Secret Cinema presents Back To The Future review: Great Scott, I’ve gone back to 1955!
Secret Cinema events usually stays off-radar, fulfilling the ‘secret’ element to the title. Since it was first started 10 years ago by founder Fabien Riggall, it has hosted immersive experiences and screenings of classic films such as Shawshank Redemption, Grease and Casablanca. However, with the announcement two months ago that Secret Cinema were going to host the biggest live cinema event in the UK, it brought the company to a whole new level of publicity. I have long wanted to go to SC event, but have been waiting for the right film. When I found out they were presenting my favourite film Back To The Future, I knew I had to go. Admittedly, SC did experience some negative press in the run-up, with ticket problems and having cancelled the initial week of screenings, Thursday’s launch in East London easily proved the doubters wrong.
In the run up to Secret Cinema’s launch of ‘Secret Hill Valley’, my friends and I were each assigned our own characters. I was a student at Hill Valley High School, where the movie’s characters of Marty, Lorraine, George and Biff all went to school in the either ’50s or ’80s. We were given a list of props to bring to round out our character, such as sunglasses, a family photo and homework. Although SC’s BTTF screenings had been in the national press, the premise is to keep as many details secret as possible so not to ruin the experience for subsequent visitors. In my review, I’ll only give away what has been covered in the national press and the photos included so I don’t ruin the many surprises of the evening.
The dress code is 1955, so my friends and I all gathered at an East London train station dressed in petticoats, crisp white shirts with high ponytails and gelled back hairstyles armed with cushions (to sit on during the screening) and our various props. At the entrance, we handed in our cameras and phones to try to preserve the secrecy of Hill Valley. Although my friends and I kept reaching for our phones when spotting great photo opportunities, we soon got used to not having them, which gave us the freedom to truly immerse ourselves in the experience. Anyway, no one had mobile phones in 1955, so that would have spoiled the look.
Just like our hero Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) did in the movie, we walked through the country lanes approaching the town of Hill Valley, past the houses of some of the famous residents, such as the Baines, McFly and Tannen families. SC has recreated Courthouse Square with great detail, full of the familiar shops and businesses from the movie, such as Lou’s Café, Roy’s Records and the Hill Valley Telegraph. The town was also full of residents (played by actors), many familiar from the film, such as bully Biff Tannen cruising the square looking for trouble with his gang of cronies. Admittedly there were a lot of queues for the eating establishments, but with a couple of thousand people in attendance, this was inevitable. Visitors had 3 hours to enjoy the sights and sounds of Secret Hill Valley before the main event – the film’s screening – took place. This is where is helps to bring a cushion or blanket so you can park yourself on the grassy square of Hill Valley and watch the action on the big screen of the Courthouse – complete with its clock frozen in time at 10.04pm when it was struck by lightning. Following the screening, there is a chance to rock your socks off at the Enchantment Under The Sea dance in the High School, where George and Lorraine finally kissed for the first time in the movie, ensuring Marty’s existence ahead in 1985.
Tickets for the event are £53 which does sound steep – but this is more than a film screening. When you enter the life-sized town that SC have created and the large cast helping to transport you back to 1955, you soon realise why the pricing is such. However, all five people in my group of friends who attended and myself all agreed we would happily pay to return – it was such a brilliant experience.
- Secret Cinema Presents Back to the Future runs until 31 August 2014 and tickets are available for dates from 14-31 August via Secret Cinema’s official site.
For a review of Secret Cinema’s screening of The Great Dictator, click here.