Tenkrát v Hollywoodu (Or, Seeing an American Film in Europe)

Friday night I finally saw the long-awaited Tarantino film Once Upon a time in Hollywood. While it probably cracked my Top 10 list, this post is not intended to be a movie review. I want to share the experience of seeing an ultra-American movie while abroad. Two things to know off the bat: The theatre was packed, and a Friday night movie in the center of Prague only ran me $6!

Let’s kick this off with a throwback: During the visit to Zlín two weeks ago, we toured a facility which served as the headquarters for early Czech animation in the 20th century. During the tour, our guide said that the Czech film Journey to the Beginning of Time was an inspiration for Spielberg while developing the world of Jurassic Park. Check out the original 1955 trailer below, and let me know what you think!

During almost every tour I’ve been on with the cultural program, somebody brings up something about the United States. For the animation museum, it was Jurassic Park. At the Baťa factory, it was Henry Ford’s mass production techniques.

Tonight, we all laughed at Leo DiCaprio with a flamethrower.

When the film ended, I was nearly surprised to find myself in Prague. For almost three glorious hours, I had watched an American movie (with Czech subtitles) with people who are mostly from places other than the USA (and even less likely the West Coast, and surely none of them have toured the Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine, California.). And then I thought about how Tarantino’s flick may be the closest some people ever get to Hollywood, California, and the desert. My dad said the movie was creepily accurate in its depiction of 1960s SoCal, where he grew up. It does look nice from here.

My great-grandpa lookin’ suave in Hollywood (c. 1970?)

Strangely enough, this film gave me reason to reflect on my own upbringing. I was taken back to a time when Sunday mornings were signaled through hearing “Gunsmoke—Introducing James Arness as Matt Dillon.” Whether I like it or not, and as a child I definitely did not, few people probably tuned in to the parodies on American Westerns featured in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood the way I did. The memory of sneaking out of bed to eat ice cream with Dad when he got home from working night shift belongs to me–and me alone–in this big city. We all agreed it was a good movie, but I know I left with my heart more full than my friends could hardly imagine.

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