Secret Cinema: What Films Should They Do?
Posted on Monday September 6, 2010, 17:51 by Nick de Semlyen in Empire States
On Friday night, I had my second Secret Cinema experience. The first had been the Blade Runner event in June, which took place in a huge warehouse near Canary Wharf re-decorated to evoke Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece. There were tattooed strippers writhing around a seedy mini-club, giant neon screens everywhere, street vendors draped in (real) snakes, Asian men selling noodles and a climax that involved actors dressed like Deckard and Batty duelling on wires next to the big screen on which the same action was unfolding. To put it simply, it was the closest you could get to LA circa 2019 without dropping a lot of acid. And ridiculous quantities of fun.
Announced in advance, the dress code for this latest venture — “Bedouin” — made it easier than usual to guess the film: Lawrence Of Arabia (okay, it could been another Omar Sharif starrer, Hidalgo, but that would have been a leftfield choice). And the choice of the 1962 desert epic allowed for an extremely ambitious set-up. The entirety of Alexandra Palace was taken over and given a sandy make-over, with real camels and horse-mounted soldiers outside on the lawns entertaining the 5,000 visitors (divided into tribes) and controlling the flow into the building, earnest-looking soldiers working typewriters in the entry passage, and a gigantic bazaar erected inside, complete with haggling Arabs, vendors selling lamb and other themed food, plus a big sand pit to play in.
The best thing about Secret Cinema is the fact it gets Londoners to let their guard down, uniting over a shared love of cinema and silliness. It’s easy to make conversation with complete strangers when dressed in Middle Eastern clobber, or even a full-on camel costume, which this writer foolishly donned (it gets hot in there; I can now see why they’re so grumpy all the time).
A few niggles, though. Unlike the Blade Runner night, there was a lot of queuing involved at various points, probably due to the increased scale of the event. It had also lost much of the sense of intimacy. And the choice of film itself may have been a misstep. Lawrence Of Arabia is over three and a half hours long, meaning it had already started when we finally got into the hall. It’s also a shame to have to spend most of a night you’ve paid nearly £30 for watching the film when there’s so much going on around the building. And while David Lean’s film is indisputably a classic, dare we say it might be a bit slow and serious for this type of night – even Blade Runner invited audience participation, cheering and laughter, whereas there was mostly sombre silence for Lawrence.
So here are a few ideas for Secret Cinema nights. Let us know what you’d like to see them do in the space below…
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
The whole thing could centre around a mysterious dig, with creepy caves, patrolling Gestapo agents, and, of course, bugs and snakes up the wazoo. Dress code: fedoras and leather. This would be the greatest night in the history of the world.
Ticket-holders join frazzled soldiers to board a rickety boat that heads down-river. At the destination, there are dancing Playboy Bunnies, heads on sticks, ranting maniacs locked in cages and surprise attacks from the Vietcong. This would be the second greatest night in the history of the world.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY
The perfect Western to theme a night around. You’d don a poncho, glue on some stubble and then roam around a faux town, complete with scuzzy saloon, brothel and wind-ravaged cemetery. Dynamite not included.
A rock n roll extravaganza, where you’d be able to test drive vintage deuce coups, enjoy a live feed from Wolfman Jack’s radio show, and watch the film in a specially erected drive-in theatre.
Five words: coathangers and cups of tea.
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Posted on Monday September 6, 2010, 18:56
Seven Samurai - 16th century japan setting, Kimono's a go-go, sushi and rice vendors, professional sword fighters and bonkers Toshiro Mifune impersonators bouncing around everywhere.
Predator - Strict "grubby commando" dress-code, jungle themed decor with real plant-life and monkeys, dudes dressed as predators permanently sneaking up on people, stalls selling chewing tobacco, shoot-em-up arcade games and (most important) the screen must set amidst a giant plywood helicopter. This way when the movie starts a booming Arnie voice commands you to "GET TO THE CHOPPAH!"
Posted on Monday September 6, 2010, 22:27
I went on Saturday. It was my first secret cimena experience.
I liked it overall. But there were a load of people there. Too many? Hmmm.
I'd love Raiders! Predator sounds bloody good too.
Posted on Tuesday September 7, 2010, 10:21
... that'd be a night worth forgetting.
Posted on Tuesday September 7, 2010, 12:17
Posted on Tuesday September 7, 2010, 13:44
I venture Carpenter's "The Thing" could be fun.
Posted on Tuesday September 7, 2010, 14:48
Ha, the Thing would be awesome..
Back to the Future.. you can dress either 1950's or 1980's.
Posted on Tuesday September 7, 2010, 15:50
I've been saying this since last Christmas, when the film was Bugsy Malone (awesome night, but I wasn't bothered about the film), but the next Christmas one should be...
Hire out an office block, dress it up like Nakatomi (or at least the interior of) - then make like it's the Christmas party from the beginning of the film, perfect excuse for the audience to suit up!
The party would carry on as that party would, and you'd have actors roleplaying as Holly, Ellis, Takagi and the rest of the Nakatomi staff, McClane would turn up and then about ten minutes later Gruber would walk in, do a bit of bad guy schtick and end up forcing all the hostages (the audience) to watch the film.
How would that not be awesome?? Imagine walking in and seeing that model of the bridge! I defy anyone to tell me that if they walked in and saw that they WOULDN'T start quoting "And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer. Benefits of a classical education."
Come on, Secret Cinema - make it happen!
Posted on Tuesday September 7, 2010, 17:36
Oooh... fun one - Akira.
Thisk about it, you could dress up as the soldiers, any one of the biker gangs, even Number 26 if you're getting your Benjamin Button on...
The whole place could be done out in post-apocalyptic neons and orange, bike stunts on one side, Japanese drummers on the other, before finally being led to the screen by a chanting mystic (falling to your death off a bridge optional).
Posted on Tuesday September 7, 2010, 20:19
Dawn of the dead.
All have to come as zombies and the film is shown in a forest.
Posted on Tuesday September 7, 2010, 23:09
I personally would love to see The Big Lebowski (the dress code doesn't need explaining, surely?) with the cinema made up to look like a bowling alley. When you buy your drinks however, if you're one of the first twenty people to shout at the barman "MARK IT ZERO!" once he's told you how much your round costs, you get free drinks all night. Strike. If you tell someone to "SHUT THE FUCK UP!", you'll get a slap in the face, though. Manners cost nothing.
If that doesn't work, wizzer54's idea for a Dawn Of The Dead theme gets my vote.
Posted on Thursday September 9, 2010, 20:32
I'm throwing my vote in for sowasred2012's Die Hard idea. You could have a greeter at the door who politely says "welcome to the party pal"; and long wooden tables which you have to be seated at by a waiter, purely for the reason that when the tables are full the waiter, with a thick German accent, can proclaim to you "No more table!"
Posted on Tuesday September 14, 2010, 16:48
I was there as well, pretty disappointed overall. The attention to detail was impressive, but as a film to watch? Not a fun evening. Loving the suggestions here though.
Predator - yes. Hell yes. I would have to get some chewing tobacco, though. 'Cause it'll make me a sexual tyrannosaurus.
Die Hard - super awesome.
Raiders - Would've been way better than Lawrence of Arabia - you could even have used the same Set.
Akira would be great too, but it's a little similar to Bladerunner to ever actually get done.
Fight Club? Breakfast Club? Anything else with the word 'club'? In it?
Also Top Gun. Flight suits? Navy whites? Volleyball games all around? Sweet.