“There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator.”

The scene is a theater from the 1920s. It is a weeknight, yet the line of people waiting to get in extends over an entire block. People are chique, some 1920s style, some more contemporary. You can feel the excitement in the air, mixed with subtle anxiety of whether the salon will fit the entire crowd.

Once you pass the ticket booth, an elegant, handsome young man in a black, tailed tuxedo welcomes you to “The Michigan.” The grand chandeliers are lit, spreading the gentleman’s elegance throughout the foyer. It feels like you’ve traveled in time, back to when “The Michigan” was young and in its prime. People shuffle into the theater mindlessly, or rather as if they’re robots programmed for one task: looking for a good enough seat in the already half full room. The wise old star of the evening sits calmly in its usual place in the front left corner of the stage. Today, it is nicely lit. It watches the old excitement return.  Nostalgia is in the air.

As the lights grow dim, the organist takes the stage to tell the history of Metropolis, and the theater and its beautiful organ. He tells us we are about to experience an unforgettable night, for back in the day, this theater was built to screen movies exactly like Metropolis. He is an internationally acclaimed organist in the field of accompanying silent movies, and this theater and its organ are one of the few originals left in the country.

The excitement rises. The organist takes his place. As the screen lights up with trembling black and white images, the organ’s light dims and it slowly moves lower into the ground. It is a long movie, but never mundane. Thanks to a one-man orchestra, I watch attentively, always on the edge of my seat with delightful expectation of what will happen next, and what tune will accompany it. It truly is unforgettable.


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