August 17, 2015
As the summer sun slowly descended in central London on Saturday night, 15th August, two thousand of us piled into the courtyard at Somerset House in order to watch a cult films double bill of True Romance and The Warriors as part of Film 4 Summer Screen. But how does it rate as an event?
There’s a palpable sense of excitement as we stand in the queue, tickets in hand. As the stewards bleep us through, it’s clear that we’ve arrived a little later than most. The central section – where the fountains normally cleanse the paving stones of the courtyard – is already completely full despite the fact that the films won’t begin for another two hours. This is the first strange aspect of the event. Doors open at 6.30 and the films begin when it gets dark at around 9pm. In order to get the best spot, everybody arrives en masse at Somerset House as early as possible, thus lying there for a further 150 minutes with nothing to actually do aside from nod along to the chilled out background music emanating from the DJ. If there was a silent agreement to arrive from 8pm onwards, who knows, we could all perhaps do something other than lying on the cold hard ground.
The above paragraph sounds incredibly churlish, but it is a thought that crossed my mind despite the fact my friends and I were perfectly happy with our plot and killed the time with Ticket to Ride on an iPad interspersed with a quick visit to the fabulous Print Club London display of the film posters specially created for the Summer Screen event (our favourites were Princess Mononoke and True Romance). Meanwhile, various groups were chowing down on food and drink they’d brought with them, whilst the less organised (note: myself) purchased a blanket and drinks from the bar. The downside to this was the cost but the upside was ensuring that relative comfort was achieved for the duration of the evening. Every cloud.
Speaking of clouds, there weren’t any! This was extremely fortuitous as Summer Screen at Somerset House doesn’t have any provisions in case of rain. Having checked the weather earlier, it had looked like a clear night so thank goodness for that. Umbrellas aren’t allowed incidentally as they'd block the screen, so bear that in mind if your particular sojourn to this incredible venue happens to take place during a downpour.
As the latecomers slowly filtered in and plugged in the gaps (though lying down is definitely still possible; Film 4 and the event organisers don’t oversell), the resident DJ brought the music to a stop as the curator of the event took to the stage to introduce the films with a brief speech. Aside from being cult classics and awesome, there was no real link between our Summer Screen films. True Romance was undoubtedly the fan favourite of the night with well over half of the audience leaving when it ended, huge grins plastered on their face. But those without a late train to catch were duly rewarded with what essentially became an interactive experience as The Warriors blared out on the big screen, “Can You Dig It?” yelled Cyrus of the Gramercy Riffs. Many of the suitably inebriated audience roared back.
As we all filtered out at around 1am, there was nothing but praise for the event. The good weather clearly helped but it’s hard to quite put into words how enjoyable Film 4 Summer Screen at Somerset House really is. A wonderful venue lit up beautifully, a crowd looking to have a great time and attentive stewards helping out wherever required. What more could you want as Alabama and Clarence took an adventure across America? What more could you want indeed. This was a truely enjoyable experience. To quote from the film, “You’re so cool.”
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By Henry Fosdike