Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My In-Laws and the Movies

When my in-laws were still alive, back in 1990, they came from Italy to visit. Not speaking any English and being older, they were with us most of the time. Our kids were young then and they sure loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Of course, they wanted to see the movie when it came out and mommy and daddy (that's me) acquiesced. I turned to my in-laws and told them we were going to see this movie and asked them if they would like to come, not believing that they would.

Why not? Well, that takes a little explanation. My in-laws grew up during the depression and learned the value of a lira. They scrimped and saved all their lives and went without most of the luxuries of life that many of us consider necessities. They had not, in fact, gone to a movie theater since...1960! Why spend money on movie tickets when there were a lot of great old westerns on their black-and-white TV?

So off we went to the theater. Those of us who have gone more than once in our lives know there are certain protocols when sitting in a theater. Well, my father-in-law didn't know or didn't care. He decided to have a running commentary, in his Milanese dialect of Italian, on what was happening on the screen. He was amazed by the live action technology of costumed characters. He said one thing that had me rolling on the floor (among the discarded popcorn and gum): "Man, those turtles are big!" (In Italian, of course.) I tried to shush him a few times but not with a lot of enthusiasm because I was having so much fun hearing his comments. They were a lot more entertaining than the movie, but only if you knew Italian!

The next movie I took them to see was completely different. It was at the IMAX theater at the Smithsonian Air & Space museum in Washington, D.C. The movie was The Dream is Alive, and it was all about space travel, with actual footage taken by astronauts and others. The screen is three stories tall and the theater is wired for sound beautifully. My mother-in-law, a demure, quiet woman who hardly ever smiled, was sitting to my right. The lights dimmed, the screen was black, and the sounds of birds flying overhead could be heard. My mother-in-law had never experienced such a theater and instinctively looked up with a big smile on her face, looking for the birds and then realizing of course that there were none. Then the roar of a space shuttle blasting off started, the screen slowly brightening to show us the space shuttle on the ground, flames starting to spew out. It then blasted off, majestically. My mother-in-law's mouth dropped open in the biggest smile I had ever seen. She couldn't take her eyes away from this awesome sight, three stories high, the sounds permeating her and filling her with wonder and delight.

These are images of my in-laws and the movies: my father-in-law joking out loud through a children's movie, my mother-in-law as delighted as any small child at the sight and sound and wonder of an IMAX space shuttle blasting off into space.

1 comment:

Joe said...

In-laws are great for getting perspective.
I just about died laughing, picturing your father-in-law at the kid's movie. My father would have been the same, but in french.