Baroque Rules for Maltese Cinemas

I’ve been meaning to reference this editorial written about the baroque and hilariously dated regulations (PDF) for Maltese movie theatres. Some laws that are still on the books:

  • “A trained fireman licensed by the Commissioner of Police, or in his absence a member of the Police Force detailed to act as such by the Commissioner of Police, shall be in attendance at all the performances.” Man, that’s a lot of free movies for firemen and police officers.
  • “The exit and emergency exit lanterns shall be illuminated by means of candles or paraffin lamps, the lanterns to be made entirely of non-combustible material.”
  • “Cinematographs shall close not later than twelve midnight.” That’s impractical timing, but I mostly include it for the awesome term ‘cinematographs’.
  • “It is prohibited to introduce dogs into the auditorium or to keep or allow to be kept any dog therein.” That one’s still applicable, but I gather parrots, hamsters and ocelots are okay?

Here’s the most important one: “an interval shall in no case be held during the showing of the main feature film without the written permission of the Commissioner of Police.” This implies that intervals ought to be the exception, not the rule. And I doubt that theatres really have written permission for intervals in every movie. I’ve complained about the absurd intermissions in Maltese cinemas before. As it turns out, the law’s on my side.


  1. Darren, what’s so absurd about intermissions?

    Intermissions might give people a chance to stock up on Pop Corn and Coke, use the bathroom, have a cigarette, or have a chat before the film continues.

  2. Bobby: I covered this in a previous post. Let me quote myself to save time:

    Nearly all films are created to be viewed in one sitting, uninterrupted (the only exception I can think of is Kenneth Brannagh’s four-hour Hamlet). I’d have no complaints if filmmakers planned on intermissions the way playwrights do, but they don’t.

    I also said:

    Your enjoyment of [the film] is interrupted. Any inertia, excitement, intrigue (that is, emotional engagement) that you’ve built up gets severely dissipated.

    This matters less when watching, I don’t know, “Air Bud 4” than it does when watching “Hotel Rwanda”, but the same principle applies. I think it demonstrates a marked disrespect for the filmmakers, and detracts from the viewer’s experience.

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