Bringing Casablanca Back to Life: Future Cinema’s Immersive Experience
Future Cinema is famous in London for their Secret Cinema events and immersive productions. Changing the meaning of ‘remastered in 3D’, their new reimagining of Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca not only creates an unforgettable experience, but also pushes the boundaries of cinema culture.
Over the years there seems to have been a growing number of cinephiles in the world. From enthusiasts who will camp out in the cold to be the first to see a new release to fans who go to large efforts to dress up as their favourite characters, cinema culture for many people has become so much more than watching a movie on a large screen. But can the cinematic experience be taken even further? London-based Future Cinema believes so, and have been pushing the boundaries of what was once known as ‘a quiet night out at the movies.’
2013 sees their latest creation, Casablanca, which is based on Michael Curtiz’s 1942 film of the same name. The production transforms London’s old Troxy Cinema into Rick’s American Cafe in Morocco during the Second World War. This journey back in time begins as soon as you reach the back entrance of the venue, with the cobbled stoned alleyway being guarded by French-accented military officers. The great effort and detail that was put into this captivating entrance was evident as these acting law-enforcers, taken straight out of the film, checked everyone’s ‘papers’: the tickets for the show that were made to look like passports. This unexpected and immediate introduction to the night stood as a sign that this was going to be an experience like no other.
The neon-pink sign glowed ‘Rick's Café Américain’, as the early patrons lined up outside in anticipation. However, entering the venue wasn’t as simple as one might expect, and I found myself in a spot of trouble. Trying to explain that I didn’t have my ‘papers’ because I was a reviewer was entertaining yet challenging, due to the actors never once dropping character. Lucky though, I escaped the fate of some other poor visitors, who when unable to show their tickets were subsequently lined up against a wall and told the spread their legs. Future Cinema truly were bringing the film to life.
Once allowed into the Troxy, the atmosphere relaxed and the decadence that is captured in Curtiz’s classic became apparent. With incredible detail that will thrill fans, the inside felt exactly like it did in the film. There was a cocktail bar, Moroccan dishes being served, roulette and blackjack tables, Sam playing on the piano and a range of memorable characters walking through the space. So immersive was the experience that it was actually rather difficult to know who was an actor and who was part of the audience. Ticket buyers had been encouraged to dress in 1940’s style, and they delivered with incredible commitment. The result was an enthralling experience that took the film genre to new places. While mingling with a stranger who may or may not be acting, one could find themselves suddenly being interrupted by an officer and questioned about their history. Or while playing roulette one might find themselves being begged by a Hungarian wife who needs money to fly to the sanctuary of America. Some audience members were greeted by strangers and asked to dance, while others sat back and enjoyed an array of songs and performances from the film. There were so many unique occurrences happening all around that it was easy to start believing you had actually gone back in time. The only tell-tale sign that we had not been transported into cinema’s silver screen was the abundance of colour that contrasted with the film’s black and white appearance.
After many jives, secret resistance meetings, arrests and much more, the lights dimmed and Casablanca was played. The sensation of watching the film after you have just lived it was fascinating. It allowed for a greater appreciation of this classic and also revealed how authentic the immersive performances had been. Memories sparked as lines that were casually spoken earlier were repeated on the big screen, and the aesthetics of the setting and the film were perfectly matched. Casablanca had been brought to life.
The immersive production that Future Cinema has crafted is awe-worthy. Taking cinema culture in an exciting direction, Casablanca is a chance to not only see a classic, but to live it. The experience truly pushes the boundaries of the genre and creates an unforgettable performance.
For more information and to book tickets, please visit Future Cinema’s Website.