The wonder of Secret Cinema returns to enchant East London.
The dense, smoky atmosphere of downtown dystopian L.A. has suddenly appeared in London’s East End bringing the world of blade runners and replicants to vivid life for Blade Runner fans. Now celebrating their tenth year, and with each show seemingly getting bigger than the last, Secret Cinema have opened their doors to Utopia, staging Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: The Final Cut from March until July this year.
The journey begins a couple of weeks before arrival when ticket holders are provided with assumed identities and a list of suggested items to check off as part of the online registration process. Secret Cinema demands participation at some level which turns the screening of an old classic into an immersive experience, drawing cineastes into the fabric of a world that has captivated them for years.
How far each person goes is left up to the individual, although you are encouraged to completely disappear into character if your budget permits. Second hand clothes shops will be no doubt be doing a roaring trade in the next few months as retro trench coats, see-through plastic raincoats, transparent umbrellas and face glitter fly out the door. Visitors all have access to the main areas of the show, although there are one or two hidden perks that are found within each of the three price brackets.
Upon arrival blade runners from the LAPD hustle you through the World Terminus check-in, asking everyone to seal their mobiles inside small self-containing bags. One or two people do sneak a few photos once inside but in doing so they only serve to undermine the hard work done by the Secret Cinema team. Security for the event stand by dressed in futuristic LAPD garb and they do a fine job of taking care of everyone for the night. Elsewhere, scavengers sell their scrap metal and battered hardware, shouting over the low rumbling noise coming from the nearby entrance to Utopia which beckons people into the bowels of the warehouse.
The intensity of the smoke-filled, neon-lit streets that characterise the film greets you upon arrival, complete with large LED advertising screens and seedy, low-hanging red lanterns. With each passing production the design team continue to raise their game to new levels of unexpected artistry, and it’s yet another reminder of why tickets continue to sell out so quickly whenever a new event is announced.
Passing through the crowded streets, the thick atmosphere is heightened further by a combination of aromas emanating from a diverse range of tightly bunched food stalls. Everywhere you look there are rooms to be investigated, each filled with character actors eager to pull you into their story. Hiding behind your Britishness is no excuse to avoid getting involved and it’s the perfect chance to throw off the shackles and jump headlong into this cinematic theatre.
All the while the tall menacing figure of Roy Batty looms through the crowd, with Deckard and Rachael never too far behind. Another reason people return time and again is to investigate every hidden corner of the site. Yet, as clichéd as it may sound, everyone has their own memories to take away, which is what makes the night so special. You lose all concept of time at a Secret Cinema event and it’s nigh on impossible to cover everything in one visit, but rather than lessen the experience, it only sets the imagination whirring once the journey home begins.
The level of ticket purchased for the event will dictate which of the two screening areas visitors sit in while the film is played. An immersive lighting system sets the tone to complement the gorgeous onscreen aesthetics of the moody neo-noir film, while key scenes are played out by the actors mouthing the dialogue and mimicking the movements in and around the metal framework surrounding the giant screens.
In terms of price, tickets start range from £45 to £115, which compares favourably to a West End theatre show, concert or major sporting event in London. When you factor in the 5-6 hours spent in the venue it represents pretty good value for money for a night like no other in the capital.
Once the night is done and it’s time to return to the cold, hard world outside, real life quickly begins to pale in comparison. That’s why everything had to be documented in this review because I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…. but all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.
For more information on Secret Cinema presents Blade Runner – The Final Cut: A Secret Live Experience, check out the Secret Cinema website.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum