Revisiting Cinematic Nostalgia: Tales from Royal Theatre in Alor Setar

by Rahim Said

Image courtesy of movie promo

In the quaint town of Alor Setar, where the memories of yesteryears echo through the narrow streets, the cinematic experience was once a cherished ritual for families. 

Amidst the four major theatres – Cathay, Empire, Rex, and Royal – it was the latter that held a special place in the hearts of my brothers and me. Fondly remembering our father’s tradition of treating us to classic movies glorifying the Roman Empire, the Royal Theatre became the backdrop of our childhood nostalgia.

As young minds, we may not have comprehended the historical significance of the Roman Empire, but the allure of elaborate costumes and captivating swordplay on the silver screen was enough to spark our imaginations. Post-movie, our humble abode transformed into an arena where wooden swords and shields clashed in epic duels that stretched until the golden hues of sunset.

In our pursuit to emulate Roman archers, we once fashioned bows and arrows from bamboo, only to accidentally unleash an arrow that grazed the calf of the local kueh seller. 

The guilt that washed over us was palpable, but the lad nonchalantly handed back the arrow, assuring us it was a mere flesh wound. The relief mingled with lingering guilt became an indelible memory, a testament to the unintended consequences of our cinematic aspirations.

Among the vivid recollections, “Quo Vadis,” a 1951 film set in ancient Rome, holds a prominent place. The Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going?” encapsulates the epic tale of love, faith, and the clash between a Christian woman and a Roman warrior. The technicolor spectacle of the film, a rarity in an era dominated by black and white movies, enthralled us, leaving an everlasting imprint on our young minds.

As time marches on, my two brothers, once companions in these cinematic adventures, have passed away. Yet, the moral and ethical lessons gleaned from those days at the Royal Theatre endure. The inadvertent influences of ancient Rome became vessels of valuable insights, transcending the celluloid frames to shape our understanding of life’s complexities.

In the quiet corners of Alor Setar, the Royal Theatre stands as a silent witness to a bygone era, where innocence collided with imagination, and the magic of movies painted indelible strokes on the canvas of our memories.

Dr. Rahim Said is a human behaviourist and regular contributor on digital media platforms. He is a professional management consultant, a corporate trainer and an executive coach specialising in coaching of senior executives and individual entrepreneurs with the purpose of modifying their behaviour in the pursuit of their cherished missions. (The views expressed by our columnist are entirely his own)