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When you find yourself at number 26 of Regulierbreestraat, you will not know exactly what to think. It might seem like a blend of the The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Batman at its most Gothic, a series of horrific caves with a touch of Hollywood glamour. You will not be wrong but you could add a lot more because the peculiar Tuschinski Cinema building is a true emblem that arouses passion among both lovers and detractors of its aesthetics.
Although its appearance might suggest that even rites of witchcraft are held here, the Tuschinski is nonetheless a conventional cinema that shows film premiers and, after renovation, has several screens.
When you see the multicoloured facade of the Tuschinski Theater you will not know exactly what to look at to start with. The hypnotic kitsch of the building in fact begins with its two towers, which can seen from a distance above the neighbouring houses, continues with its great entrance door, which seems like a decorated grotto with a red carpet and outlandish lamps, and ends, when you look up, with the impressive art deco facade that, with all due respect, looks more like a film set than real architecture.
Although the cinema was called the Tivoli for years, its name comes from the man who had it built, Abraham Tuschinski. A Polish immigrant who arrived in Holland in the early twentieth century, Tuschinski noticed the boom in the world cinema business and decided to try his luck and open a cinema in Amsterdam.
This building was therefore constructed from 1918 to 1921. It was designed by the architect Hijman Louis de Jong, who achieved a feverish blend of art deco, Tuschinski’s particular taste, and the architectural style of the Amsterdam School, which was strongly influenced by expressionism.
The interior, designed by Pieter den Besten and Jaap Gidding, features a blend of luxury and gloom in the dark wooden carving, the stained glass windows, the yellow lamps and the bronze figures.
The first cinema, which will probably remind you of an opera house, is the most remarkable, once again because of its exuberant decoration, its eccentric retro touch, its flamboyant tapestries, carpets, boxes, paintings and, moreover, because it once had a pioneering and revolutionary heating and ventilation system that maintained the temperature the same throughout the building.
Do not get the idea that films were always projected here. For years, the Tuschinski operated as a music hall and received figures the stature of Judy Garland, Maurice Chevalier and Edith Piaf. Although in the nineteen-seventies it was definitively turned into a cinema, it still preserves the charm of yesteryear.
Nowadays, most cinemas have multi-screens with car parks, popcorn in all shapes and sizes and computerised box offices. Seeing a film here is therefore a fascinating experience. At the Tuschinski Theater you will feel as if you are entering Dracula’s castle. You can enjoy the film in peace, however, because no one is likely to bite you.
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