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!).
Last night, Future Cinema triumphantly emerged once again at The Troxy in East London for a live screening of Ghostbusters. If you’re not familiar with Secret or Future Cinema, they transform the location into a location from the film (this case being the Sedgewick Hotel) and have actors perform live events around it. After the Ghostbusters car pulls up outside whilst we’re queueing, we finally get inside of the “hotel lobby” to be greeted by Janine, who quizzes us on any paranormal activity that we’ve seen. We finish the questioning and then enter the main auditorium where we bump into Winston Zeddmore, Walter Peck (receiving boos from the crowd as the villain of the evening) and Louis Tully (who offers to do our accounts!).
The Troxy itself was a great venue. It has that retro feel and versatility that could be used for countless different films. Around the room before the event there is the obligatory bar, Ghostbusters paranormal testing area (!) plus somewhere to grab a hot dog and a twinkie! When the screening time came around, Janine took to the stage to announce a ghost sighting. The lights come down, and the screen comes up. During the screening actors simultaneously perform iconic points from the film, such as getting their first call (“We got one!”), catching Slimer (“We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!”) and Louis Tully being chased by the Gozer demon (“Let me in!”). Towards the finale and to the audience’s raucous applause, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man even made an appearance! These segments were the highlight of the evening, as the majority of the room would have seen the film already, but this almost interactive element gave the film so much more attention.
All in all, an amazing evening and cinema experience. We’ll be keeping a close eye on any updates for Future Cinema’s next event.
Secret Cinema – have you heard all about it? Whilst some of us may have, there is probably a narrow percentage of those who actually know what it is! I’ve witnessed the crowds marching previously through Wapping to the now abandoned Tobacco Dock, and not even twitter came to the rescue to explain exactly what was going on (“Sshhh. It’s Secret Cinema time.”) But the premise; buy your tickets online for a specific date and time (around the £35 mark), turn up at a London location that isn’t disclosed to you until a couple of weeks before the event, and dress accordingly to the cryptic emails received periodically.
Even up until we were whisked away from Barbican station through a deserted Smithfield’s market, via a Russian checkpoint upon entry, and finally into the underground planked walkways of the abandoned Farmiloe & Sons glass merchant building in Clerkenwell, we had no idea what to expect. Once we were released into a post-WW2 Vienna and we were able to explore the cafes, bars, music, food stalls and interesting characters. We were kidnapped a couple more times by some Gestapo-like actors in character from the film. I’ll mention at this point that nobody still had definitive knowledge of what film we would be watching. It created a unique buzz, as it made each one of us detectives to try and deduct from each hint around the setting what the chosen film was.
The lights went down, air raid sirens rang and the room filled lightly with smoke. Then a silhouette appeared of a man carrying balloons. He marched off down the alley and was inhaled by the smoke. We all followed. When we reached the other side we were seated in one of the warehouses. Then the opening titles rolled of Carol Reed’s The Third Man.