Interviewee, Bry Mogridge
Interviewer , Vaska Trajkovska
Date,11 September 2010
Bry was born in 1949. Her family moved to Brighton when she was three years for her father’s first teaching job.
Her family lived in Woodingdean but she remembers the Preston Circus area very well because her father worked in the area and they had friends there. She describes it as being rather run-down and very busy and noisy due to the high-density housing.
Bry remembers that when she was about 10 she wasn’t allowed to go to the Saturday Morning Film Club because the Duke of York’s was known as the “flea pit”.
The first and only time Bry went to the Duke of York’s was to see ‘Olympia’ by Leni Riefenstahl in 1968 or 1969
She was studying in London at the time and went to Brighton to see this film with her parents. It was a ticket-only event.
She describes how the Duke of York’s looked like something from Dickens as it had never changed. She remembers little of the interior but does remember that people smoked inside.
Bry recounts how the Olympics were held in Berlin in 1936 (when Jesse Owens won four gold medals) and Hitler commissioned Riefenstahl to make this film of the Games. He did not like what was produced – perhaps in part because Owens was portrayed as a superb athlete. The film was banned by Hitler.
Bry had always wanted to see the film and she found it to be absolutely amazing. She describes it as an “art film” and recounts the opening scene of the divers.
She remembers how she and her parents talked about the film up until their death.
Vaska: Did you get a sense from the other audience members how they felt about it?
Bry: Oh, everybody felt the same. It was, it was, silent while it was on. There was no sweet papers rustling or ice cream eating or any of that going on. I presume people smoked, because people did then. But it was, it was silent. And at the end people sat. I always think that’s the sign of a really good film when people don’t get up when the credits come up, they just sit there, and I know we walked out talking about it all the way home. It was a very, very moving film. And possibly the best place for it to have been shown was the Duke of York’s because if it had been shown in a modern, a modern cinema, it wouldn’t have been as effective, it was very beautiful.
She does not think the audience of the ‘Olympia’ were the ‘general’ public – tickets had to be booked in advance which was unusual at the time. Bry thinks the tickets may have been booked about six weeks in advance and the film shown in October.
She describes the film as an aesthetic vision of superb athletes. She doesn’t think the film was political but for the appearance of Hitler and the Nazi salute.
She remembers there being a musical soundtrack and that it was an art film as opposed to a documentary about the Olympics.
Vaska: When you were actually watching it, how were you feeling when you were watching this film?
Bry: Totally overawed by what I was seeing. I had never seen a film like it before and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one since. But totally overawed by the whole thing. I think that’s why it stayed with me for so long, well, forty-four years, it’s a long time to feel like that about a film, but, no, totally overawed by it, and when I came out I almost didn’t want it to finish, and it must have been October because we came out and it was dark. We saw it in the afternoon, I remember that, we saw it in the afternoon and came out and it was dark. And I needed the dark so that the film stayed with me. I didn’t need shoppers and bright lights. There was obviously noise but not that much.