Entertainment Nostalgia

It seems that magic is back in the running as a viable form of contemporary entertainment for the first time in 10, 30 or 80 years – depending on your viewpoint. Along with that is the return of entertainment nostalgia in general. Perhaps the two go hand in hand?

As I write this I just saw a screening of the new ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ in a Finnish cinema. The listings here are a little behind for some movies, a problem that will in a few short sentences cause me to reflect on a movie I am yet to actually see.


Aside: In case you’re interested (and I make no such assumption) the movie audio track was in the original English, with the Finnish and Swedish subtitles displayed along the bottom. English speaking people tend to find subtitles an abhorrent bore, where most non English speaking countries take it as a constant and necessary companion to most of the films they see.

The movie I’ve not yet had the chance of watching is ‘The Greatest Showman’. It doesn’t get released here until the 19th and I’ll be first in line for a ticket. My Facebook feed is buzzing daily with people saying they’ve seen it two or three times and only manage to survive the intervals by intravenously dripping the soundtrack directly into their veins via Spotify.


As it turns out, having not seen the movie is no boundary to what I’m about to talk about, because I’ve seen the trailer and it tells me all I need to know. Both movies are about the past, and they both paint a highly romantic and beautiful picture of ‘how things used to be’.

The real shame here is that if you know where to look, they still are.

‘Murder On The Orient Express’, putting the dead guy aside, shows a scenic and wondrous journey taken on a beautifully designed train with high class waiter service and a nice cheese board to finish the meal.
I can tell you first hand it still exists because I’ve worked on it. My friend John Harding is the resident magician on board and the one day I covered for him is among my favourite gigs of all time. It was as special for me as it was the passengers and I plan to book as a guest soon.

The Greatest Showman is about an aspirational group of talented performers who unite over their shared differences and commit their lives to entertaining people. Trust me when I tell you, these people also still exist. Some of them live in my house.

Perhaps instead of going to see this movie for the third of fifth time , you should go out and see a real circus. Buy a ticket to a magic show, a sideshow, burlesque, a variety evening or any sort of performance that features real live people.

Otherwise the only way to see them will soon be by looking back on it via the movies.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE movie fan. I go to the cinema 3-4 times per week when I can and see it as another thing well worth supporting. I just want everyone to consider that the nostalgic, eye catching and jaw dropping world of variety they see in these movies isn’t a bygone era, it’s right now.

So here’s my advice. Take out your phone and look for a live show near you. Buy a ticket, go see it. Put your phone back in your pocket, don’t film it. Just be there. Share an amazing experience with a room full of strangers that will never happen in that exact way again. Be part of a moment that your very presence helps to create. I promise you, it’s much more addictive and the only option you’ll have to satisfy your new addiction, is to go see another one.


Mark James


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