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Tuschinski Theater

To maintain our sanity during this year long "walkabout" we've made it a point to do a few of the same things in each country we've visited. These have included having one meal in a McDonalds, checking out local television, and going to at least one movie. Noting the similarities and differences has been a fun exercise, and an interesting way to judge the world we live in.

But of all the movies we went to, one theater stands out as the most unique. In Amsterdam is the world famous "Tuschinski Theater," a place that any visitor to this beautiful city must see.

Built in 1921 by a Polish immigrant to the Netherlands, Abram Tuschinski, it is an architectural dream palace. He wanted to build a cinema "for the people," a place where the common folk could enjoy the new worldwide sensation of cinema with the pride and joy he felt. He also happened to like the new Art Deco fashions.

Hiring architects from around Europe, their designs carried Art Deco to new heights, and combined a few other schools of design into the interior and exterior. The result was an awesome palace combining applied arts and architecture into a visually rich, excessive, swirling, nearly gothic whole – a place that looks a bit like the house set to the movie "Casper."

Vast wool rugs over highly polished wood floors, richly designed silk wall papers, light fixtures that range from Tiffany-like to something Wes Craven might have designed (brass claws and torturous projections creeping around corners and over marble balconies), inlaid woods and luscious curves wrapping around masculine angles, a Wurlitzer pipe organ made in America and looking like a WWI military tank, VIP rooms--all of which is made accessible by either going to a movie or taking the guided tour.

The entire place is a wonder to walk into. A full bar serving cold beer, mixed drinks and hefty expressos lends a decidedly "adult" atmosphere without the three Xs. And to sit in the overstuffed chairs in the theater and try to concentrate on the movie is a real task with so many extravagant visuals surrounding you.

Definitely a place not to miss. And, it's so well known we don't need to give the address. Just ask anyone on any street. They'll point the way with pride.

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