Cine Éden in São Luís do Maranhão – History

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Cine Eden in São Luís do Maranhão
Cine Éden in São Luís do Maranhão

Cine Éden is a sumptuous cinema-theatre whose façade is preserved and retains its original features, including the name of the space in self-relief.

In the first half of the 20th century, when São Luís was gaining modern airs, moving from an agrarian-export economy to an urban-industrial one, there was a growing number of cine-theatres in the capital distributed throughout the peripheral neighbourhoods and installed, for the most part, close to the factories and workers’ villages of the city, managing, albeit with a small capacity, to meet the demand of spectators in the region.

This golden past of cinemas is closely related to the installation of factories on the island and their policy of false compensation benefits for workers.

The owners of these industries were concerned about their employees.

It was important to them that the workers enjoyed good physical and mental health, as this would invariably reflect on the company’s production.

Cine Eden in São Luís do Maranhão
Cine Eden in São Luís do Maranhão

With satisfied workers, greater production, more profit for the directors”, elucidated Professor Paulo da Trindade Nerys, from the Department of Physical Education of the Federal University of Maranhão (UFMA), responsible for the study group on Cinema and Leisure of the course.

Cinemas – Urbanisation of São Luís

According to Manuela Nobre, a member of the research group, the process of urbanisation and organisation of working-class neighbourhoods contributed to the creation of cinemas.

The expansion of the urban centre took place with the formation of neighbourhoods, based on the factories’ installations in a straight line, from the centre, which did not go beyond the limits of Quinta do Barão de Bagé (today the former premises of the Colégio Marista and Apicum), to the rural area further into the city (Anil), a space that comprised the Caminho Grande route.

In 1983, the Santa Efigênia Factory was located in São Luís and in the last decades of the 19th century, the municipality already had five factories focused on cotton spinning and weaving.

The installation of cinemas in the workers’ villages brought, in a way, convenience to the employees.

Factory employees and their families did not have to stay away from the factories to enjoy their leisure time.

With the process of urbanisation and reorganisation of the city, it was essential to create appropriate environments close to home for their hobbies.

Factory owners spared no effort to build these spaces. There were many investments.

This implied greater control over the workers who were the continuation of the machines.

Allied to this situation, the improvement of public and private transport, such as the expansion of tram lines, for example, implied greater access to the different leisure places scattered throughout the cities”, explained Paulo da Trindade.

Cine Eden in São Luís do Maranhão
Cine Eden in São Luís do Maranhão

Workers’ villages

Factories such as Companhia Industrial Carioca, in the Areal neighbourhood (now Monte Castelo), and Companhia de Fiação e Tecidos do Rio Anil, in the village of Anil, where the Rio Anil Integrated Centre (Cintra) now stands, are directly responsible for the beginning of cinemas.

In the latter, until then sparsely populated, since it was considered a rural area where residents of the centre of São Luís used to spend their holidays, at least 4 cinemas were opened. In 1913, the popular cinema Petit was created.

From then on, other spaces began to appear, such as the Rialto, from 1927, the Cine Anil and the Rivoli, both without a precise opening date.

In João Paulo and its surroundings, which was home to tanneries, spinning mills and phosphorus factories, among others, the Cine Rex was opened, which soon specialised in action films in the Bang Bang style.

In the Areal neighbourhood (now Monte Castelo), there was at least one factory, the Companhia Industrial Carioca. “In this specific case, it cannot be said that the installation of the cinema was not only due to the factory, but was also motivated by the expansion of the middle class that populated this area”, said Manuela Nobre.

There is also the industrial complex of the Centre / São Pantaleão / Fabril / Camboa, whose workforce came from Lira, Belira, Codozinho and Madre Deus.

To serve this population there was the Cine Rialto (Rua do Passeio, near the Djalma Marques Hospital – “Socorrão”), although other cinemas in the city were not so far from these neighbourhoods.

However, the other cinemas were intended for the wealthier class, such as Cine Éden (on Rua Grande, now Loja Marisa), a sumptuous cinema-theatre whose façade is quite preserved, maintaining original features, including the name of the space in self-relief.

Despite being elitist, its box office was of the same value as other cinemas.

Decline of the Cinema

The decline of this project came with the modernisation of the media. According to the professor, in the same way that women put aside their romance novels to go to the cinemas at weekends, this audience for film productions was preferring meetings with friends to listen to radio programmes.

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