For almost seventy years, this majestic building will be a favorite cultural monument of the local population.
This cinema was built by the city architect André Guyon. According to legend, it would have been built in just seventy days. In Art Deco style, it has a hall that can accommodate up to a thousand spectators. In his book (1), Gilles Rago notes that “on the scale of a small town, André Guyon created show equipment worthy of the great Parisian scenes and the enthusiasm of the golden age of cinema.”
For almost seventy years, this majestic building will be a favorite cultural monument of the local population. In addition to classic film screenings, Eden also hosted a large number of music hall shows. The oldest ones remember how they applauded Guy Beard, Serge Lamay, Herve Vilar, Jean Ferrat, Tino Rossi, Les Compagnons de la Chanson, Riquet Zarai, Pierre Bachelet…
Until the early 1960s, the presence of the American army at the nearby Fontenette camp ensured good attendance at the hall on Den Boulevard. “I remember the jeeps with these soldiers who came to the concerts of the famous Tichadel tours. [NDLR : avec des femmes dénudées] “Recalls a ten-year-old resident of Anji. Then Eden is at the peak of its development. Jean-Francois Blanc bought the establishment in 1964. This Bigurdan will become the embodiment of Eden for a long time.
Warm, local Mr. Cinema will protect “his” Eden until his retirement in the early 2000s, and customers of the institution keep fond memories of him. “I used to call the cinema to tell him that my wife and I were going to go to the screening … He then answered: okay, I’ll be waiting for you to start the show! Imagine such a scene in a multiplex, it’s unthinkable,” says Laurent, a man in his fifties from Angérien.
“When the pediment of Eden collapsed, part of my boyhood fell”
The famous radio and TV presenter Bruno Guyon also entertained himself in this mythical room. “I saw my first film there with my mother, it was supposed to be Lucky Luke. There I saw “Star Wars”, there I had to kiss the first kisses of a girl. Bruno Guyon, unrelated to the architect of Eden, was marked by a fire in 2014. “When the pediment of Eden collapsed, part of my adolescence fell,” the owner revealed in our columns. In Saint-Jean-d’Angely, everyone has a memory of Eden. Cyril Chappé, deputy mayor for culture, recalls that he “missed an important handball match to attend the screening of the film “Gendarmes et gendarmes” with Louis de Funès. Since I was afraid of being exposed, I watched the tape hidden on the balcony of the room…”
In the 1980s, Jean-Francois Blanc did the main work at Eden. The unique and huge hall was then divided into four smaller ones. The owner thought that this would increase attendance at the establishment. Fatal error. Clients became less and less. Jean-Francois Blanc would then hand over the keys to Eden to the association and eventually sell the cinema to the city in 2004. The various municipalities will show no real interest in this building, however remarkable it may be, whose façade and bar were inscribed on the Supplementary List of Historic Monuments in 1984.
Abandoned and never rid of old films and many posters, Eden will be left fallow, and then completely destroyed by fire during a fire in May 2014. The barely elected Françoise Mesnard, the new mayor, promised to restore the new Eden to the same location. This is how an association of enthusiasts was born, led by local philanthropist Christian Keroua, who made a great contribution to the revival of this place. Rebuilt in four years in an Art Deco style, New Eden opened in September 2018. Today it has again become an integral part of local cultural life. Currently, the site hosts only live performances. According to elected officials, it would be too difficult to make a cinema that would also be a concert hall. The Renovation Eden consists of a large auditorium with a seating capacity of 326 and a “bistro”, a more intimate space with a capacity of 80 spectators. Since its opening, it has hosted many concerts. Recently, Thomas Fersen, Sanseverino, Ben Mazue, Aldelaf, La Grande Sophie and Stefan Eicher have performed here.
The Angérienne Hall also offers, through the Block House association, contemporary music shows and, with the support of the Violon sur le sable de Royan team, classical music concerts. And moviegoers with all this? Rest assured they are not forgotten. Since December, the three-screen cinema Cinévals has been opened on the Place Champs-de-Foires.