Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

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Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Review


Secret Cinema's Star Wars event is a mind-blowing experience of a lifetime for any Star Wars fan. Running in London over 100 nights from June 4th to September 27th, it's more than twice as big as last summer's gigantic Back to the Future project. The epic installation lets visitors live events from Episode IV: A New Hope before an interactive screening of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the best of the six films to date. And with a cast of 400 performers merging seamlessly into the costumed audience, it's an unforgettable evening.

It begins with an evacuation, as earth-based rebels are called to a secret London location. Before arriving, we are given an identity and wardrobe advice (I was Niles Torwyn, galactic explorer) and told to stay low and keep our faces covered. At Earth Cargo Airlines, we are herded into a loading bay and transported through space to Mos Eisley spaceport on the desert planet Tatooine, where we have several hours to walk around the bustling market town, paying for food and drink with galactic credits while engaging with the people around us. Speaking to strangers or walking into doorways will result in quests and training exercises. And among the crowd, there's a chance to interact with characters like Old Ben Kenobi, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2 and a gang of fast-talking Jawas, but avoid eye contact with the Storm Troopers. There are also special cocktails and music in the busy Cantina Bar before another transport whisks us off to a Rebel Base and the Death Star itself.

Along the way, virtually the entire final act of A New Hope is taking place around us, often in ways that send chills down the spine. It's a thrilling re-creation of a film that transformed our childhood, and there are at least two "wow" moments that are almost overwhelming. This is followed by the next chapter in the story, a bright digital screening of The Empire Strikes Back accompanied by some very cool live action. Originally released in 1980, the film stands up remarkably well with its sarcastic humour, brittle emotions and some very dark drama, leading to a wonderfully maddening cliffhanger ending. Best of all is the way the script remains centred on the characters, twisting and deepening them while allowing Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher to further develop their most iconic roles.

Secret Cinema makes up for the film's unresolved conclusion by throwing a huge party afterwards, as audiences dance in the Death Star to the beats of celebrity DJs. From start to finish, this six-hour experience is more than worth the rather pricey £78 ($120) ticket. The attention to detail at every level is impressive, as are the inventive production elements. Frankly, it's so all-consuming that even those who have never seen a Star Wars movie will enjoy it, if only for the chance to dress up and live a fantasy.

Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back runs in London until 27th September 2015. Two hints: (1) arrive early and explore Mos Eisley thoroughly, entering any open door and talking to people around you and (2) go up the spaceport stairs no later than 8pm.

Watch the trailer for the original Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back



Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

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Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

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