Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Secret Cinema presents...

It is now safe to tell you about an exciting mission that took me and two friends deep into the shady heart of 1940s Vienna...

‘Psst! Do you want to go to a secret cinema?’

This was the tantalising question that arrived with a ‘ping’ into my Inbox last November. I quickly tapped a resounding and enthusiastic ‘YES!’ and hit send, only later thinking to ask ‘what actually is a secret cinema?’ A few discreet enquiries revealed that it's the brainchild of a specialist event company who take great delight in creating a theatrical spectacle based around a cult classic film. Clues are sent in a series of mysterious email communications and half the fun is trying to guess what you're going to see.

We were given this dress code...

A rogue-ish dress code

…and were told to meet a man carrying balloons outside Barbican tube station. It was all incredibly exciting. We booked into the Powder Room in Soho for some vintage hairstyling, ready to play our part as 'Rogues'. Already some subterfuge was going on as my long hair was very cunningly disguised into a bob.

A quick bite to eat at Leon in Soho
We met our contact and soon were being hurried along the dark streets by uniformed officials shouting ‘schnell’, creating bafflement in modern onlookers. Our destination was the shadowed entrance to a former ‘lead and glass’ warehouse in Clerkenwell. Practically everyone had adhered to the dress code, and this styling, combined with subtle smoke and clever lighting, helped create the illusion that we had turned back the clock, had suspended time.

Checking ID at the entrance to the International Zone

This feeling became more apparent as we entered the yard. Everywhere we looked was perfect – the money exchange swapping our sterling into Austrian schillings, the decorative bars in all their faded glory, the secretive gambling club upstairs, the spivs trying to barter watches and nylons. Every new arrival brought a book to leave behind – later to be swapped or given to charity - resulting in a heaped table filled with treasure.

Posters tying the film with the era

The money exchange

A higgledy piggledy pile of books

Clever lighting helped set the mood for film noir
The audience were part of the play – unrehearsed but just as key. Our greatest compliment came when we asked someone to take our picture. ‘But I thought you were actors!’ he said. Vintage mischief managed!

Me, no doubt transfixed by the wandering balloon seller

Lovely friend S

Lovely friend M, one of the bloggers behind To Happy Vegans
In what must have been a feat of unseen project management, little groups were gathered and rushed away to be shown secrets and illusion, helping to create the atmosphere of suspense. We whispered passwords and were ushered behind the bar, down echoing stone steps into a smoky long cellar. Here we played follow the leader through a strange underworld - scurrying across planks of wood bridging water, ducking through tunnels - were we chasing or being chased?

The motif of the evening was the man in a trilby hat – he lurked in the shadows; he appeared in the smoke. Occasionally you’d look up and there he was...

The man with the trilby hat
You may have guessed the film by now. It was The Third Man. And it was the best cinematic experience of my life!

Take a look at the short clip below to find out more...





Read M's write up at To Happy Vegans
Read more about Secret Cinema

Thanks to M for some of the pictures included on this blog post

21 comments:

Francesca said...

Wow, real vintage! I wish we had a Powder Room here in Rome, my daughter has been looking to get a vintage hairstyle but can't find a decent hairstylist here who can do a vintage hairdo. Following you from Rome but I am actually Sicilian.

Old Kitty said...

I am totally speechless!!

What a fantastic idea - what a super duper event!!

And don't you all look the part!??! How fantastic!! Yay!!

Oh I can hear the zither music already!!

Take care
x

Maggie May said...

That all went from cloak and dagger to a really wonderful time!
Love the photos.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Laura Marcella said...

This is so awesome! How fun. You are your friends looked fabulous!

Melody said...

This is incredible! It looks so REAL! I would love to do something like this sometime! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like great fun! At first I thought you were going to a test screening (my brother went to one - it sounded exciting enough). You have such a knack with description - very atmospheric. I'd love to read your book! And I'm quite jealous of all these amazing adventures you seem to have. :)

Debbie said...

Great post. What an experience you had.

wannabe a writer said...

What an exciting life you lead! I would love to have been there. I would also love to try out some vintage hairstyles but don't think there is anything close the the Powder Room up here!

Out on the prairie said...

very nice to be part of, I would love to part of all of this

Shirley Wells said...

Wow, what an amazing experience. I love the way you all look the part too. Very convincing!

The Golden Eagle said...

It sounds like it was amazing! :)

Rebecca Bradley said...

It sounds absolutely amazing! I would have loved to have attended something like that. The photographs are stunning and you really do look great in that look.

Brilliant! and thank you for sharing.

Happy Frog and I said...

Such a fantastic experience and I am deeply envious! I love your photos and you look amazing. As you know The Third Man is one of my favourite films and I am so pleased that you enjoyed the whole experience.

Deniz Bevan said...

Oh my, this sounds so amazing and wonderful, from the dressing up, to the mystery, to the books... I wonder if we have anything like that in Montreal?

the cuby poet said...

Wow! Intrigue all the way. What a great evening. Good photos too. Nice to have found you.

lbdiamond said...

AWESOME!!!!

Talli Roland said...

Wow, fantastic! And you look amazing! Looks like so much fun.

Jitendra Gupta said...

I randomly stopped on your blog, and I am glad after reading your fabulous story;;
really it was amazing and so nice;;

Lord_Kiwii said...

It looks really great and sounds like fun!

Dolly said...

Wow, amazing! How fantastic Jayne I am quite envious! How I miss London and the incredible diversity of things to do! You look absolutely beautiful in your vintage look, and your friends too.

Your descriptive writing is just perfect, as always, and I can just picture the whole thing!

Emma Lauren said...

That sounds so cool! Oh, I wish I lived in an area that did such things.