Secret Cinema Secret Cinema presents Star Wars:
The Empire Strikes Back
5/5 MUST must see SEE
dir Irvin Kershner
prd Gary Kurtz
scr Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan
with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Alec Guinness, Jeremy Bulloch, Kenneth Colley
release US/UK 21.May.80
Secret Cinema UK 4.Jun-27.Sep.15
80/US Fox 2h04
Secret Cinema: The Empire Strikes Back
We are Rebel X: A Storm Trooper patrols the Death Star (photo by Will Cooper, above); and scenes from Mos Eisley and the Cantina Bar (by Paul Cochrane, below) Secret Cinema: The Empire Strikes Back
Secret Cinema: The Empire Strikes Back

See also a review of the
1997 Special Edition:
episode v: the empire strikes back

Secret Cinema
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Secret Cinema: The Empire Strikes Back Dressed up as galactic explorer Niles Torwyn, I travel across London to a secret location, where I join a crowd of similarly clad strangers herded together outside Earth Cargo Airlines. We aren't supposed to be here, and are continually told to stay low and keep our faces covered as we run through a maze of industrial space into a vast shipping warehouse. Rebel X, we are with you.

Secret Cinema has outdone itself with this summer's Star Wars installation, laid out on a scale nearly twice as big as last year's enormous Back to the Future site, with a cast of 400 performers seamlessly joining the visitors. And the so-called "wow moments" are seriously spine-tingling. The six-hour experience takes us into the galaxy to visit Mos Eisley spaceport, including a bustling street market and the Cantina Bar, followed by a trip to a secret Rebel base and the Death Star itself.

All around us are actors in various roles, including all of the film's main characters, plus swarms of mischievous Jawas and menacing Storm Troopers. They interact with us, sending us on missions, training us in the ways of the Force and re-enacting scenes from A New Hope leading to an interactive screening of The Empire Strikes Back. There are at least two hugh events that cause a surge of goosebumps, and the entire experience is staged with staggering attention to detail, from the sandy surface of Tatooine to a constant threat of unexpected danger.

Of course, The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the Star Wars films to date, mainly because it centres on character development, including a generous vein of prickly humour and lots of dark emotion. It looks uncannily bright projected digitally, but the effects hold up 35 years later, as does the sense of desperation in the fast-paced story, which fragments our team of heroes right from the start and never lets them fully reunite before the cliffhanger ending.

Intriguingly, Secret Cinema's performances during the screening are fairly minimal, designed to enhance the film more than to reenact it (although there's some of that too). But from the wildly inventive departure to the jubilant final club night, the experience is so epic that it leaves audience members feeling like they actually lived a movie that's already deeply engrained in the memory. In other words, regardless of the steep £78 ticket price, this is the experience of a lifetime for any Star Wars fan.

Two hints for anyone attending: First, arrive early and take the time to walk into any open door, talk to people, get involved, explore every corner of Mos Eisley. Second and most importantly, be sure to go up the spaceport stairs before 8pm.

cert 15 themes, violence revisited 12.Jun.15

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Secret Cinema: The Empire Strikes Back Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall