I’ve found myself at a movie theater near the center of Amsterdam twice recently. I always get very into going to movies with my mom when I’m home for the summer. Usually I can’t follow through on all the trailers I planned on seeing that upcoming fall because of school stress but I’m happy to say that that hasn’t happened yet here. It’s a nice, familiar pocket to visit. Sure, it takes us twice as long to navigate the Dutch machines and buy our tickets and we don’t always understand what we’re buying, but the setting is more than redemptive. Sure, I miss the copious amounts of butter slathered on every piece of popcorn in America, but I must admit I’m a fan of the candy offerings here in Amsterdam.
At first it’s difficult to even find what theater we’re in, forgetting the European system of the ground floor of a building being considered “Level 0.” We scale the theater, walking through staircases no customer has been on in years while we try to find where theater six could possibly be. After we’ve spent far too long searching we finally find it, almost late to our movie after all the hassle.
In Amsterdam there are no pre-trailer commercials on in the theaters. You walk into a well lit, empty movie theater and sit in the quiet until the screens promoting future events at that theater eventually appear in Dutch on the screen above. My friends and I try to figure out what they say, use the pictures of popcorn and camera reels as context clues. Finally the trailers begin, a conglomerate of what’s new in Hollywood mixed in with a couple Dutch films the theater is working to promote.
I’ve seen two movies here, BlacKkKlansman and A Star is Born. Two very different movies that illustrate both the parts I miss most about America and the parts I’m most fearful to return to. It’s safe to say the first left the Americans in the theater with a particularly unsettled feeling throughout, while the Dutch were watching this like the movie it was, some parts cut a bit too close to home for the rest of us. I went to the movie with someone from Colorado, where it’s based, and it was fascinating to watch him argue with himself about whether he could feel homesick from a movie that talks about the ugliest parts of his home. The second movie reminded me more of the home I’m used to coming from Los Angeles. I remembered bits of what it feels like to be surrounded by that industry, what it feels like when there’s so much talent around you that you can’t help but begin to suffocate.
I love these nights. Nights when I’m out with friends and we can be briefly reminded of home and then jump back into our study abroad experience so seamlessly. This is how I want to remember Amsterdam. French fry hands greasing bike handlebars, bridges over the canals that look too perfect to be real, a long list places to eat and things to see before we run out of time.
Image credits and all rights to pathe.nl
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<p>My name is Makai Andrews, born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I attended a boarding school, Interlochen Arts Academy, for my final two years of high school in northern Michigan before making another big jump across the country to study as a double major in writing and psychology at Ithaca College. Right now, I am working on coming to the conclusion that in order to write well, you have to live well.</p>