A 119-year-old cinema in central London is reopening to the public after more than 30 years behind closed doors.

Regent Street Cinema was the first place to show a film in the UK, the Lumiere brothers’ Cinematographe, which toured the world in 1896.

Their moving picture included boats going into a harbour, workers coming out of a factory and a train coming into a station, similar to the modern slow TV movement.

It was also where the first X-rated film, La Vie Commence Demain, or Life Begins Tomorrow, featuring Picasso, atomic bombs and a rabbit dissection, was shown in Britain in 1951.

And before the days of ubiquitous TV sets, international broadcasting and Twitter, newsreels were shown during World War Two to Londoners whose loved ones were away fighting.

Now, the cinema has been rebuilt in an art-deco style by architect Tim Ronalds after it was closed to be used for lectures by its owner, the University of Westminster, in 1980.

The £6.1m restoration project opening to the public features a new programme aiming to include independent British cinema, young directors and film-makers from London.


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