Hollywood restoration needs your help

Left Luggage
Hollywood Theatre
$5 adults, $4 seniors/children
April 13-19
Tonight 7:30 p.m.
Sat. – Thurs. 6:30 p.m.
also 8:30 p.m. Sat.
and 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sun.

The luggage contained silver and family photographs. Buried during World War II by a Jewish family, they also contained the past. “Left Luggage” brings history alive so that we can never forget the unbearable atrocites suffered by thousands of Jewish people. This movie comes to the Hollywood Theatre, another bookmark in time, as part of the Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Set in Antwerp, Belgium, in the early 1970s, “Left Luggage” brings to life the world before the war and mixes it with the world after. The main character is Chaja Sagebretch, played by Laura Fraser, a philosphy student and daughter of Holocaust surivors.

Her mother Marianne is drugged, possessed and spouts a stream of complaints and advice like, “tight jeans will give you cancer.”

Chaja’s father is also a few cans short of a six pack, as he searches the countryside in hopes of finding suitcases he buried. Trapped by their memories of the concentration camps, her parents communicate barely more than the mute child Simcha, who is under Chaja’s care.

Isabella Rossellini stars as an ultra-Orthodox Jewish mother of the “quiet boy,” opposite of her spouse Mr. Kalman, played by the film’s director, Jeroen Krabbe.The story follows the intricate relationship Chaja has with her parents and constrasts it with her job as Simcha’s nanny. She becomes attached to the five-year-old, even though he doesn’t speak.

As she gets to know the boy better, she realizes there isn’t a medical reason for his silence; he just chooses to say nothing. Past, present, family and work soon collide and ultimately unite in this tragic tale.

Krabbe alternates between exaggeration and sentiment. The main characters are complex and he skillfully weaves a surprise ending, which promises to stir real emotion.

Most movies about Hasidic life are consumed with caricatures and Krabbe offers a refreshing view.

April 13 through the 19 will find this view on the big screen at the Hollywood Theatre. Located along Portland’s Northeast Sandy Boulevard, in the heart of the business distrct, the theater has provided family entertainment since it opened in 1926.

Back then, general admission was 25 cents and children were admitted for 10 cents. A quarter could get you a lot in those days, like an eight-piece orchestra and an organist to accompany the silent films in addition to the variety of acts rounding out the evening.

A beautiful Byzantine exterior compliments the 1500-seat space inside. Plenty of room was needed in the old days for the war drives, civic oriented causes and community events.

In the early 1960s, Portland residents packed the Hollywood for an amazing three-projector, widescreen and stereo experience. This innovation was christened the “Cinerama.” Films such as “Grand Prix,” “How the West Was Won” and “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” delighted thousands each day. In 1975, the Hollywood was split into three smaller auditoriums to compete with another new innovation, the multiplex.

The glory days of the Cinerama and the Hollywood found itself floundering after the other forgotten neighborhood theaters. Holding on strong to the mission of fostering an understanding and appreciation for Oregon’s film heritage, the Oregon Film & Video Foundation purchased the theater from Act III Theatres in April of 1997 and began the process of renovation. This task has been a slow undertaking and relies mostly on volunteer help from the community.

Already, the safety and comfort of the audience has been improved with painting, removal of the concession stand, a security system, and carpet cleaning. The theater still has a long way to go and the Oregon Film & Video Foundation needs the community’s help once again. The boiler needs reinsulation, the backstage areas need remodeling, and the hand-painted images inside plead for restoration.It is clear that the theater is emitting a strong call to the Portland community. Not only is it asking for your time and donations, but it invites you to honor the Holocaust. “Left Luggage” costs only $5 for an adult, so you’ll get more than your money’s worth. One great movie, plus one great theater, equals two great experiences.