Monday, 5 December 2011

Object of the Week 4: Revealed

We had some excellent thoughts this week on what that mystery record was all about. Well done to Ian and Stephen on twitter and Kate on the blog for knowing that it was a record and making some good guesses as to its use.

No-one quite managed to guess the real story behind the record though, so here goes!

The record lives in a cabinet in the projector room, which has this fantastic notice on it:

That's right - the record was the fire alarm! A lot of early cinemas weren't fitted with fire alarms for fear that it would panic the audience if it went off. At the Regal, staff would be made aware of a fire by the playing of 'Going Home' from the film 'Local Hero' across the cinema's audio system. We're not sure what happened before the release of Local Hero, or whether they had a back-up song for when Local Hero was showing that week!

As you can see from the picture above, the record was a special cinema release. Cinemas were sent music from films by the film distributors to play before and after the presentation reel, to set the mood for the films and, we suppose, to act as some kind of advertising.

Film soundtracks were (and still are in some cases) read on an optical track from the film itself. After Christmas I'll put up a blog post all about film soundtracks, for those of you who are interested!

Back to the fire alarm; you'll all be glad to know that the Regal does have a proper fire alarm these days, with flashing red lights and noisy sirens. The record still lives in the cabinet though, just in case.

We hope you enjoyed this week's mystery object; this Friday we'll have a Christmassy mystery film for you to guess!

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