21 February 2012 by Chris Marais

See you at the movies

Movies in Hermanus – old-school style. Think Bogart, Monroe and a South African cultural history experience.

You know that song from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the 1 that talks about forbidden planet, androids fighting and such?

OK, that was the late Lesley Nielsen at his silliest, and that constant metallic whoo-whoo background sound aimed at adding some space oddity to the mix didn’t help either.

That whoo-whoo sound, I suspect, was caused by a thing called a theremin. Apparently you just waved your hands at this electronic instrument to get it to play. It was widely used by Hollywood to add ‘other-worldly’ qualities to their movies. Mmm.

The point is there’s a place in the Southern Cape seaside resort town of Hermanus where you can still see old movies like that. You can sit down in a dinkum red velveteen bijou armchair of a Saturday afternoon and watch various classics featuring the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe and Doris Day.

Walking through Romantiques is like having a live South African cultural history experience.

OK, so your argument is why bother when you have the classic movie channel on TV? Well, once you’ve been to Romantiques in downtown Hermanus you’ll see the point.

The rather publicity-shy ladies who run the place have set up a collection of, erm, collectibles in the form of old military gear, comic pottery, valuable enamel signage and just about everything from your great-grandma’s era. Walking through Romantiques is like having a live South African cultural history experience.

And somewhere near the back of this series of treasure caves is the old-time movie house, where they show the oldies twice a week – for free.

“It’s really just a service for our customers. Sometimes it’s full, and other times there are only 2 or 3 people,” says one of the owners.

The last time I visited Romantiques, they sat me down and showed me an old silent movie starring Laurel and Hardy. All you could hear was the whirring of the ancient projector, an occasional belly laugh from me and a whole lot of popcorn-crunching.

That’s right. They make popcorn at Romantique’s. And they make a lot of nostalgic people very happy indeed.

Enquiries: Romantiques: +27 (0)28 312 4226

Category: Culture & History

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