500 Days Of Film Falls In Love With Europe's Biggest Cinema - The Royal Albert Hall
On Saturday night, I was fortunate enough to visit London’s Royal Albert Hall for Jurassic Park Live. This event saw the screening of Steven Spielberg's classic dino movie accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.
It was a truly wonderful night and a very special cinema experience. Sure, the tickets didn’t come cheap (I paid £58 for mine) but, there in the glorious main auditorium, it felt worth every single penny.
Indeed, if I had the chance (and the budget) I would attend every single one of Royal Albert Hall’s film screenings. Here are five reasons why:
1. The Sense Of History
When you attend a movie event at the Royal Albert Hall, you feel a part of the venue's history. This is no cold, corporate multiplex experience.
The Hall’s first ever film screening, a film called Our Navy, 1805-1905, took place on 21st October 1905 in honour of the centenary of the Battle Of Trafalgar. Many films were screened thereafter including Fritz Lang’s Die Niebelungen.
However, the rise of the multiplex during the 1930s-1990s saw a fall in the number of movie screenings at the Royal Albert Hall.
That all changed in 1996 when Disney hired the Hall for its European premiere of 101 Dalmations. This sparked a number of exciting and high profile film premieres, including several Bond films and James Cameron’s Titanic 3D.
Royal Albert Hall relaunched its programme of screening films accompanied by live orchestras in 2009 with The Lord Of The Rings Fellowship Of The Ring. The Hall never looked back. Past events include Interstellar Live, Aliens Live, Amadeus Live, Independence Day Live, Gladiator Live, Frozen In Concert and The Godfather Live.
2. The Magical Atmosphere
There is something special about Royal Albert Hall. It has a truly magical atmosphere. “The Royal Albert Hall is the most beautiful, atmospheric hall in the world,” explains Ludwig Wicki, Conductor of the 21st Century Orchestra.
Steve Linder, producer, Film Concerts Live/IMG Artists, adds that the Hall is “one of my favourite places in the world to do a film with orchestra concert… It’s just a magical space. The history of it, the spirit of it, the joy of it. There are very few places where the experience becomes transcendent because of the Hall.”
Into this magical space a huge cinema screen is created. The Hall's technical team can start their work as early as 2am before the event, depending on the orchestra's rehearsal times. The 20m screen takes nearly five hours to build and is truly awesome to behold.
3. The Stunning Live Music
The orchestras that accompany the films at Royal Albert Hall are stunning. It is at times hard to decide what to watch - the musicians or the film itself!
There is so much talent on display - it is all just so impressive. Of course, not only do the musicians have to perform the scores but they also have to be absolutely precise in their timing. (In the fascinating video below, Ludwig Wicki explains the technology that helps with this challenge.)
It is lovely, at the interval or after the last credits have rolled by, when the audience can finally show its appreciation for the orchestra’s amazing work. Well worth a standing ovation.
4. The Community Spirit
Having attended a few film events at Royal Albert Hall, I can testify to the tremendous sense of community spirit at these screenings. This is, of course, largely because everyone loves the movie being shown. However, it is also down to the atmosphere created by such a large audience (the Hall seats some 5000 people).
I loved the warm, knowing reaction to Harrison Ford’s line, “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage”, in Raiders Of The Lost Ark Live. It was a joy to be a part of something beloved by so many. There were many similar moments in Jurassic Park Live - particularly during the infamous Jeff Goldblum “naked chest” (meme-city) scene.
Steve Linder explains that the screenings take an audience “back to what movie going was originally supposed to be in two ways. First of all, we have live music. Silent pictures had either a live orchestra, or they had an organ player or they had some sense of live music…
“At the same time, films used to be presented in large spaces, in a communal sense, and feeling the sense of community, and feeling the experience, and feeling the reactions of the people is unlike sitting at home on your couch and watching this film on television. There is just no comparison!”
5. The Classic Films
If you are now desperate to experience these live cinema events for yourself, do not worry. There are plenty of classic films to choose from including:
28th December 2016 E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial In Concert
11 March 2017 Titanic Live
11th May-13th May Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone In Concert
9th May 2017 Brassed Off Live
You can indulge your love of film scores further by attending Space Spectacular and hearing the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra perform arrangements from Star Wars, Superman, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Star Trek.
In addition, on 3rd November 2017, composer, James Newton Howard, will conduct the Royal Academy Of Music Orchestra and the Crouch End Festival Chorus in a celebration of his ‘greatest hits’ - including The Hunger Games, Pretty Woman. The Dark Knight and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.
Are You Tempted?
Are you tempted to snap up some tickets to one of Royal Albert Hall's live film screenings? If so, what one will you go for?
Or have you already been to one of these cinematic events? If so, what did you see?
Let me know in the comments section below!