Secret Cinema Presents 'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'

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A few months ago, I promised I'd write a review of Secret Cinema's new big summer venture, "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back". Now that the screenings have come to an end, I can provide as much information as possible without spoiling the fun for anyone. For those who are not familiar with Secret Cinema, Secret Cinema is a company that provides an immersive cinema experience. Before the film, the viewers are immersed in a world created and inspired by the film. During the film, actors dressed like the characters in the film take part to bring the experience to life. (Photographs were not permitted at the venue.)


The last two major events have made it into the mainstream. Last summer was "Back to the Future" (covered here), which also has a revival this year with its 30th anniversary. This summer was "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back". I am really not sure where they go to from something as big as "Star Wars".

I've always been a huge fan of the film "Star Wars", back when it was not considered to be cool, and everyone in the past few years seems to love it. It's particularly popular at the moment with the new film coming out in December, so everyone is getting in on the marketing.


"Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" isn't my favourite of the original "Star Wars" trilogy. I've always preferred the first film, "A New Hope", but "The Empire Strikes Back" is often cited by many as their most favourite. 

In June, I visited the Secret Cinema Secret Cantina. This nightclub is themed on the cantina from Mos Eisley in the first film. The following weekend, I made my way to the secret location (Canada Water) to be transported to a galaxy far, far away.


The quest started out with some exercises to transition from the real world to the "Star Wars" world. Each guest was provided with a new character name and role. The role I received was "Galactic Explorer", and there was a set of ideas for a dress code. The bloke received the equivelant of the Jedi (they called it 'Creative Council') and his brother received the Pilot but decided to go with the Jedi. Each guest was told to wear a scarf, and this scarf would allow the actors to know the guest's faction. Each faction also had its own role or quest, but everyone's experience would be vastly different.

After the military-style training and interactions with actors, we made our way to a mock Tatooine and Mos Eisley. The model houses were made to look like Luke's farm, the cantina, and Obi Wan Kenobi's house. The Mos Eisley area had a market with sights and sounds similar to the world of "Star Wars" universe. In addition, there were smells of dust and food to heighten the experience. Landspeeders, aliens, the Huts (Jabba), and droids all wandered around the massive set. Also, parts of the film were acted out by actors in various stages.

The objective was to trade to receive a shuttle ticket to the training area. We did this and were led through a mock shuttle journey and captured and taken in on the Death Star. The Death Star was the second large area. We witnessed Princess Leia being captured and held in a cell here with others also being held in cells. 


At the end of the journey, we were called into the main room where the end of the first film was re-enacted with a lightsabre battle with Obi Wan adn Darth Vader and then the Death Star became the trench with an almost-to-scale X-wing suspended above to fire the shot into the port to blow up the Death Star. Afterwards, we made our way into the theatre to continue to story from "The Empire Strikes Back".

We nearly finished our quest, but we ran out of time as we spent a little too long at Mos Eisley, and the experience went so quickly. Actually, I wish that we could have started the experience a little earlier than 5:30.

I would have loved to have gone back to re-live the experience and finish the quest that we had started. I've had a lot going on this year and tickets were costly, so I never got to go back. I'm not sure that Secret Cinema will be able to top "Star Wars", but I am curious to see what they do next year. 

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