Culture Quiz: The Capitol

Culture Quiz: The Capitol

To launch RMIT Culture’s weekly CQ, we are taking a trip south down Swanston St and exploring the many wonderful aspects of one of our proudest and most beautiful accomplishments – RMIT’s glorious Capitol theatre.

To get you in the right mindset, here are some general facts about one of Melbourne’s greatest cultural spaces.

Considered to be the first large picture palace in Victoria, The Capitol was built in 1924 and was designed by one of architecture’s power couples Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. Purchased in 1999, RMIT used the space as a lecture theatre before making the decision to close the space in its 90th year to restore the building to its former glory. We may be slightly biased, but we think they’ve done an amazing job.


1. Let’s look up for a moment to appreciate one of the theatre’s most astonishing features. Approximately how many lights illuminated The Capitol’s ceiling in its original form?

A photo of The Capitols ceiling lit up with coloured lights

Approximately 4000. The globes were originally in red, yellow, blue and green and were used in conjunction with other filmic elements to add drama and atmosphere to the viewers experience. Now, these lights are LED and fill more of the colour spectrum, although the dramatic atmosphere still remains.

2. With the event tagline 'A long weekend for fashion victims and film fetishists', which 2018 film was screened in September in partnership with The Capitol?

In Fabric directed by Peter Strickland. The Hollywood Reporter labelled this film as “a methodical, malevolent piece of cinematic couture” – that’s a pretty enticing review. The Capitol took this screening online on the 12th of September, along with a Q&A with the director, Peter Strickland, and acclaimed film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. This is just one of the many amazing online events The Capitol has contributed to since it’s unfortunate closure earlier in the year. We can’t wait to get back in the theatre for more live events!

3. This one is a little shameless plug… Which renowned architect was once quoted as saying The Capitol is ‘the best cinema that was ever built or is ever likely to be built’?

Robin Boyd – quoted in The Australian on December 24th, 1965


4. With the global COVID crisis taking a large hit on the film industry, which film festival cleverly dubbed this year their 68 ½ run?

Melbourne International Film Festival. The Capitol has proudly partnered with MIFF for many years and hosts a significant amount of screenings during its yearly run. Although 2020 was slightly different, the festival was still a huge success from the comfort of the viewers home. Head here for a Take 2 chat with Kate Fitzpatrick, one of MIFF’s talented programmers.

5. Which architecture company supported the refurbishment of The Capitol?

A black and white illustration of The Capitol's salon level

Six Degrees. RMIT enlisted the help of local Melbourne firm Six Degrees in 2014 until its reopening five years later. They did an amazing job restoring the building to modern standards and technical capabilities, while still maintaining the original elements that contribute to its charm. You can check out an amazing interview here featuring two of the architects, as well as other Capitol fans.


6. Which Melbourne Queer Film Festival director was the first guest on The Capitol’s online Take 2 series?


A black and white illustration of a pair of hands holding an open clap board that says 'Take 2'

Spiro Econopolous. Take 2 was launched by The Capitol on its social media platforms as a way to promote the arts by people in the know and to foster a sense of community in this difficult time. Experts and friends across many creative industry’s lend their recommendations of films to watch that are able to be accessed online, from the comfort of the viewers own home. By the way, Econopolous, who is the program director for Melbourne Queer Film Festival, recommended Sid & Judy (2019) and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972). Give them a watch!


7. In August, The Capitol partnered up with Prototype with three visual artists to discuss recent projects of theirs. In some way, each of these projects were connected to three places across the globe – what were these places?

A photo of The Capitol's ceiling lit up in shades of candy pink

Sarawak, Borneo. Quizhuang, China. Gotland, Sweden. As read on Capitol.Tv, episode one looks at Sari Braithwaite’s Quizhuang (2020), which explores the topics of art’s purpose, cultural cross-pollination and cultural colonisation. Episode two explores Tiyan Baker’s 2020 film Tarun, which focuses on Baker’s trip to her mother’s birthplace in Sarawak and her exploration of her cultural heritage. Lastly, in episode three, Sam Smith’s Lithic Coda (2020) is the focus. The piece boasts beauty and etherealism, all while filmed upon the volcanic island of Gotland.


8. Which Oscar winning film was reviewed by RMIT students for a chance to win tickets to a screening at The Capitol and a six-month subscription to DocPlay?

Boon Joon Ho’s Parasite (2019). This film made waves across the world and to celebrate it’s glory, students had a bit of fun reviewing the masterpiece in 20 seconds or less. You can stream the film on Stan or buy/rent on iTunes. Head here for a megamix of the students reviews.


20 April 2020


20 April 2020


  • PEG
aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer