Review: Secret Cinema Presents Back to the Future
15:50 22 August 2014
It didn’t get off to the best start, with the first week of shows cancelled and angry fans taking to social media in their droves to vent their frustrations.
Although they were never given a clear reason for the delay, the sheer scale of this latest immersive cinematic journey nestled in a built-up urban east London enclave goes some way to explain how organisers may have come unstuck.
But it’s this sheer ambition which makes Back to the Future the best offering Secret Cinema has come up with since it started out 10 years ago, and allows it to emerge from the backlash bolder, more imaginative and stronger than ever.
Set in a secret location, a ten-minute walk from the meeting point, fans – who are all given characters before the event – are transported back to the 1950s at the annual fair of Hill Valley, the town in which the 1985 blockbuster that made Michael J Fox a household name is set.
After being forced to hand over any phones or cameras, a farmyard menagerie greeted us at the entrance, before we explored quirky cabins belonging to Doc and Marty’s downtrodden dad George – you can even hitch a ride in one of the glistening vintage cars cruising around the site.
There’s discoveries to be made at every turn, such as the diner – in which Marty sees his dad getting bullied by school jock Biff – where you’ll find juicy burgers and a selection of alcoholic, and non-alcoholic, shakes.
Then there’s the actual cinema showing 1950s films, or the fun fair with vintage rides such as a Ferris wheel and hook-a-duck stall, but the stand out highlight for us was the Hill Valley High School.
Lockers adorned with teenage graffiti and pictures of heartthrobs line the entrance corridor which gives way to a school hall with a live band belting out 1950s classics and suitably dressed-up disco lovers dancing the twist and jitterbug. Actors are dotted around the venue mingling with the crowd before launching into impromtu dance routines.
This was all before the main event – the film, which was projected onto a hugely realistic mock up of the iconic Hill Valley clock tower featured in the film, with scenes, such Marty going back in time in Doc’s car, brought to life by actors in front of the crowd.
The only thing that stops you momentarily forgetting you’re not back in the 1950s is the high-rise buildings and a well-known high street store in the backdrop.
Of course, many people complain the ticket price which is in excess of £50 is too much “to watch a film”. But it’s so much more than that – these events are like mini festivals celebrating the magic of cinema.