Milan Urban

My first ever Italian cinema experience

In which I feel I've gotten to a decent level of Italian.

Moving abroad can have a profound impact on your social life not only because you loose your friends, but also because access to your favorite activities becomes difficult. That experience was not so strong when I relocated to Rotterdam, as the Netherlands have a huge diversity of cultural activities taking place in English. Like Germany (outside of maybe Berlin, München, Hamburg, Köln, and Düsseldorf), Italy does have a much smaller number of such activities – and those that exist develop on a much smaller scale. Take movies: Foreign movies are basically never translated into Dutch (exception: child movies), just subtitled. It’s just not enough Dutchies to be worth the cost. But the Italian and German markets are larger, so dubbing is common. Offers exist. In Milan, however, these offers are almost entirely restricted to Arthouse cinemas.

It comes as no surprise, but I haven’t been much to cinemas since moving. To be fair, I’m not a big cinema person anyways, as I shy away from the exorbitant cost for special effects that I deem unnecessary. Quite frankly, I don’t need ever more realistic explosions, but I’d rather see Hollywood invest into better writers, more original stories, or creative film sets (thinking about Wes Anderson here). But I recognize that I’m in a minority position here. But there’s one type of cinema that I really enjoy: that Summer night open-air-in-a-nice-and-cozy spot.

And Milan has quite an extensive offer for that. From June to Mid-September, there are six movies every night at different locations. As is typical for open-air cinemas, they tend to be second-tier movies from the past two years or Arthouse movies from the past five years. We picked Gold, starring Matthew McConaughey.

I’ve seen better trailers. Maybe not a movie I would buy a regular cinema ticket for. But it had something catchy to it. And, noteworthy, something that would fit with the vibe of an open air cinema. Also, the trailer gave the idea that the story line would be rather straightforward, making it easier to follow. (That was maybe not entirely accurate, though.) Because, still, it would be on screen in Italian.

I convinced the girl that I was up for the challenge, and that I would enjoy already the atmosphere even if I were to have major difficulties understanding the movie. So we went. Great idea. We certainly picked well, as Italian voices pronounced very clear, there was little overlapping shouting and fighting, and while the story had quite a number of heavy plot turns, they were kind of predictable. That’s normally not a great compliment for a movie, but it helped in this case. Which made for a very empowering experience along the lines of: less guest, more citizen.


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