Mitchel Waite © 2022

Secret Cinema Presents… Back To The Future

Back To The Future, to me, is undoubtedly one of the best trilogies to come out of Hollywood. It has comedy, action, an eccentric scientist, time travel disruption, and car sounds effects that anyone would want in their Renault Clio. On Amazon I saw an in car flux capacitor that lights up when plugged in to the cigarette lighter, and I needed it (immediately skipped over “wanted it”). As a kid I had white Nike’s with a red swoosh because they were a character as much as the DeLorean. Ultimately it’s a film that captures its time, and it still holds up in 2014. So when Secret Cinema announced summer performances of the Back To The Future (part I), I had to try and find myself a new pair of Nikes….

Right from the outset, this sounded more ambitious than prior Secret or Future Cinema events. I previously attended ‘Secret Cinema presents The Third Man’ in Barbican and ‘Future Cinema presents Ghostbusters’ at The Troxy. So I wasn’t really shocked by the opening week cancellations. I suspected this to be down to ticking the right boxes for health & safety sign-off, being in the Olympic Park grounds at Stratford and all.

This was more akin to the Future Cinema events, as you knew what film you were purchasing a ticket for. There were none of the cryptic email clues of Secret Cinema, which is really good fun during the build up. But, there has to be trade offs if you are paying £55 a ticket. Prior to the day itself I checked out the Hill Valley Store in Shoreditch, and you could buy a complete 1950s outfit there and have your hair styled too. I bought a £10 T-shirt and a pair of 3D glasses instead! (hey, I already had the Converse, rolled up jeans and leather jacket). On the day, I have to say we did go in too early. We passed through the queue at Peabody Farm in under 10 minutes, and after that we were walking up through the empty Hill Valley ‘burbs. It had an eery abandoned theme park feeling to it. None the less, within the hour, the head count quadrupled and Hill Valley was a bustling town. A gas station, travel agent, TV store, high school and of course, a bar. The film screen was in front of the clock tower centre piece, and everyone congregated on the grass in front of it to watch the film. Actors in character were working the crowds, and we had the pleasure of being labelled ‘slackers’ by Mr. Strickland.

Come performance time, the atmosphere in the crowd was booming. The screening was accompanied by actors playing out key scenes. There were cheers when the DeLorean screeched through town, Marty scaled over Biff’s car and George McFly’s punch. The highlight was Doc Brown zip-lining from the top of the clock tower in the final act.

Overall I absolutely enjoyed it. It’s a crowd of people that actually want to be there and have an equal appreciation for the film. No distractions from talking or texting, the simultaneous live performances immerse you so much it felt like watching it again for the first time. Even on the journey home, the grin was still sprawled across my face. Then the next day, the Part II and III DVDs were fired up! The only disappointment was the quality of the disposable cameras that were on sale (so most of it will stay a secret!).

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