event hori­zon

4 June- 27 Septem­ber 2015, a top se­cret lo­ca­tion in Lon­don

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents -

So how was the latest Se­cret Cin­ema ex­trav­a­ganza?

Jor­dan Far­ley jour­neys to a gal­axy far, far away for the latest Se­cret Cin­ema ex­trav­a­ganza

Af­ter wow­ing crowds with a re­mark­able recre­ation of Hill Val­ley c1955 for last year’s open air Back To The Fu­ture screen­ings, Se­cret Cin­ema had a tough task ahead if they hoped to top their most elab­o­rate pro­duc­tion yet. With Star Wars: The Em­pire Strikes Back they’ve been ( mostly) suc­cess­ful.

We’ll avoid a spoiler splurge as much as pos­si­ble, be­cause half the joy of Se­cret Cin­ema is that you don’t know what’s in store. It’s im­por­tant to note, how­ever, that the more you put in, the more you’ll get back. Ev­ery at­tendee is as­signed a fac­tion and a char­ac­ter. I was Kaz­dan Krell of the Cre­ative Coun­cil. Oth­ers could be starfight­ers, mer­ce­nar­ies, gover­nors or galac­tic ex­plor­ers, each with their own loosely de­fined cos­tumes. No one’s go­ing to turn you away if you rock up in civvies, but it goes against the spirit of the evening; even if, ul­ti­mately, your fac­tion doesn’t mat­ter. Ev­ery­one is sim­ply a mem­ber of Re­belX – a rogue al­liance lo­cated on Earth who soon make their es­cape to an iconic Star Wars lo­cale...

The live- ac­tion el­e­ment is es­sen­tially a trip through A New Hope, with two key lo­ca­tions recre­ated in im­pres­sive de­tail. The first is full of mar­ket stalls ( top tip: eat here!) and dusty build­ings, and is pop­u­lated by ac­tors who never break char­ac­ter. In­ter­act­ing with the cast is key to se­cur­ing pas­sage to the next area. We found this the most en­joy­able as­pect of the whole evening as you use your ac­cu­mu­lated knowl­edge to gain al­lies, bust fel­low trav­ellers out of prison or bar­gain your way into the most no­to­ri­ous bar in the gal­axy. You’re left en­tirely to your own de­vices to work out what to do next, which might frus­trate any­one seek­ing a more pas­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. Make sure you ar­rive early, be­cause as there’s so much to see and do it’s very easy to miss things.

The sec­ond ma­jor area is less suc­cess­ful in terms of in­ter­ac­tion, but has a show- stop­ping cli­max that left us grin­ning like loons ( Must. Not. Spoil.) and leads straight into the screen­ing. In com­par­i­son to ev­ery­thing that comes be­fore it, how­ever, the ac­tual pre­sen­ta­tion of The Em­pire Strikes Back feels like an anti- cli­max. Whereas BTTF was full of in­cred­i­ble, crowd- pleas­ing live- ac­tion el­e­ments, The Em­pire Strikes Back’s the­atri­cal el­e­ments are thor­oughly un­der­whelm­ing, amount­ing to sparse ap­pear­ances by cos­tumed ac­tors recre­at­ing odd bits of ac­tion here and there. The big prob­lem is that in­stead of pre­sent­ing the film on one screen for the as­sem­bled masses here there are four si­mul­ta­ne­ous show­ings, which left our au­di­ence oddly muted and sparse, ru­in­ing the at­mos­phere. On the up­side: ac­tual seats!

The real ques­tion is: does it jus­tify the ex­pense? At £ 78 each tick­ets aren’t cheap, and that’s be­fore you’ve in­vested in ( op­tional) cos­tumes, fac­tion scarves, props and pricey food and drink on site. But there’s a good rea­son why tick­ets cost that much – the scale and show­man­ship is awe- in­spir­ing and won’t be for­got­ten in a hurry. For Star Wars fans it’s a dream night out. Im­pres­sive. Most im­pres­sive. www.se­cretcin­ema.org

You’re left to your own de­vices to work out what to do next

You would not be­lieve what she’s look­ing at! Hold on, you say, there were no Jawas in Em­pire!

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