Nation gorges on a feast of film

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The Independent Online
Film fans, enticed by a special pounds 1 ticket offer, flocked to picture houses and multiplexes all over Britain yesterday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of cinema. Quentin Crisp's comment that "any movie, even the worst, is better than real life' seemed apt.

National Cinema Day applied to every cinema in Britain and offered early showings of forthcoming Hollywood films such Up Close and Personal starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer and The Truth About Cats And Dogs, starring Uma Thurman and the British actor Ben Chaplin. There were also screenings of classics such as Alien and Citizen Kane.

The average multiplex cinema would have given a particularly rich mix. Enthusiasts could perhaps start with the celluloid comfort of Babe, pop into the next cinema to see Anthony Hopkins signing away his presidency in Nixon, then simply inhale Smoke and the craft of Harvey Keitel.

The day is intended as the highlight of a year-long celebration of the centenary and included such events as a street party for 150 Variety Club children in Leicester Square and the screening of The Creature From The Black Lagoon complete with 3D special effects in Andover, Hampshire. In Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, the Kinema in the Woods is holding an Open Day, with a singalong when the Compton organ rises from the pit in the interval.

It was hard to recall that for a while in the Eighties, with cinema audiences at a low ebb, the nation seemed to have forgotten the companionable pleasure of evenings devoted to the big screen.

As cinema moves out of its first century, exactly what dreams may come to be dispensed at the box office is anyone's guess.

Romantic images we may have entertained of animators bent over sheaths of drawings have been dispelled by one of this year's hits, Toy Story. Its use of technology is more likely to summon a more prosaic picture of designers huddled around computers.

It is fitting that the young Martin Scorsese gleaned his encyclopaedic knowledge of the movie-going experience by watching The Big Sleep 400 times at his local picture house. Quentin Tarantino, meanwhile, drew his inspiration through lounging behind the counter of a video store.

Top ten UK earners

1. Jurassic Park (pounds 47.1m)

2. Four Weddings and a Funeral (pounds 27.8 m)

3. Ghost (pounds 23.3m)

4. Lion King (pounds 23.1m)

5. ET (pounds 21.7m)

6. Crocodile Dundee (pounds 21.5m)

7. Mrs Doubtfire (pounds 21.3m)

8. Toy Story (pounds 20.6m)

9. Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (pounds 20.5m)

10.The Flintstones (pounds 20.2m)

The critics' top ten

1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles) 1941 US

2. La Regle Du Jeu (Jean Renoir) 1939 France

3. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu) 1953 Japan

4. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock) 1958 US

5. The Searchers (John Ford) 1956 US

6. Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray) 1955 India

7. Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (Carl Dreyer) 1928 France

8. L'Atalante (Jean Vigo) 1934 France

9. The Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein) 1925 USSR

10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick) 1968 US