Dickie, ladies and gentlemen.
Well as Dickie Attenborough said, I can't believe either that this is actually happening, after what seems a very long time indeed of gestation. The whole thing has been rather like an elephantine pregnancy. But the result, I am sure, even though I haven't seen it yet and am invited to open it without viewing it, I am sure it will be an enormous success and indeed provide a great deal of interest and excitement for a large number of people who clearly derive immense pleasure and satisfaction and, to a certain extent escape, from the kind of world which this museum is emphasising.
I do think though that it has been a quite extraordinary feat to have got this museum off the ground in the face of an extraordinary number of obstacles and difficulties. Apart from anything else, to raise the money almost entirely from the private sector is a major feat in itself. And I think those who have spent an enormous amount of their time and effort in this area deserve all our thanks and congratulations, and in particular Anthony Smith who I know has done an enormous amount in that area to stimulate the funds necessary. And also, as Dickie Attenborough said, so much is due to Mr Leslie Hardcastle for his again quite extraordinary determination and also his particular enthusiasm and his willingness never to take 'no' for an answer. The Museum of the Moving Image has been his dream for the last 20 years; so far as he's concerned I am sure today is a very special one indeed and we owe him, I think, a particular debt of gratitude.
We were extremely fortunate also that two such enthusiastic patrons of the arts as Sir YK Pao from Hong Kong and Mr Paul Getty should have decided to give such remarkably generous support to the museum right from the word go. Paul Getty of course, who sadly is not here today, is a very considerable authority himself on the cinema and so his involvement I think was as a result partly of that fascination that he has for the cinema and everything to do with it. So another huge debt of gratitude is owed to them and indeed to all those whose faith and generosity have gone into this project from the start.
Now the contents of the museum represent a very considerable technical and design feat and I am sure that it will meet Sam Goldwyn's requirements for a good film, that it should "begin with an earthquake and then work its way up to a climax"! Anyway, I am sure all of you will be able to decide for yourselves shortly.
Now despite, as I said earlier, having not viewed the exhibits as yet, I am told that one of the most exciting features of this museum is that we are all encouraged to be less passive than is usual with museums. And I remember only too well as a child being taken to a gallery in London and I've always felt that it is terribly important, particularly with sculptures, to touch them because I think the tactile element of such works of art is a very important feature. I know it's difficult sometimes because many of them might disappear eventually but I remember going up to one and touching it and a man in a uniform came up and said, "Take your hands off that!", and I am sure that this more active involvement with the actual exhibits, which I think is a feature more frequently nowadays in museums, is a very good thing.
But when Noel Coward was asked, for instance, was asked what he liked to watch on television he responded by saying apparently, I hope it's not apocryphal; "Good heavens," he said, "television is something you appear on, you don't watch!" I know exactly what he meant...!
But the opening of this museum comes at a time of - I hope it's true to say, I think it is probably - greater optimism in an industry that has experienced its fair share of bad times as well as good in recent years. Cinema has, on the whole, been reviving in this country in the last decade and a new wave, if that is the right expression, of creative film-makers has come into existence. And this new vitality, I think, springs largely from the growth of television and the recognition throughout the world of the very high quality, in many cases, of what we produce in the United Kingdom.
Now having said that, a museum of this kind draws our attention to what happened in the past and to the kind of standards which used to exist throughout the film-making profession. And it is not difficult to draw comparisons and to ask a few basic questions on an occasion like this why, for instance, do we have to tolerate the incessant menu of utterly gratuitous violence on both cinema and television, but especially television and most particularly video? Those of us with children are really concerned by the appalling lack of restraint shown by some of those who make such films and videos and who defend their so-called 'art' by insisting on the absolute necessity of portraying real life. They say that all you have to do if you don't like it is to switch the television off.
If, as parents, you complain that the diet of freely available insensate violence is very likely to have an influence on the way some people behave and how they relate to other people then you are told there is absolutely no proof that violence on television or on videos has any effect on people's behaviour. But this, as many of us know, is palpable nonsense. It is the trick used by the so-called experts to confuse us and to make us feel that we don't know what we're talking about and what we are seeing with our own eyes is merely an illusion. But it is not an illusion and it is high time that someone told these self-appointed experts that, rather like the Emperor's set of new clothes, they aren't actually wearing anything at all. I suspect a great many people up and down this country are deeply concerned by, for example, the type of videos on sale and as we all know available to children who can't realistically be prevented from obtaining them.
So many people, I suspect, fell utterly powerless to alter this situation so I hope that this museum, whilst entertaining and educating those who visit it, will at the same time help to show people just how far good taste has been diminished during the course of the past 20 years.
Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to declare this museum open."