Photograph of the Grytviken Kino

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Between 1926 and 1930 many of the whaling companies installed cinemas to entertain their staff. Unfortunately, the Grytviken Kino (cinema) collapsed following hurricane strength winds in 1994. Although the building has long since gone, the existence is now only represented by photographs, archives and personal anecdotes.

This poster advertising the showing of ‘Tennessee’s Partner’ at the Grytviken Kino in 1960.  The poster is typed in three languages, English, Norwegian and Spanish, which shows the diversity of the workforce.

Nan Brown gave an account in her book “Antarctic Housewife” from her time living as the wife of the government officer in 195?

“The cinema (Kino) at Pesca, which doubled as a table tennis hall, was a small wooden building, with an upstairs gallery, capable of seating about three hundred on a miscellaneous collection of benches and chairs.  Whatever the film, it commanded a capacity audience, with first in getting the best seats.  I did not have to join in this scramble, as I enjoyed the privilege of the front seat on the balcony, reserved for ‘top brass’, ladies and their husbands.  Heating was no problem; though there was a stove, most of the heat came from the closely packed bodies, with the result that the atmosphere often became quite uncomfortable.  Since it was a wooden building, smoking was forbidden, so that interval time saw a general stampede of smokers, and the overheated bent on cooling off in the night air.

A whaling audience is an uninhibited one, with spectators expressing views and suggestions freely throughout the show.  Love scenes progressed to the accompaniment of cheers, whistles, ecstatic moans, and from one fellow, a cat-like purr of pure feline contentment that never failed to reduce me to giggles.  Boring programmes were enlivened by reversing the film and by the men’s comments, so outrageous that I must surely have been blushing to the roots of my hair.  At such times the dim light was a blessing indeed!  ‘Kino’ nights were a welcome break from the normal hard routine of a whaler’s life and an atmosphere of lighthearted frivolity prevailed, accentuated occasionally by a group with a jealously guarded bottle of spirits, celebrating a birthday or a happy event at home.”