Those warm summer evenings are back and there are a plethora of outdoor cinemas in London at the moment – the most notorious of them all is the Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House. This year they were showing a range of films like Indiana Jones, Lawless & Apocalypse Now. For this round I picked probably the most hardcore of the film series – Enter The Void, Gaspar Noé’s first feature length film since he made headlines with Irreversible followed up by Don’t Think a film of Chemical Brothers live audio visual concert which was filmed in Japan
As we descended into Somerset House the weather was perfect, there is a sense of awe as you walk into that 18th century courtyard, seeing the sea of people completely covering the place, blankets, picnic baskets and drink a plenty, the sounds of the DJ pumping out beats from 7 until the movie started when darkness descended at 9. The atmosphere in there was pretty electric, events like this are cinema2 – its been taken out of the box and becomes a new way to experience film without being far removed from the experience of going to the cinema – I had seen Enter The Void quite a few times perviously (both at home and in the cinema) and watching it at Somerset House was something new. The first thing that gets you other than the sheer number of people in the venue is that range of people at the event to one side of me were this middle aged married couple that had a full on picnic basket that looked like it had been completely sourced from Waitrose with strawberries and champagne and to my left were a group for friends with florescent paint on their faces and drinking Red Stripe. As darkness slowly fell I was hoping for more dancing to the DJ, but for the most part everyone was sat down talking (although later in the evening the I was not disappointed). The announcement of the film about to start at 9pm was met by cheers from the entire audience as well as praise for the DJ for the last 2 hours, and Enter The Void was introduced by Film4’s director, he spoke about how much of a head fuck the movie is, how it is cinema reimagined and it being a new way of experiencing and presenting film to the audience. He also gave a little warning that like Irreversible its not the easiest of films to watch. He mentioned how he had spoken to Gaspar Noé prior to the screening and that his only hope was that they played the film loud – and loud it was!!! The sound system set up was like that of a concert – Somerset House has the advantage of a) not having any residents nearby and b) being the fortress like courtyard it is, sound doesn’t really travel outside
From its initial super fast, strobe like intro credits the crowd realised they were in for something different. The movie is long unflinching journey into the metaphysical set in Tokyo. It’s truly is an example of a director being an artist and painting on a celluloid canvas, it switches the brain to another level and the movie is experienced rather than watched. It is not an easy watch either and probably not for everyone. Its the story of Oscar a drug dealer in Japan who is shot by the police in Tokyo (don’t worry I’m not spoiling anything this is all in the first 10 minutes) and his soul then watches over his sister – integrating subjects of life, death, Tibetan mysticism psycedelic drugs. The trailer will give you an idea of how visually orientated the movie is
The film is shocking and patience testing in places but has to be seen to be experienced – for me its a pure fringe cinematic experience and seeing it outdoors under the stars added to it. I could see it wasn’t for everyone and many people weren’t expecting what they saw. The mood was lightened afterwards by the showing of the Chemical Brothers visual showcase Don’t Think
It tied well with Enter The Void with them both being highly visually orientated and both set in Japan. Don’t Think blew me away. Filmed at The Fuji Rock Festival – 20 cameras were also given to people in the crowd to build this immense experience of a movie. Seeing it on this huge screen under the stars with the that pumping sound system is the best way to see it, you really felt like you were there at the concert. Also I got my wish – this was the point where the whole venue was on its feet and dancing, felt like being in a festival, it was a truly immersive experience – the trailer gives you an idea of what we experienced
If you have never experienced The Film4 Summer Screen I suggest you do – it is the best outdoor cinema out there – I cannot wait for next year!!!
By Tendai – Cognitive Space