"Khudozhestvenny" - the oldest cinema in Moscow

There are not many operating cinemas in the world that are over 100 years old. One of them is the Moscow cinema "Khudozhestvenny", whose history begins in 1909, and, moreover, the building was originally built to show films, and not adapted for a cinema, as it often happened.

The construction of "Khudozhestvenny" was completed in 1909, when the domestic cinema was taking its first steps. The architect N.N. Blagoveshchensky worked on the project of the cinema, the hall was relatively small, it could simultaneously accommodate 400 spectators. But, the interest in the new art form was so great that there was no way to accommodate everyone. Therefore, four years later, the new owner of the institution, Alexander Khanzhonkov, decided that the building needed urgent reconstruction.

Now the famous architect F.O.Shekhtel took over the project. Soon a reconstructed cinema opened its doors in front of Muscovites, the number of seats in which was more than doubled to 925.

And what was shown to the audience in those years? According to the surviving documents, the first paintings were "Georgette", "Angel of Reconciliation" and "Mother's Death Wish." The films were short, 10-15 minutes long. "Khudozhestvenny" was extremely popular with the Moscow intelligentsia, one of the first visitors was Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy, and Sergei Yesenin also visited it. During one of the sessions, the audience was informed about his tragic death in the Leningrad hotel "Angleterre"

It is interesting that Leo Tolstoy very quickly became interested in cinema. In early 1910 he was shown a short documentary "Leo Tolstoy in Moscow" in Yasnaya Polyana. The writer expressed regret that the cinema did not appear earlier so that he could see his parents as he saw himself.

The Bolsheviks treated Khudozhestvennoye with care, especially since Lenin called cinema "the most important of the arts, " capable of educating a person in the spirit of the builders of communism. In 1921 Goskino became the owner of the cinema. Since January 1926, Sergei Eisenstein's film "Battleship Potemkin" was shown here, in 1931 the premiere of the first sound Soviet film "A Way to Life" took place, and in 1936 the first color picture "Grunya Kornakov" was premiered.

Many directors considered it an honor if the premiere of their film took place at Khudozhestvennoye. And viewers could get rid of the need to stand in line, "Khudozhestvenny" was the only cinema in the capital that provided a service for home delivery of tickets. In addition, the building housed a reading room, a buffet and even a children's room where parents could leave their child for the duration of the session. However, the prices were also appropriate, for day sessions a ticket cost from a ruble, and for evening sessions the price reached three and a half rubles.

Considering that at that time there was no Internet, VCRs and even television, the cinemas did not complain about the absence of spectators. Moreover, in 1927, at the 15th Party Congress, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin said that cinema could become an excellent source of income for the state budget, and even replace alcohol in terms of profitability. And the "leader of the peoples" was not only a movie lover, but also, at times, a strict critic.

After the end of the Great Patriotic War, the cinema was seriously reconstructed again. In 1955, a new screen was installed here, which amazed the audience with its size - 14 meters wide. For its manufacture, special plastic was used, thanks to which it was possible to significantly improve the image quality.

In the sixties, the "veteran" of Russian cinema began to give way a little, so in 1967, by the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution, the construction of a more modern, for that time, cinema "October" was completed. But, many Muscovites continued to willingly visit "Khudozhestvenny", which attracted with its patriarchal nature, keeping the memory of many legendary people who had visited here at different times.

In the dashing nineties, the cinema was not spared the problems that swept the whole country. It was necessary to somehow survive, so in the building of the "Khudozhestvenny" cinema halls "peacefully" coexisted with casinos and slot machine halls. But he survived without ceasing to serve his main purpose - cinema. On weekends, even night sessions were held here, which attracted a considerable number of spectators.

In 2009 "Khudozhestvenny" celebrated its centenary. The celebrations were held on a grand scale, a monument to the first spectator was unveiled, depicting a man dressed in the fashion of the early twentieth century and a monument to the first ticket. In the cinema, viewers could watch films from a century ago and visit the film poster exhibition. At the beginning of 2014 "Khudozhestvenny" was closed for reconstruction.