Farewell Marzipan

Thank you. We are overwhelmed by the many expressions of love and condolences and by the wonderful, kind, funny and caring tributes sent in over this past week to honour Melbourne’s most loved feline, Marzipan. Below is a collection of your memories and sentiments, of which we are sure Marzipan would be most pleased and proud to see.

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Painting by Jo Lias

Farewell Ms. Marzipan,
You where always  a dignified and welcoming presence on the couch and strolling  the foyer.
You will be missed by me and I’m sure thousands more. – Philip Byrt

Marzipan represented the whole ‘old friend feel’ of the Astor… My mother went there in the ’40s, I have been going there since the ’70s and my daughter since the ’80s, she remembers Marzipan when she was a little girl of 4 in the ’90s as she got a fright when Marzipan brushed up against her in the dark, which soon became total delight that they let a cat in!! – Jewd

While alive she met more people than the Prime Minister ever will and was better liked. – Graeme and Lucile

Dear Marzipan, you have been the resident cat at the Astor Theatre for many years and today we lost you to heaven…the Astor Theatre will always be your home so thank you for sharing your love and your home with us all over the last 21 years….you will be forever missed and your, grace and presence will be forever remembered by those who got to meet you …your spirit will live on..Rest in Peace Marzipan – Love Nicole, Michael, Bailey and Harvey xxxx

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Photo by Alex Fraser

The long life that she enjoyed inside the historic Astor Theatre is testimony to the extreme love and care demonstrated by yourself and the cinema staff.  Her life was most enviable even to humans. She will be missed for so long as she is remembered. – Mark Vanselow

Rest in peace Marzipan. You will always be the true lady of the theatre. May your memory live on in all of us that witnessed your extraordinary ‘mad cat dash’ through the cinema. We will forever miss your strategically placed couch presence and, on occasion, a snuggle before the show.  You will be missed. – Lou & Mick XOXOX

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Photo by Gail Greatorex

Goodbye Ms Marzipan, it has been a pleasure. Frolic happily in catty heaven. My Max is up there & he will show you the ropes xx – Rina Chia

Dear Little Marzipan, A beautiful gentle little cat that was one of the joys of visiting the Astor. How very sad it will be that you are not there to let us greet you. Marzipan, you will always be in our memory – Jill Cook

Marzipan was a great comfort to me in the weeks after my beloved pet’s death.
I am not a natural cat person, due to being allergic, so I never went out of my way to get her attention. But just week’s after my bereavement she came and sat on my lap during The Master, and stayed for the entire film. Like Marzipan, my dog didn’t cope well with the heat. My heart goes out to her, and all her human friends. – Louise Maskell

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Photo by Dinja

So sorry to hear Marzipan’s left us. What a great and long life she had – how many cats get to have a cinema as their home ?  She will be sadly missed. – B.Stevens

Dear Astor Theatre, Our condolences at the passing of Mazipan. She was such a delightful hostess, always greeting us while we were waiting in the foyer. I’m sure she is now happily greeting eternal movie goers in the great art deco foyer in the sky.
She will be sorely missed. – Anita Sloss and family

Many years ago, I was watching a film whose title I have long forgotten. What I do remember is that Al Stewart’s song “Year of the Cat” was playing before the movie. As if on cue, Marzipan strolled across the stage … – Mike Krochmal

You brought joy to many people, and were a constant companion as you moved around from couch to couch, looking for a warm spot or another friend. You did have a sneaky side jumping up on people at the scary parts of movies. – Jason Grasso

To Marzipan, thank you for the love and warmth you showed on each of my visits to the Astor.  Although there were long gaps when we did not meet you were always welcoming and happy to share your space and your time and it takes a special being to rule at such a place.  Queen of the Astor, you will always have a space in my heart.  – Caroline Waters

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Photo by Dinja

What a lovely and lucky cat to have such a special home and have so many care for her. – Sally Jandric

I have had four cats in my life, I count Marzipan as number five.  it was always a pleasure to see her mooching about and it was always an honour to have her sit on my lap for a few minutes.  I remember in the past year during a screening of Iron Man, she jumped up on the bannister in front of the screen and created a cat shaped silhouette during a battle scene. The audience simultaneously went ‘awww Marzipan so cute’.  Thank you to the staff of the Astor for looking after Marzipan over her 21 years. – Laura Devenish.

She was a gracious, beautiful feline and I remember vivdly; her jumping onto the couch to sit next to my 85-year-old dad to be patted and cooed to! I think they were both purring that evening. You will be missed Marzipan. – Elly Levis

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Photo by Aidan and Shami

Marzipan has been such an important part of mine and my partner’s cinema going experience at the Astor over the past 20 years. I will never forget the time when Marzipan leapt up onto my lap during a screening of Giant. She stayed there for the first half of the film and sweetly purred her way through it.  I am normally allergic to cats but for some reason I never had an allergic reaction to Marzipan. I think this says something. Goodbye sweet lady. You will be sorely missed and fondly remembered for years to come. – Stuart and Steven

Live in Nashville now but use to love going to the Astor and spending time with Marzipan in the foyer before a film. She was so friendly and definitely a little celebrity. Remember the last time I saw her after leaving the theatre curled up sleeping on a chair. Will always associate her with the Astor Theatre. Sad to hear of her passing. – Leon Wilks

My friends and I are very sad to hear of the passing of our favourite cinema cat, Marzipan. Every time we went to see a movie at the Astor we always looked forward to seeing and patting Marzipan. We hope she is in a better place now. – Karen

So very sad to hear of the passing of our much loved Marzipan, I will forever remember her habit of jumping on people’s laps at the most scary part of a movie – hearing the squeaks from an audience member followed by a relieved whisper “it was only Marzipan”.  Such a privilege when she chose you to grace with her presence on your lap. Thank you for sharing her with us all. Vale Marzipan.  – Michelle Hendrie

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Photo by Katherine Potter

Marzipan’s residency at the Astor always lifted my spirits, and even more so if I managed to catch sight of her as she strolled through her home.
Will miss her  greatly. – Margaret Byron

What a beautiful animal and loved by so many. I can remember my surprise and my joy the first time I saw her in the Astor lobby (a few years ago). Cat lovers ourselves, it was lovely to be able to bond with her whenever we were at the movies and we always made a point of seeking her out when we came to Astor (and a few times even coming in as we were passing, just to see her). May she rest in peace. – Ross S

Only having arrived in Melbourne ten years ago, I remember first meeting Marzipan at a screening of Lord of the rings.  As the fireworks were going off at Bibos party, she sat on my lap and let me pet her.  A Lovely moment having a cat in a lovely old cinema.  Which was rather short lived as she hissed at me when it was time to stop petting.  I then learned that moving my legs or body was not allowed and I had to remain where I was, for the next two and a half hours!  It was cold and she was warm.  I will miss her, cantankerous or not. So long. – Dean.

So much sorrow over the loss of this beloved aspect of the Astor, though made more bearable by the especially long life she achieved. Well done, Marzipan. – Pat Grainger

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Photo by Andrew Baylis

You made an already unique and incredible place that much more special, it’s going to feel so strange not playing “Find Marzipan” during intermission now. – Nick Zam

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Photo by Melanie McClure

 I have been coming to the Astor for so many years and always looked out for Marzipan because she would never run away and loved the attention. I had brought one of my friends to the Astor for a night of choc tops and flicks when she saw Marzipan. I told her that sometimes Marzipan would come into the movie and sit on people’s knees. She did not believe me until it happened to her one night. She sent me a picture of Marzipan on her knee and a message saying that at intermission she wanted to get up but Marzipan would not let her move. She may not have had a choc top that night but it’s a memory she will always have. RIP Marzipan. – Cheryl Morgan

What can I say that thousands of others haven’t already said? This truly is terribly sad news and Marzipan will be sorely missed. I always made a point of finding her after the screening to give her a quick scratch before heading home. Maybe we as FOTA members can arrange for a life-sized statue to be commissioned one day … – Chris Hiscock

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Photo by Fiona Davis

I first saw Marzipan years ago on the sofa in the foyer – I dutifully informed the box office that a cat had wandered in – and was amazed and delighted to learn she lived there. Going to the Astor  meant playing “Where’s Marzipan?” and she was always there at double bills, retrospectives, film festivals and special screenings. Hope that Marzipan enjoys her new view from (film) star studded, choc-ice heaven. – Melinda O’Connor

I first came across Marzipan by accident when walking along the footpath outside the Astor Theatre a year or so ago, whereby I & a couple of other people who where also walking past thought that she was a lost kitty or perhaps a stray, in which case we both entered the building to see if anyone knew about this tortoiseshell cat wandering outside near a very busy street only to find  that she happened to reside in the theatre, a long term resident. There were one or two accassions since that day that i had the chance to pat Marzipan as she was walking past or was sleeping on a chair in the hallway upstairs, such a novel and welcome experience added immeasurably to what is more than just a heritage listed building but is also an institution and a santuary which we could do with more of in today’s world. Sometimes the unexpected things in life can leave the greatest mark on us all, both far and wide. Pets can have the most profound effect on our lives and we are all the richer for it. I hope as Marzipan has left us that she perhaps is looking down on us on a comfy couch next to the great director upstairs as kitty cats should; and we as mere humans are touched by her existance. – Glenn

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Photo by Claire Davie

My favourite memory of Marzipan was from a visit to the Astor a couple of years ago to see Alien. I was sitting in an aisle seat in the dress circle. As the tension mounted on-screen, Marzipan appeared, walking down the aisle, and sat on a step alongside a seat on the opposite side from me. She proceeded to watch the movie for a few minutes (which she appeared to be quite enjoying) and just at a key moment of suspense when the music reached a crescendo and the alien suddenly appeared, she leapt up, straight into the lap of the poor guy in the seat alongside her! He hadn’t seen her sitting there and got a fright which meant he nearly had to be peeled off the Astor ceiling. There were numerous giggles and muffled laughs from those of us sitting nearby who had seen what had happened. I swear she did this on purpose, as her timing was perfect. She was the best ever cinema cat and will be sorely missed. – Greg Burns

Marzipan was my little friend who used to keep me company when I waited for the tram out the front of the Astor Theatre. – Lee-Anne

The Beloved Ms Marzipan. Out of all the Theatres in Melbourne, you had to walk in The Astor! There was something different about this cat, she was casual and very cool, and when she walked into the theatre she owned it, so she made it her own.
When I saw you for the first time many years ago, I was drawn to you straight away. You will be in my heart forever, and the Astor cinematic experience will never be the same without you. Here is a final Le Reow- Reow  to you my darling Marzipan.  – Desi Glaros

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Photo by Claire Davie

Marzipan was always a highlight of any visit to the Astor Theatre, whether she was watching impassively from the aisle as Jonesy the cat and Ripley almost got chomped by the Alien in Alien, or cuddling up to patrons in the foyer in the wee hours during intermission of a midnight screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. But I’ll always associate her most closely with Hitchcock: my first visit to the Astor Theatre as a cinema-obsessed teenager was to the Early Hitchcock Festival the Astor held in the mid nineties, and it was during a screening of The Birds seventeen years ago that Marzipan first deigned to sit on my lap. She also once gave the whole cinema a fright during the tension-filled climax of Rear Window when Raymond Burr is closing in on Jimmy Stewart, by nimbly running the length of the theatre’s front banister. So it seems somehow fitting that the last time I saw Marzipan was two weeks ago at a screening of that beautifully restored North by Northwest. I’m so glad I was able to pay my respects in person one final time. She will be dearly missed. – Claire Davie

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Photo by Danielle Howe

I always sought out Marzipan for a pat in the foyer and noticed the frizzle of excitment through the crowd when she would be in the cinema with us. Often looking for a lap. We were honoured with her attention twice. I had her on my lap both times – briefly – while she sought the bigger warmer lap of my husband Colin. There she snuggled up til just before the end of the film. It was like she knew when the film was over and headed out to the foyer. She was usually to be found upstairs before the film and downstairs afterwards, perched on the counter or the couch, seeing us all off. As if she was saying ‘Thanks for visiting, see you next time’. Colin suggested that it might also be, ‘Get out of my house you lot so I can have my din dins!’ But I prefer the former. – Lisa Flaherty

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Photo by Michael Graves

I loved it when I met marzipan on my first visit to the Astor. I came to see Metropolis on the big screen and I was also realy wanted to meet the famous cat that lived there. After a while of searching around (before the film) I eventualy found her and went to say hello (not aware she was deaf) I was a little starstruck but was very happy to finaly meet her. I gave her a little pat, she seemed quite happy and didn’t mind. I got a couple of photos and went to watch Metropolis a very happy person. When I came out I could not find her, oh well, my short time with her was short and sweet. I will cherish it for a long time to come. When she accepted my friend request on Facebook I was over the moon. I loved to visit her page (and still do) we even had a little conversation (not via chat, on her time line) and it was so lovely. – Meran Covolo

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Photo by Flynn Francis.
[Ed’s note – Marzi loved the camera but gee she didn’t like being picked up!]

Growing up so far away from the city, it was not easy to get to The Astor Theatre, but my friends and I managed it anyway. Films were far from ubiquitous, and the Astor was out best way to see them properly, so we would make the journey often on weekends and sometimes on school nights. We were enamoured by the cat that would be so casually sprawled across the couches, and one day dared to ask one of the staff what its name was. “Marzipan,” we were told. This was years before Facebook, and The Astor felt like our own special secret; knowing Marzipan’s name felt like a secret within that secret. From that point on, “I’m off to visit Marzipan” became code for an Astor visit, and we would see her nearly every time. We had the scratches to prove it. Thankfully — to me, anyway — she mellowed with age, and eventually expressed the fact that patting time was over by walking away instead of physical violence. My favourite memory of her was when I watched Antonioni’s Blow Up for the first time. I was completely gripped, and as the film reached its denouement in those tense final minutes, Marzipan chose to leap up onto my lap. It was the scariest, funniest, and most cinematically-enhancing thing I’d ever experienced. William Castle couldn’t have orchestrated it. Farewell, Mazipan. You will definitely be missed and remembered. – Lee Zachariah

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Photo by Jay Rottem

My last, lovely memory of Marzipan is of her selecting us to sit with during a screening of Lawrence of Arabia last year. She was truly the heart and soul of the Astor, and will live on at every screening and in all our treasured memories. – Lisa Smith

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Photo by Cam Grace

Many years ago both my daughters were attending Presentation College, Windsor. One afternoon they came home (Toorak) with a sad young cat, lost and wandering around Dandenong Road. We already had two pet cats, one three legged dog and several mice (caged)…and another mouth to feed would have been just another mouth to feed, and be loved and cared for,  we could never turn a lost animal away. I’m not sure of the details of how Marzipan came to be rescued by her rightful owner, who arrived distraught and
teary, and so grateful…and who promptly handed out many freebie tickets to the Astor. We went several times, and there she was, usually lounging around on the stairs and carpet, totally in charge of the scene. Your devotion to Marzipan is legendary, as is the puss herself.  There are not enough people left in this world who care as much as you. So vale Marzipan, hope the movies in feline heaven are as good as the Astor. – Paulette Calhoun

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Photo by Greg Strahan

Ms Marzipan, we first met when you and I were just young little
things. You welcomed us each night out with haughty grace, allowing us
into ‘your’ theatre, gave us champagne, interrupted our view of the
screen with your silhouette, and even sat on my lap once (2001: A Space
Odyssey, I’m sure you’ll remember!) Though I haven’t seen you for
many years, I’ve told your story many times, you beautiful little soul
xx – Sam Hicks

So sad to hear about Marzipan. She was a much loved part of the Astor and part of its special quality. Will be remembered fondly as a the greatest film buff cat ever. – Helen Laffin

Marzipan provided a truly unique movie going experience.  We will all miss her greatly – I’m sure there’ll never be another quite like her. – Katherine Fox

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Photo by Steven Sheeran

I’m almost thirty, and Marzipan seems to have been around almost as long as I’ve been going to the movies. I remember my parents telling me about her as a kid, and just like for everyone else, getting to see Marzipan was always a highlight of going to the Astor. One of my favourite memories of her is from a couple of years ago. I was running late for the movie, and shortly before leaving home I discovered that one of my cats had peed on my shoes. I thought I’d cleaned them thoroughly, but then half way through the film, Marzipan came over and started sniffing the tip of my shoe. She seemed to be thinking, “Who is *this*?” There is something so civilised about a cinema taking good care of a kitty. And by extension, the cinema as public meeting place involving the general public taking good care of the kitty, too. I’m so happy that Marzipan got to live a full and long life with lots of people to love her, and can only wish the same for my own cats. – Andrew Serong.

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Photo by John Raptis

One of my friends said he missed all the trains and trams home one night and had to walk back to Brunswick due to patting you too long. – Tim Chmielewski

Marzipan – you have been part of our social world but more importantly part of our hearts for many, many wonderful years. I recall with joy regularly the time you honoured me by plonking on my lap and sleeping through the evening. I am sure everyone who has visited the Astor will miss you dearly. Most fond memories!!! – Jon

I am so sad that Marzipan is no longer with us in the physical sense. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that such a tiny, beautiful creature had the power to bring so much joy to hundreds of people in 21 years, which is more than more most humans are able to do in a life time. She will live for ever in our hearts and minds. – Julianne

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Photo by Tammy Davis

I went to high school at PCW across the road and I’d get the tram home from the stop outside the Astor. Marzipan would hang out with me on the steps waiting for the tram and kept me company. She was never shy, would always sit with me and let me say hello.  Whenever I wanted someone to come to the Astor for the first time, I always told them about the choc tops and Marzipan. – Andi Pullar

Marzi was an icon and loved seeing her about the Astor going there and walking past. – Sarah

With tears welling in my eyes, I am honoured to have had the chance to have met her and had a pat or two on many occasions.Definitely the most loved cat in Melbourne. Always in our hesrts to be. – Steve

What an extraordinary life Marzipan lead. We so enjoyed her presence at the marvellous Astor theatre. We always had anticipation of seeing Marzipan and, on arrival, would look around hopefully. It was a lovely thought to know she was there somewhere. The Astor was her home and she
inhabited it with great style. Loved the photo of her on that gorgeous carpet. – Pam & Dinny

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Photo by Emily Goyder

Marzipan was the funniest cat, always appearing out of nowhere.  One minute you were sitting alone and the next minute she was at your feet or sitting next to you DEMANDING attention.  But she had to come to you………..there was never any hope of anyone but her making the first move.  You also had to keep a sharp eye out for her. I nearly sat on her once when at the last second she decided my chosen seat was for her and not me! – Robyn Carmichael

My treasured memory is from many years back when my house was being renovated, and I was between jobs so came to the St.Kilda Film Festival and sat there for two weeks in the magic of the theatre itself and the event…..And then….out of the darkness, a cat came and sat on my knee. I thought I may be dreaming, as this may have been my introduction to Marzipan. I felt utterly blessed and blissed and have never forgotten it. – Lyn Biner

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Photo by Jane Ormond

My favourite memory of Marzipan is that at key moments in a screening, usually when the hero was at the final point of life or death confrontation, the audience was hushed and completely still – no rattle of cellophane, no peep of mobiles, not a breath of movement – Marzipan would delicately begin her transit across the balcony rail.  Leisurely, measured, a casual cat saunter that inevitably drew every eye.  She would pause at mid-point, sit, maybe groom a little in an elegant way, and then resume. Forget the hero! We have Marzipan! A little murmur would run through the audience,  she’d be satisfied and exit. A blockbuster Hollywood epic, elegantly upstaged. Beautiful. Thank you for having her at Astor, and sharing her with us all.  A cat with the personality of a diva, and the heart of a lion.  – Kathleen Lloyd

One of the finest art deco buildings in Melbourne is the Astor Theatre, which has really picked a great niche for film goers, appealing to fans of cult and arthouse as well as classics. A feature of the cinema has been a calico cat, Marzipan, originally a stray who has lived at the cinema for some twenty-one years, or so the story goes. Naturally enough Marzipan was much loved by the cinema visitors, including myself, taking every opportunity to visit her (I once sneaked into the ladies powder room just for a chance to say ‘hello’).

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Arguably, the reaction is irrational. After all,
Marzipan neither knows nor cares of the response. But funerals are for the
living, and Marzipan did know that there was an enormous quantity of people who would visit her and would quietly watch flickering lights on a screen. Her death has brought that community gather in mutual recognition that she was a valued member.

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Photo by Nicolee

So it is not flowers that I shall send to the Astor, nor even a card. Rather, I shall provide something that she would have not even been aware of. It is through the anonymous and forgotten animals, far from the pampering of the developed world that I shall express my sadness and
solidarity; the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Please donate generously, in remembrance of Marzipan Astor cat. – Lev Lafayette [Ed’s note – what a lovely idea Lev, thank you]

I went to see Blues Brothers a few years ago. It was a full house. Half way though the film Marzipan walked across all the patrons and came and sat on my lap. We watched the half the film together. Marzipan as a beautiful cat with a lovely demeanor. The Astor was hers – Adam Krongold

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Photo by Josie F

My favourite and earliest memories of Marzipan are of her cheering me up on her little blue towel in the Laundromat next door.  I sometimes would have to wait at night for the 78 tram north in the freezing winter and she would cycle through all the major night-time cat activities: spacing out, sleeping, yawning, stretching and peering in my direction through the back of the chair. It warmed me up and made the wait enjoyable. I looked forward to waiting as I knew she’d be there. – Kalene Caffarella

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Photo by Richard Squires

In my life I have known of only two cinemas that had a cat. One was the Scala in Kings Cross back in the ’80s in London. The other the Astor in Melbourne. Both cinemas had excellent calendars that ended up on toilet walls as both had a fabulous eclectic range of movies on offer.

Marzipan was always a friendly character whose presence just made the place seem that much removed from the ugly impersonal multiplexes that blight our world today. Of course if you were lucky enough as I was to have a bit of lap action there was nothing finer. Even the unexpected leap onto your lap mid movie was never an annoyance, much more a bonus.

She will be missed, except when jumping on you mid horror movie! – Richard Squires

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Photo by Michelle Valenti

And God asked Marzipan are you ready to come home?

Oh, yes, quite so, replied the precious soul. And, as a cat, I am most able To decide anything for myself

Are you coming then? asked God. Soon, replied the whiskered angel but I must come slowly, for my human friends are troubled.

For you see, they need me, quite certainly. But don’t they understand? asked God That you’ll never leave them? That your souls are intertwined for all eternity? That nothing is created or destroyed? It just is … forever and ever and ever.

Eventually they will understand, Replied glorious Marzpain. For I will whisper into their hearts that I am always with them I just am … forever and ever and ever. – Jim and Jenny

I have too many memories of Marzipan to list, but one I do fondly remember is the afternoon that 2001: A Space Odyssey star Keir Dullea and Marzipan got into a wonderfully heated discussion between each other, Keir talking to her in her own tongue/language, and Marzipan continuously responding with vigor, determination and pure delight in telling Keir a number of things in her own way, and under no uncertain terms as to who was boss.
But too many times I simply remember sitting with her, just the two of us, in a chair or on the steps, having a chat or caressing her as she slept …. they are some of the nicest and most beautiful memories I will never forget.

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Photo by Rhonda Cashmore

I am sure she has gone to a lovely, comfortable place in cat heaven.  Our family always used to look for Marzipan on our many trips to the Astor and give her a friendly tickle under the chin. – Jenny Rudd

On my first visit to the Astor I did not know what to expect, especially on meeting Marzipan. I didnt even realise she belonged there. I was sitting on the couch and she slowly crept up and jumped up next to me. Did I mention that I’m afraid of cats? When she started to walk across my lap I freaked out. Luckily one of the wonderful staff members was near and he took her to
the other side of the foyer. Still, I am glad to have met her. She will be missed – Melanie

I always enjoyed seeing her smoozing the cinema crowd at interval. – Susan Bray

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Photo by Daniel Higgins

I work in Wellington Street so whenever a new calender is announced I walk down to grab one during my lunch break. It was always a joy to see her sleeping in the laundromat on her favourite chair while customers went about their business. She was such a loved part of the community and area and will be deeply missed. How many other cinemas could you be greeted on the steps by a movie-loving cat? – Daniel Higgins

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Photo by Martyn Pedler

I arrived at the Astor a few hours before Paul Thomas Anderson, and decided talking to Marzipan was the best way to mask my growing terror. After the requisite patting, she looked me up and down and seemed to think: You’ll be decent furniture, human.

Marzipan didn’t understand that I was wearing a suit (a cheap suit, sure, but a freshly dry-cleaned one) and would soon be hosting the PTA evening in front of well over a thousand fans. “I have to look classy!” I told her. “You can sit on me any other time you want!” If a cat could hmph, that’s what she did – before moving to the middle of the freshly unrolled red carpet.

 Later that night, as I checked my notes for the hundredth time and watched the enormous crowd, I looked down to see Marzipan sitting at my feet. I took her presence to mean something like this: You’re terrible furniture, human, but I’ve got your back. - Martyn Pedler

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She was so friendly when we filmed at the Astor Theatre in 2012 and we managed to take a great pic of her thanks to Peter Jensen Photography. – Britta Drevermann

Thank you for the beautiful farewell picture of Marzipan, a truly classy lady of the cinema. I sincerely hope that her spirit will live on in another cat. – Lori Whitelaw

I remember the first time I saw marzipan.. I was feeling very low and here was a confident, happy cat strutting her stuff along chapel street.. fantastic!! She made me smile.. – Natalia Serafini

Farewell Marzipan, you will be missed.
Sometimes, I turned up to the Theatre and you were readily spotable, occasionally pattable, sometimes awake – but often not. Always around.

Sometimes I turned up and you were not around and like many others, I inquired abut your health and where you were only to be told you were with X or in such and such a room. Instantly felt better knowing you were there.

I will miss you on my next visit and I will have an Ice Cream in your memory and sit on the lounge you used to sit on.

RIP Marzipan. If the Cinema Pioneers had a pet section for membership, I would sign your forms in a heartbeat. – Derek Screen

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Photo by Jack Teiwes

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Photo by Susan Carden

About five years ago I temporarily moved to Melbourne to make a start on my PhD. Having no family and few friends in the city I was naturally a bit lonely. The one upside of these digs, however, was that I lived only a short walk from the Astor, that wondrous dream-palace which I’d discovered years before and always made sure to attend at least once whenever I was visiting the city.

So during this isolated period of study, I found myself going to the Astor constantly — in part out of a desire to not be in that shared flat of an evening, but overwhelmingly due to a sheer love of the place and the great movies it gave me the opportunity to see the way they were intended. I had the luxury of finally seeing many classic films like Doctor Zhivago, Scarface, and Gone With the Wind not just for the first time, but in the best way possible, on that huge screen in that classic deco environment.

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IMAG0596Photo by Daniel Diaz
[Ed’s note – this is very naughty as Marzipan was on a very strict diet, but it does explain her occasionally being sick in the foyer…] 

Having become a regular, I noticed that there was someone else who seemed to be there all the time. A cat. At first I thought it was a rather bold stray or adventurous neighbour, but quickly came to realise that it was actually a resident, and eventually asked the staff about it. It was a she, and her name was Marzipan. She was pretty old even then, but she was a sweet little puss who never seemed too fussed by anything. She made herself at home on those corrugated green couches or could be found peering with muted curiosity down the grand stairwell at the patrons flittering hither and thither. More often than not, though, she seemed to be sleeping.

Sometimes I arrived early or lingered late when it wasn’t too crowded, and just once or twice she actually came up to me, which was rather lovely, being separated as i was from my pets in Sydney. The thing is, I’ve never been a cat person, being from more of a dog-centric family, as well as being a bit allergic, as it turned out. So while I tended to be sparing in attempting to pat, much less snuggle this venerable moggy of the movie-house, I did always try to seek her out and bid her a warm hello whenever I arrived or left, if I could find her. She was, as they say, a fixture, and as I came to love the Astor as my home-away-from-home in Melbourne, so too did I come to have a special place in my heart for dear old Marzipan.

Although I’ve visited Melbourne only a few times since I moved back to Sydney, I’ve not been down for a couple of years now, and so a while back I was delighted to discover from following the Astor that Marzipan had her own Facebook page, and I have been delighted to follow her exploits from afar. It saddens me that I’ll never get to see her again, but I’m glad to have felt that I was able to keep tabs on her during her final years, even if only online. – Jack Teiwes

Going to see Richard Attenborough’s 1977 war film A Bridge Too Far. The final shot is a wide panorama of a phalanx of war refugees, slowly moving from screen right to screen left, and silhouetted against the setting of a massive orange sun. AT PRECISELY THE MOMENT the last of the refugees reaches the centre of the screen, Marzipan decides to walk -in the same direction and at the same pace- along the balustrade at the front of the dress circle. The effect is of a silhouetted, giant cat stalking the refugees. Needless to say, it brought the house down. – Michael Graves

She had jumped on our lap just after the start of Lawrence of Arabia. We had just friended her that evening on Facebook, so she must have known!  – Simon Huggard, Lisa Smith, Kahlie and Lauren in Moorabbin.

Your Passport to Confrontation

One of contemporary cinema’s most significant and celebrated auteurs, Michael Haneke, joins a host of other greats to have multiple films grace our big screen, starting Monday with his early feature films The Seventh Continent (1989) and Benny’s Video (1992).

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Haneke, notorious for using cinema as a social and political tool, turning the lens back onto his audience, always rendering the viewer implicit in the onscreen horrors, is a director deserving of a full retrospective. However, as anyone who regularly reads our blog posts will know, not all of his films were available to us at the time of programming owing to various expired theatrical screening rights.

Ensuring we could still show a challenging and rewarding selection of his beautiful and challenging works, we are pleased to present four very special sessions across March and April leading up to our screening of his latest Academy Award winning feature, Amour (2012). A mini retrospective, this is a rare chance to immerse yourself in one this century’s greatest creative minds. It will be difficult viewing, but for those of you who make it through every single session from start to finish*, there will a reward.

mma2583-flatpackHaving seen so many of Michael Haneke’s films on the big screen is of course reward enough (!) but as an added incentive we’ll be giving extra great gifts to the most stoic amongst you. And thanks to Madman Entertainment, some of those prizes will include DVD copies of films we aren’t showing during the retrospective, including The Piano Teacher (2001) and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994).

mma2081-flatpack* Please note that in order to be eligible to win you must attend all five sessions of Michael Haneke films we are screening, from start to finish. On Monday 18th you will be issued with a passport at the ticket box if you wish to take part, please make sure you do so on Monday as we cannot give out passports after this date. Each time you arrive and depart from a Haneke session you will need to have your passport validated by one of our members of staff – either the ticket seller if in attendance or the supervisor at our candy bar. Please note that prizes will be of a limited quantity and that we cannot guarantee you will receive a prize of your choosing. The Astor Theatre reserve the right to refuse prizes to anyone who does not meet the entry requirements. 

For full season details, visit our website listings here.

Meet the Cookie Monster…

Due to the delightful change in weather (for the weekend, at least) we thought we’d match up an ice-cream in our new rotating trial of Astor Choc-Ice flavours, and what better a companion for cold weather than a COOKIE MONSTER!?!

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Yep, a new delight following the traditional model of Astor Choc-Ice sees the creamy-crunchy-licious cookies ‘n’ cream ice-cream meet a traditional crisp cone, covered in milk chocolate and dusted with coconut. It’s an absolute monster of a mouthful and we recommend you try one before that blue guy gets wind of it and eats them all!

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Not Quite Right(s)

If you’ve ever wondered why we haven’t screened a digital DCP of Blade Runner (1982) since the installation of our awesome 4K digital projector, then Wednesday’s late change in programming is probably a really good departure point for a bit of chat about those necessary and sometimes prickly things called theatrical screening rights.

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Though we talk about this often, it’s so important we think it’s worth re-stating; we would love to just pick the films we want to screen and programme those (and yes, before you ask, the first thing we would show would be the original Star Wars Trilogy!) Unfortunately, and beyond whether or not there is an available format to screen from (70mm, 35mm, 4K or 2DCP, digital et al), there must be valid theatrical screening rights for us and indeed any cinema, society or organiser of a public screening to show a film.

Theatrical rights will usually have a termed option (most often five years) and then, once those rights expire it’s a matter for legal negotiation between rights holders and potential distributors as to whether or not they wish to renew. If not the doors are open for another party to try to obtain the rights, which come at multi-thousand (sometimes in the tens of thousand) dollar prices. Even after rights are purchased, the producer always gets around 50% of rentals earned. As you would expect with anything involving legal contracts, this can take considerable time and money to confirm. This is also why a film might have theatrical rights one year and then no longer have them the next. Returning briefly to Blade Runner, this is why we last screened it in 35mm in 2010 and since have been unable to screen it.

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This is also the reason why we were so excited to finally be able to screen Labyrinth (1986)and soon The NeverEnding Story (1984) – Astor proprietor George Florence has been looking into rights for NES for around nine years and now, thanks to Park Circus, acting on our tip, now representing the film, we can finally screen it. And yes, we do still have our fingers crossed for The Dark Crystal (1982).

But back to Wednesday and why we had such a late change to our programming. Of course at the time of printing our calendar (both current and upcoming) we were unaware that the rights for Apocalypse Now: Redux might expire before our scheduled screenings. Once notified that the screening rights had expired and as such our screenings could not go ahead we had two concerns: 1) an expectant audience who ought to be able to trust our calendar and come see the films we’ve scheduled and advertised, and 2) the fate for the incredibly rare and stunning 35mm Technicolor IB film print [Ed’s note: the technology that created this stunning film print no longer exists, so even IF someone wanted to, another print COULD NOT be made.]. Often what happens when rights expire is that film prints are junked (destroyed) but thankfully we can assure everyone that the Apocalypse Now: Redux print is safe and being held until new rights can be negotiated.

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Even though we began the process of trying to sort out an agreement in time to let us at least be able to honour the screenings already booked, we received late notice Wednesday afternoon that the process could not be approved until the request was officially signed off on by the rights owners. Although we have made inroads and do both hope and believe we will have confirmed something in time for the June 12th screening later this year, we were unable at the last minute to receive the approval we thought we would be granted to screen Wednesday night.

We want you to know that it wasn’t for lack of trying that the screening of Apocalypse was replaced by Django Unchained (2012). We also want you to know that we’ll keep working on it from now until however long it takes to get the film back up on our big screen. Apocalypse Now: Redux has been an Astor staple for years and every calendar has a space for it. One of the most significant reasons for this is due to the rarity of the print, made with a now past process that, as mentioned, can never be replicated. But, even as much as we love the print, and admire the incredible technical process to create it, without an audience the print is just a physical object in a box. For Coppola’s vision and the Technicolor frames to mean anything, they need to be seen by an audience in the original intended theatrical environment. It is our undertaking to bring what we consider to be the most sensational viewing experiences to the big screen. Apocalypse Now: Redux is one of them and we fully intend to keep it on our calendars.

Written by Tara Judah for the Astor Theatre.

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