leroy/Anthony Mann (1951) USA 166 mins PG

It may be the remake but the original version of Quo Vadis was the first film screened at the Alhambra. An opportunity then to see one of the true milestones of the cinema.

Friday 28th February 4:00 PM - Alhambra
The Gold Rush
Charles Chaplin (1925) USA 95 mins U

At the time he was arguably the world's best known and loved actor. This is cinematic gold from beginning to end. And, seeing it on the big screen is a rare opportunity not to be missed.

Saturday 1st March 10:30 AM - Alhambra
Gone With The Wind
Victor Fleming/George Cukor (1939) USA 238 mins PG

Dominated the 1939 Oscars, winning 8, and has become a thing of legend. 1939 is now seen as the year Hollywood peaked. Just research the other films that were made that year and you can see why; and this is the best. Your chance to relive the spectacle as it was meant to be seen.

There will be an interval.

Sunday 2nd March 11:00 AM - Alhambra
Michael Curtiz (1942) USA 102 mins U

Chosen ahead of Citizen Kane to represent the '40s. Why? Many would argue quite simply because this is the better film. If you think you have seen it all by watching it on television do yourself a favour and come to see the true magical spectacle that is Casablanca.

And continuing at The Alhambra until Thursday 6th March.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
John Madden (2012) UK 124 mins 15

From the 2010s

British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.

Cinema Paradiso
Giuseppe Tornatore (1988) Italy/France 155 mins 15

From the 1980s

A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village's theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater's projectionist.

The Clouded Yellow
Ralph Thomas (1950) UK 95 mins PG

After leaving the British Secret Service, David Somers (played by Trevor Howard) finds work cataloging butterflies at the country house of Nicholas and Jess Fenton. After the murder of a local gamekeeper, suspicion falls on their niece, Sophie Malraux (Jean Simmons). Somers helps Sophie to escape arrest and they go on the run together.

Much of it was filmed in the Lakes and the rushes were shown to Jean Simmons at the Alhambra.

The Godfather
Francis Ford Coppola (1972) USA 175 mins 15

From the 1970s

The story spans the years from 1945 to 1955 and chronicles the fictional Italian-American Corleone crime family. When organized crime family patriarch Vito Corleone barely survives an attempt on his life, his youngest son, Michael, steps in to take care of the would-be killers, launching a campaign of bloody revenge.

Followed by Part 2 at 8pm

The Godfather: Part II
Francis Ford Coppola (1974) USA 200 mins 15

From the 1970s

The continuing saga of the Corleone crime family tells the story of a young Vito Corleone growing up in Sicily and in 1910s New York; and follows Michael Corleone in the 1950s as he attempts to expand the family business into Las Vegas, Hollywood and Cuba

Jurassic Park
Steven Speilberg (1993) USA 127 mins PG

From the 1990s

A wealthy entrepreneur secretly creates a theme park featuring living dinosaurs drawn from prehistoric DNA. Before opening day, he invites a team of experts and his two eager grandchildren to experience the park and help calm anxious investors. However, the park is anything but amusing as the security systems go off-line and the dinosaurs escape.

Lawrence of Arabia
David Lean (1962) UK 216 mins PG

From the 1960s

Lawrence of Arabia is the classic film from David Lean starring Peter O’Toole and based on the autobiography from Thomas Edward Lawrence who during the first World War was on assignment by the British Empire in Arabia. The film would become a cult classic and is known today as a masterpiece.

Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson (2001) USA 90 mins U

From the 2000s

It ain't easy bein' green -- especially if you're a likable (albeit smelly) ogre named Shrek. On a mission to retrieve a gorgeous princess from the clutches of a fire-breathing dragon, Shrek teams up with an unlikely compatriot -- a wisecracking donkey.

Swallows and Amazons
Claude Whatham (1974) UK 92 mins U

On holiday with their mother in the Lake District in 1929 four children are allowed to sail over to the nearby island in their boat Swallow and set up camp for a few days. They soon realise this has been the territory of two other girls who sail the Amazon, and the scene is set for serious rivalry.

Alfred Hitchcock (1958) USA 128 mins PG

From the 1950s

An ex-police officer is asked to follow an old friends wife who thinks she is being followed by ghosts. A classic Hitchcock about a man who’s afraid of heights and a woman he must unfortunately follow to great heights.

Supported by the National Lottery through the BFI and Creative England

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