If there is a place where the timeless magic of cinema comes to life in the most suggestive and romantic way, it’s this lovely cinema on the Haarlemmerdijk, surrounded by many other neighbourhood picks from the Yays Neighbourhood Guide, near the characteristic Jordaan district in the west side of Amsterdam.
The oldest operating cinema in town, The Movies opened its doors in 1912 under the name Bioscoop Tavenu and has kept screening films through world wars and historic events, adapting to the times changing without losing an ounce of personality.
The current name was acquired in the Seventies, when The Movies established itself as the go-to cinema for arthouse titles. Over the years, the venue was expanded, to include today’s four screening rooms for a total of 400 seats, but it stayed the relatively small, unique independent cinema that local film fanatics adore.
For many years, The Movies featured Stanley Kubrick’s controversial A Clockwork Orange on its weekend late-night screenings. Kubrick had withdrawn the film from the British market, following protests for some graphic scenes. For many British tourists visiting Amsterdam, this meant that the unmissable chance to watch the forbidden masterpiece on the big screen for the first time at The Movies on the Harlemmerdijk. At least until the year 2000, after Kubrick’s death, when the film became legal in the UK.
To this day, The Movies is a local institution. Residents of Amsterdam West cannot help glancing at the classic billboard surrounded by light bulbs to see what’s on every time they cycle by. If you stay long enough, we bet you’ll pick up the habit.
If the façade of this XVII century building - in walking distance of Yays Bickersgracht and Yays Zoutkeetsgracht - is eye-catching, crossing the door will leave you in awe. Entering The Movies introduces you to a XX century silver-screen wonderland that will make you want to stay for a double feature night. The charming art deco interiors, carpeted floors and wooden walls create a stylish yet cosy atmosphere that will make you promise to yourself to never set foot in a big franchise multiplex again. After all, despite the nostalgic XX century look, sound and screening equipment are top notch and ensure a great viewing experience with nothing to envy multinational movie theatre chains.
Besides the beautifully decorated screening rooms, movie-goers enjoy the cosy café area, perfect for a date night or just about any night!
On a solo night out, take a seat in the wood-panelled room and watch the audience chat and buzz in anticipation before a screening or comment a film they just watched over a beer or two (watch out for spoilers)!
You can sip on a cup of tea or a refreshing Dutch beer while waiting for your movie to start, or even take your cup or wine glass into the screening room, which will remind you how watching a film in a real old-style cinema can feel like chilling at home, with extra points for the charming setting and the company of the local audience.
If you care to #unlocktheneighbourhood and make your stay in Amsterdam truly unforgettable and unique, don’t miss The Movies, rightly one of the best-loved spots in town, likely the most characterful cinema you’ll ever have the chance to visit, and surely one of the “neighbours” Yays is most proud of.
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