Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

The 10 Best things about Secret Cinema’s Back To The Future

1.jpg
5.jpg
10.jpg
bonus.jpg

If you measured our excitement ahead of Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future opening night extravaganza, you'd have read it in jiggawatts.

After all, shifting north of 100,000 tickets for a month-long run at a secret spot in East London where visitors are fully immersed in the world of Hill Valley, it’s arguably the boldest and most audacious pop-up cinema ever staged.

Fans of Robert Zemeckis’s 1985 cult hit have been in a near state of frenzy for a good while now. Proof of which came on the back of some unfortunate axing of originally planned dates, leading to social media meltdowns akin to the manic episodes of Doc Brown.

Thankfully, the revised first night came off without a hitch, giving us everything we wanted and more. Here are the stand out parts of our experience...

Warning: Spoilers lay ahead, obviously, so if you don’t want to ruin the surprise then look away now…

AND BE SURE TO READ 20 THINGS YOU (PROBABLY) DON'T KNOW ABOUT BACK TO THE FUTURE BY CLICKING HERE

___________________________________________________________

THE CLOCK TOWER

Such is the size of the clock tower, it's even visible from back of the heaving lines which snake their way around the far edges of the site, making us feel as if we were stood in a queue for a ride at Universal Studios. It didn't disappoint up close, either. Everything in the show revolves around this impressively huge and uncannily built set piece, and if you're wondering why the middle part is left bare - that's where the film is projected onto. Genius.

___________________________________________________________

THE AUTOMOBILES

After walking through Peabody’s goat-infested farm, where we handed in our phones (a smooth process after the show, surprisingly), then up and across a walkway into the town of Hill Valley, our first mini-teleportation back into the ‘50s came via a number of classic muscle cars and classic Cadillac vehicles roaring their way around, some even inviting attendees in for a spin.

___________________________________________________________

ENCHANTMENT UNDER THE SEA DANCE

Yes, the Holy Grail for film fans. You can get to this by walking into the high school, which has one of the most impressive exterior set designs of all, and where you’ll feel like you’ve waltzed straight onto the set once inside. The colours were there, the stage was set, the music was pumping and, flouting the high school’s anti booze policy, cocktails were even served.

___________________________________________________________

THE TOWN SQUARE

Where we’re going, we don’t need cushions – or at least not the massive blow-up ones. As unlike other notable outdoor cinema screenings, long instigators of backside numbness and spinal spasms on hard floors, we found the artificial grassy patch here - perched front of the clock tower - as comfortable as it was sizable, which, coupled with the film’s relatively short running time, made for a snug watch. Another bonus about the town square is that you’ll still have characters running amok to immerse you in the film some more -although trying to tell hipster from actor can be tough.

___________________________________________________________

THE ACTION SET PIECES

Not that you’ll be sitting down much, of course - a good bulk of the major set pieces you see on screen are replicated by actors at the exact same time, eliciting various hollers and whoops from whatever section of the crowd the cast are placed near, which, on our visit, was so exceptionally orchestrated we were looking around for Zemeckis himself at one point.

___________________________________________________________

THE SHOPS

The Hill Valley shops based on those in the film and strewn around the town square are more than window dressing. You can buy records, go to the bank (it’s a smartly obscured cash machine), or go and have a meal in Lou’s Diner. You can even clamber aboard a workable Ferris wheel, which, by way of a tip, is the best place to watch some of the live action before the film starts.

___________________________________________________________

MARVIN BERRY AND THE STARLIGHTERS

You know the songs: Earth Angel, Johnny B Goode a few years too early? Well it turns out that you needn’t go into the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance to hear these – the band plays right before the show at the foot of the clock tower. Few ignored the temptation to get up and sway to some of those classic hits by the band on opening night, with sound excellent, uniforms spot-on and notes perfect.

___________________________________________________________

THE FOOD AND DRINK

As you’d expect from ‘50s America, you’re not going to be short on diner food. The many food stands boasted a rampant selection of pulled pork, hot dogs and other classic food perfect for watching a movie with, while ice cold US beer and wine (whatever that is) can also be purchased. Depending how comfortable you are at role-playing – you’re a US citizen in 1955 remember? – be prepared to hear plenty of faux American accents as you hand over your British tender. Wait, we mean dollars, obviously.

___________________________________________________________

THE DELOREAN

There were no surprises at which vehicle generated the biggest cheer of the night, arriving in a plume of smoke and flurry of high beam flashes. Not only was the DeLorean sleek, shiny and still futuristic even in 2014, watching it race around the town square at a considerable rate was enough to make us feel like kids again.

___________________________________________________________

THE ATMOSPHERE

Curmudgeons be damned – the audience’s collective energy was enough to charge a flux capacitor on itself. At least 95 per cent dressed as if they’d come straight from another era (confusingly, the guy in front of us was all ‘90s, but we’ll let him off), making for one heck of a spectacle as you tried to distinguish overly keen hipster ticket holder with enthusiastic actor.

___________________________________________________________

Secret Cinema Presents Back To The Future runs until 31 August; Secretcinema.org

[Images: Hanson Leatherby, AI Overdrive, Will Cooper, Laura Little]

Related

oyd-michael-j-fox-sab4669.jpg

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Back To The Future

615x330-bttf.jpg

Back To The Future musical imminent

BTTF-hero-2.jpg

VIDEO: Back to the Future goes silent

bttfh.png

20 pieces of wisdom from The Back To The Future Trilogy

BTTF2.jpg

14 Back to the Future posters

bttf1.jpg

Incredible Back To The Future Remix

Comments

More

The ShortList Alternative Oscars

The only awards that really matter

by Gary Ogden
20 Feb 2017

Is Love Actually actually shit or brilliant?

Two writers argue their case for the divisive 2003 rom-com

16 Feb 2017

The totally excellent 19 facts you never knew about Wayne’s World

No way? Way.

by Keyan Milanian
16 Feb 2017

Details of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser trailer 'leaked'

If it's true, Star Wars fans are in for a treat

14 Feb 2017

The best dressed men from the 2017 EE BAFTAs

As sartorially sharp as Stephen Fry's wit

13 Feb 2017

Ken Loach delivered a rousing anti Tory speech at the BAFTAs

The veteran filmmaker criticised the “callous brutality” of Theresa May's government

by Joe Ellison
13 Feb 2017

The 7 best titles new to UK Netflix this week

Get these on your tellybox

10 Feb 2017

Watch John Wick's dog take its revenge in this hilarious viral parody

How the tables have turned

10 Feb 2017

Michael Keaton opens his heart: "Relationships are complicated"

ShortList talks love with the mercurial actor

by Ralph Jones
09 Feb 2017

People are freaking out about how scary this film trailer is

Watch it with the lights on

by Gary Ogden
09 Feb 2017