In the last few years there has been a huge increase in film screenings that have moved away from traditional high street cinemas and huge multiplexes.
One of the pioneers of which have been Secret Cinema, with their revolutionary new twist, creating an interactive theatre based on classic films, leading you into film screenings. Such is the level of detail, it takes months of planning with the screenings running for around a month.
In comparison we have another new adventure in film, with backing from VW. The See Film Differently Campaign.
There have come up with a new idea. A truly great idea. To put on exclusive one-off screenings of iconic films in the location that they were originally filmed.
They first began with a screening of American Werewolf in London at London Zoo, last October. The location David Kessler wakes up after his first night of subconscious werewolf activity. The series continued with Get Carter held at Newcastle Racecourse, followed closely by Trainspotting and Attack The Block.
The next event in the series was the timeless Kubrick classic, A Clockwork Orange. Taking place on 2nd June at Brunel University.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, it is one of the greatest films to have ever been filmed in the UK. Still widely celebrated and immensely popular all these years later. A far cry from when it was released and swiftly withdrawn by the request of Kubrick himself (in the UK only). The decision had followed death threats to his family and accusations that he had corroded the moral fibre of England with his depiction of ultraviolence. Looking back now it’s hard to see what all the fuss was about.
Had the director been anyone else except Kubrick this would have never been allowed. However, Warner Bros were prepared to bow to Kubrick’s personal wishes as they knew that keeping him happy and on their books was far more important than the revenue of one film in the UK. Many people still believe it was actually banned and the furore surrounding the film has only added to its appeal.
After first watching the film on a badly copied, and re-copied VHS tape as a teenager, the opportunity to see one of my favourites films in this setting was incredible. Although having it seen it many times since – this was a truly unique and inspiring way to watch it.
The setting was Lecture Theatre E at Brunel University, Middlesex. This was the very place that Alex was to undergo the Ludovico Technique. Probably the films most famous scene. Alex is strapped into a straight jacket, with his eyes fixed open, whilst being subjected to watch videos of ultraviolence. Simmering underneath his exterior pain, the dark effects of the medication serum 114.
On arrival at the University you began to recognise some of the building exteriors that were used in other scenes in the film. In total there were 5 scenes filmed at Brunel. Possibly chosen at they match the look of the rest of buildings filmed in Thamesmead, South East London.
1 – Lecture Theatre E: The Ludovico Technique Scene
2 – John Crank Building: The Ludovico Reception Desk
3 – Tower D (Ground Floor): Alex’s Apartment, Municipal Flat Block 18A
4 – Chepstow Hall (Rooms H33-H37): The Hospital Room where the serum is administered
5 – The Exterior: Ludovico Facility
On arrival the jubilant crowd were treated to drinks, popcorn and snacks – as any good cinema showing demands.
On taking our seats, i was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of the original Anthony Burgess novel was also being handed out. A nice touch. Many who have seen the film will not have read the book, which is well worth doing.
After the introduction from the VW team, we were treated to a personalised message from Malcolm McDowell. The lights dimmed and Malcolm came onto the screen saying “This is it, this is where the famous scene was filmed. I hope you enjoy it more than i did.” This was a real treat – showing that VW had actually thought about it and they hadn’t just shown up on the day with a projector.
The film itself needs no review.
If i was to be critical of the experience, i would have two complaints.
The first that the seating was very uncomfortable! it is a lecture theatre after all and no doubt designed that way to stop all the students from falling asleep during boring lectures. In their defence, the organisers had added a little padded cushion to each seat… but this was not about comfort, it was about capturing people’s imagination with an insight into their favourite films, and it delivered.
The second being that the ambient light itself was not great, there was light coming in from the doors, lack of curtains and lit up fire exit signs, so the quality of the image on screen was a little washed out.
But to be honest who cares? Possibly only the late Kubrick himself. He reportedly used to visit the cinemas, that were showing his films, on their release to measure the quality of light that was hitting the screen.
After the film had finished, a special guest was welcomed to the stage, Jan Harlan. Jan worked closely with Kubrick for many years as Producer, and on a personal note was his brother in law. So very qualified to be fielding questions.
He gave some fascinating insights an stories about A Clockwork Orange and Kubrick. One of his anecdotes was regarding 2001: A Space Odyssey. When Jan was making a documentary he wished to use the music Also Zach Zarathustra, the famous classical piece from the beginning of the film. Normally record companies would charge a considerable fee for this but when Jan requested it, they laughed and stated they had made so much money from Kubrick using it, he could license the track for £1.
After the screening and the Q&A, the crowd dissipated into the make shift Korova Milk Bar downstairs. It was a decent effort but by no means was it like walking into the set from the film.
The walls were covered with exclusive imagery, screen shots and memorabilia from the film. On loan from The University of the Arts, London – which is the permanent home of the Kubrick Archives.
A great night was had by all. An excellent concept and delivered with style. Sign yourselves up now for the See Film Differently updates as i’m sure that this series will grow and grow.
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