Another year, another Secret Cinema takes place at a [redacted] London location, fellow film enthusiasts donning their best costumes for a night of festivities. Whereas these events were once truely intimate affairs, they have grown exponentially over the last decade, leading to some hits (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Back to the Future) and the occasional dud (28 Days Later).
That dud, which took place last year, was the last Secret Cinema I attended. It was, frankly, a disaster that left my wallet bone-dry and a bitter, bloody aftertaste in my mouth. It was with some trepidation I attended their screening of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!, the Oscar-nominated film starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. Alas, on I travelled to [redacted], took part in [redacted], and drank [redacted].
First, the note I received from Secret Cinema regarding what I can and can’t discuss here: Please don't reveal any details of the show… but describe the feeling of it all from your perspective and that of the wider audience. With that in mind, I apologise for the lack of precise details and growing amounts of [redacted] mentions.
So, let’s talk about feelings. First, I felt anxious. Everyone else was dressed to the nines, wearing all varieties of corsets, elaborate suits, and suspenders. These weren’t the actors, but the participants. They looked phenomenal. I, on the other hand, only found out I was attending the day before and had therefore quickly thrown together a shirt/jacket combination.
Underdressed (which wasn’t an issue in the end) I entered Montmartre’s infamous cabaret house. Walking through black curtains into the recreation of 1900’s Paris was an almost overwhelming experience; a sensory overload as the incredible looking audience interacted with [redacted], drank a lot of [redacted] and watched performers doing [redacted].
During the [redacted] hours before the film began, there was so much to do and see. Feelings update: excited. Being in Paris’s underbelly, though, definitely lends itself to drinking alcohol, which unfortunately costs an awful lot.
Yes, despite the anti-Brexit, anti-Trump, and pro-Refugee themes flowing throughout the Moulin Rouge, it’s ironically all on the pricey side. Feelings update after handing over £18 for two cocktails: sad.
But, was it worth it? Yes. Without spoiling too much, when the film eventually started there were lots of emotions flying through the air. The screening (if you can call it that) was, miraculously, a truly uplifting experience. The crowd was fully on board, having a great time. I was having a great time (and overly enjoyed making snide Obi-Wan/Renton jokes about Ewan McGregor). Even my empty wallet was feeling (almost) validated. The only issue was not being as well versed in the film’s songs as everyone else in attendance. This, of course, was all helped by Moulin Rouge! being a brilliant film. Feelings update: overjoyed.
Plus, when the main event was over, Groove Armada (one of the numerous guests who has played Secret Cinema events, alongside Jarvis Cocker and the Noisettes) popped out for a DJ set, spinning some classic records (and not just the film’s soundtrack). It was basically a pristinely dressed late-night party where - continuing the film’s theme - love was all around.
After the event finished, getting the tube back through London was a huge downer. I didn’t want to leave Paris or those short-kept friends. The Moulin Rouge offered a welcome rest from Brexit. From Trump. From this tirelessly messy and turbulent world we all live in. That was the point, as made clear by [redacted]. It was a liberal’s dream. If only it was slightly cheaper.
Secret Cinema's Moulin Rouge takes place in a [redacted] London location until 30 April.
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