Run Cougar, Run
Long before Buzz, Woody et al arrived with their wonderful pixillated world, Disney had virtual carte blanche to foist whatever they chose upon pre teen children. And, deep in the bowels of their script writing department was some evil little bastard whose sole task was to ensure that the dog, cat, bear, dolphin or ocelot snuffed it in the final reel. OK, I lied about the ocelot, but you could guarantee that an otherwise rare treat to pictures would end in tears, with a hundred furious mothers assuring their kids that either there was a doggy heaven or that it was all pretend, while silently wishing Walt dead and swinging from the nearest tree.
A few enlightened decades on, filmmakers seem to have grasped the fact that there’s enough real life tragedy to go round and the audience, parents included, would be a damn site more likely to fork out for tickets and overpriced popcorn if everyone had fun. All of which takes us to Monpazier’s open air cinema. Through the summer, as dusk falls and the legions of presumably knackered swallows start to roost, the projector fires up and you can while away a couple of hours watching Hollywood’s latest. As you’d expect, it’s dubbed into French, but given the heat, the background chatter and the distractions of suicidal moths and vicious mosquitoes, your attention span is pretty limited anyway.
Discomfort aside, compare and contrast it all with your childhood holiday memories of queuing up in the rain outside some seaside Roxy. Bare knees red from the cold, you eventually tramp inside, find your seat then disappear into dust filled faux velvet, the stink of wet tobacco smoke heavy in the air. Better then your kids memories of a ceiling of stars above the screen and the gathering dew on the grass. And of a four legged hero who actually survives.