My first time at the cinema I was around five years old. We had come up from the Coromandel to Auckland, visiting relatives on my mum’s side. We were all country but somehow the grown-ups must have reached a decision to do something proper city. That’s when as far as I can tell, we arrived at the old Civic Theatre on Queen Street this night. Armed with customary popcorn and lollies, we entered the darkened space, all bronze embossed gilt edges and deep hued trim. I could not help but be indelibly impressed by the two apparently giant, golden lions sitting as the sphinx, stretched out in either corner. Noble guardians fiercely watching as bulwarks, for the preservation of that towering projection screen our film choice was to finally play upon. It felt to me drifting in through that theatre, I had suddenly stepped into grander times past. Perhaps even another world? It turned out that the latter was true as Tim Burton’s BATMAN flung me from Auckland straight into Gotham city itself. Thrillingly introduced to Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as The Joker with the luminescent Kim Basinger as Vicky Vale. I didn’t know the actors names then, it was only the characters seen and loved. For so long I was transfixed by this outrageous dystopian dream of good guys and bad guys - completely outside of my own. It was pure fun from start to finish and I felt giddy with awe and some relief as the hero at last vanquished his villain, and the lights came up. Returned to some kind of normal and sated in Hollywood magic, we trundled out from the cinema. Leaving forever, I stole one last corner-glance at the lions who stared back silent, unaltered in their eternal gaze.