Indisputably the best cinema experience in Milan for Italian films is Sala 1 at the Odeon Theater at via Santa Radegonda, 8 next to the Duomo Cathedral. The restored remains of a 19th century theater in perfect condition await unsuspecting cinema-goers at the theater just off the Corso di Vittorio Emmanuele also known as Space Cinema. Inside the veritable temple to film, 200 velvet seats fill a raked flooring in what appears to be a restored opera house similar to Milan’s other temple, Teatro Alla Scala. Tiered Barocco-styled balconies in heavy burnished wood and a framed finished stage surround the giant screen reminiscent of the first days of cinema. The Latin motto engraved above stage frame completes the experience of finding life through darkness, “Ex Tenebris Vita.”
The Odeon changed in 2009 to a Space Cinema, a movie house that also uses its space as a theater for live performance and social events. “Cinema Paradiso” director Giuseppe Tornatore’s epic autobiography about becoming a filmaker, “Baaria” premiered here in 2009 and ever since, a new Italian film has featured in Sala 1 every weekend. Opening today at the Odeon Theater in downtown Milan is “Buona Giornata” the latest comedy starring Diego Abatatuono star of the Oscar-winning Italian film “Mediterraneo.”
Critics may pan or applaud the films shown in Sala Uno but no one can dispute the absolute grandeur of the setting for film-watching.