Inside Secret Cinema's Opulent Moulin Rouge
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Getting off the DLR in east London, it's clear that this isn't going to be an ordinary evening. It never is when the platform is a sea of bowler hats and corsets. Like us, everyone is here to see — or rather — experience Secret Cinema's take on Moulin Rouge.
Once inside, it's clear that Secret Cinema hasn't skimped on the production aspects. Before the film begins there are ample things to do and see. Every little corner is crammed with some incredible detail, detail made all the better by the enthusiasm with which the audience is partaking. The place is absolutely buzzing, with people having the time of their lives.
The most impressive aspect of the whole shebang is the seamless blending of fantasy and reality. On more than one occasion, we mistake punters for paid actors who work for Secret Cinema. This complete immersion into the world of Montmartre is pulled off without a hitch. Special kudos go to the decision to seal people's phones away upon entry, removing the modern world's most addictive temptation to stop engaging with what's before your eyes.
After ample offerings of Parisian food and drink — a particularly dangerous Green Fairy even makes an appearance — it's time for the film proper to start. Befitting of Baz Luhrmann's over-the-top style, the screening is announced in the most brazen and creative way. Interestingly, Secret Cinema isn't afraid to stray from its source material for this grand show, but that's an excellent decision. The energy of the film is captured brilliantly.
If you're seriously wanting to watch Moulin Rouge for the first time, this isn't the way to do it. There's a lot happening down in the pit — where the majority of the audience is — throughout the evening. These distractions bring more unbridled joy to the night's proceedings, leaving us dizzy with excitement. The spectacle is fantastic, but makes occurrences up on the silver screen hard to follow.
Our one niggle is that we didn't have as much time to explore this brilliant recreation of Montmartre as we would have liked. You can have a wander back through the other areas after the film begins, but to do this is to miss out on the wonderful spectacle of the film (and everything that goes with it). Plus, the areas become ghost towns with the audience in the main room watching the film; they lack the excitement that made them quite so vibrant originally.
To see and indulge in absolutely everything you'd either need to make multiple trips, or attend on a Friday or Saturday when Montmartre stays open later. However, with the cheapest tickets at £49 on a usual night and £79 on Fridays and Saturdays, this won't be feasible for many.
The world of Montmartre presented is extravagant but Secret Cinema has eyes on some very real world issues too. Upon entry we were asked whether we'd like to make a donation to Help Refugees. Secret Cinema has also begun its own form of activism through the Secret Foundation. Activities thus far have included raising awareness for mental health issues and co-organising the March for Europe.
If you're a fan of Moulin Rouge and fantasise about stepping into its grand world, then this is must see. There are people just like you there, unapologetic in their love of the film. For everyone else, it's still a whirlwind of a good time. Just don't approach it as a film screening; instead it's the best themed party you've ever been to.
Secret Cinema Presents Moulin Rouge! Tickets available from £49
Last Updated 18 December 2017