I believe I promised I’d tell you what happened on the Isle of Dogs, didn’t I? Well, it all started on Monday, when I received a call from the Friend-For-Whom-I-Have-Not-Yet-Thought-Up-A-Humorous-Pseudonym (who previously appeared in this blog in the entry https://londonparticulars.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/strictly-come-stumbling/) inviting me to an event whose nature was not fully explained. I was told that the dress code was Cyberpunk, Indian, Arabian, Chinese or Forties Futuristic. I would also need goggles. I decided that with just over 24 hours’ notice, Forties Futuristic would be my best bet.
I borrowed a pair of goggles from The Bro and obtained a pair of gas masks from Surplus Plus in Fitzrovia, and after some brief experimentation, came up with the ensemble seen left. I discovered that the event was actually something called Secret Cinema – we would be taken to see a film, but not told which one. The dress code was the only real clue we’d get.
She-Without-Pseudonym (she suggested Krang, so we’ll go with that for now) went with a rather impressive 40s/cyberpunk look, featuring a lot of fluorescent orange and a quite astonishing hairdo. Apparently people were unwilling to sit next to her on the train. To be honest, I find that weirding people out is half the fun of a costumed event. We met our fellow freaks at Canary Wharf and were directed to queue up for our shuttle (or bus) to the “off-world colonies.” We speculated as to the possible films it could be – favourite suggestions based on the costumes were Blade Runner, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and The Fifth Element.
Once on board the shuttle, we were instructed to close the curtains (or “shields” as they were termed) so as not to reveal where we were going. However, en route, we were informed that we were to be dropped off in a “holding area.” So we got off the bus, finding ourselves in a rather industrial-looking area.
Unfortunately, I’m completely lame when it comes to surprises. You see those cranes on the top right of that picture? They’re just opposite South Quay. I’d also worked out that the film was going to be Blade Runner, due to an earlier mention of “Voigt-Kampf tests.” Fans of the film will recall that this was the empathy test used by Harrison Ford to determine whether a person was human or not. This was completely awesome, as Blade Runner is my second-favourite film of all time (the first is Withnail and I, if you were wondering).
Krang had not previously seen this film, so I suspect a few elements of what came after may have been lost on her. For you see, upon stepping into the “holding area,” we found ourselves in a very impressive recreation of 2019 Los Angeles, as seen in the film.
Several of the locations had been recreated, including the eye laboratory, the Chinese takeout, the strip club and the artificial fish stand. In addition, there were actors representing various characters from the film, and other performers helping to recreate the world. I briefly found myself with a snake upon my shoulders for complicated reasons. Those things are heavy, you know? They don’t look it, but they really are.
Actually, on the left you can see me with the snake. If I look a little uncomfortable, that’s probably because HOLY CRAP THERE IS A SNAKE ON ME. The woman handling the snake described this as my “Britney moment,” so obviously she hasn’t heard about the time I shaved my head and married a guy for two days.
There were various real stalls including, inevitably, Cyberdog and a vintage clothing place. Krang regretted not purchasing an umbrella with an illuminated handle, as seen in the film.
Now, as I said, I love Blade Runner. It is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the best science fiction films ever made. Visually spectacular, beautifully written and directed with some excellent performances. Most importantly, it’s a film that makes you think between wowing you with visuals.
Seeing it on the big screen, I must admit, was a new one for me. So I was rather impressed. The version screened was the Final Cut (there have been about four or five different versions of the film – and you thought George Lucas was bad at making his mind up). This doesn’t differ hugely from the Director’s Cut, although there were a few interesting additions. I might have to dedicate an entry to this film, in fact.
One very impressive touch (SPOILER ALERT) was the live recreation of the film’s climactic battle between Deckard and Roy, achieved using a combination of projected scenery and actors. Unfortunately, the shot I got was not fantastic.
After this nerdgasm, it was time to leave. The choice of locale for the screening becomes more obvious by night, when the Docklands skyscrapers are lit up – indeed, it would be hard to think of a more appropriate location in London, given the industrial grime down below and the neon spectacle above.
All in all, a superb event and definitely one worth returning to. Indeed, Krang did so herself later in the week.
In the meantime, what am I going to do with this gas mask?
http://www.secretcinema.org/ – The Secret Cinema website.