While en route from Gozo to Budapest, we stayed overnight in Malta’s capital city of Valetta. We also took the opportunity to watch Pirates of the Caribbean in the local very modern and pleasant multiplex.
It’s modern in all respects but one–there’s an intermission in the film. I’d read this online a few months ago, and didn’t really believe that it was true.
And yet, during a tense scene between Kiera Knightley and Chow Yun Fat (that’s not a spoiler as far as I’m concerned), while Kiera (who’s beautiful, but always looks like she has too many teeth for her mouth) was in mid-line, the film stopped. The screen displayed one groovy graphic that read “Intermission”, and most of the audience wandered outside for…what…cigarettes, refreshments and the toilets.
In the middle of a scene. The intermission seemed more or less randomly selected. Or, maybe it’s stipulated that it’s exactly two-thirds of the way through the film. In any case, it struck me as utterly ridiculous.
There are plenty of times when you shouldn’t judge another culture’s practices, but this ain’t one of them. Nearly all films are created to be viewed in one sitting, uninterrupted (the only exception I can think of is Kenneth Brannagh’s four-hour Hamlet). I’d have no complaints if filmmakers planned on intermissions the way playwrights do, but they don’t.
I must ask some of my Maltese colleagues what the deal is with this practice, and whether they prefer it.