Ernest Gregl

Feb 23, 1934 - Sep 1, 2021(87)

First encounter with a cinema projector

He was even more surprised why the sun was sending all that force of sounds, images and movements into the small cinema in Gradisca...

There was a lot of light in the life of Ernest Gregl, but only a few rays of light marked the course of his life. The first, but fateful one, cut through the gloom in the era immediately before the start of the war. Ernest was six years old then. The mother took her four children - a blond curious boy and his three sisters - to the cinema for the first time. That experience was magical for them. The children carefully watched the change of black and white pictures on the white canvas. They marveled at the curls of elegant men with side combs. The little boy watched the unusual sight with admiration. The only concern that bothered him at that moment was the question of where all those unknown people who tirelessly dance in front of him came from. The scene mesmerized him, and his blue eyes on the screen searched for a hidden passage through which the foreign guests sneaked into the hall.

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His gaze stopped at the beam of light that cut through the darkness of the movie theater directly above his head. At that moment he thought that a tile had fallen. Amazed, he looked around wondering why no one was bothered by the hole through which the sun sends its greetings. But then he remembered the dark clouds and concluded that it was unusual for the light to be so strong. He turned again, squinted, and realized that the light was not coming from the roof, but from a small window at the back of the room. Stunned, he wondered why the sun was hiding behind the wall. It was even more strange to him why the sun was sending all that force of sounds, images and movements into the small cinema in Gradisca. These questions tormented him until his return visit to the cinema in Novigrad. Then, encouraged by his mother, he knocked on the door of the projection booth. To his surprise, the door was not opened by the sun but by a smiling man with a narrow face and a long beard. Seeing the spinning of a noisy machine in a narrow cabin, he learned what a cinema projector was. After this incident, although he was too young to understand all the complexities of film production, he realized that he too wanted to become an artist.

Thus, in 1957, Gregl graduated from the School of Cinematography in Zagreb and that same year began his career as a cartoonist at Zagreb Film. During the time of the former state, he worked as a cinematographer and special effects master (trick master) for Jadran film and Kinoteka, and he continued his commitment to the Croatian film industry as a freelance film worker on numerous feature, documentary and animated films. Due to his contribution to the restoration of Croatian film heritage, he is called "the only true Croatian film restorer".

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