Being a film fanatic is expensive. It is an obsession that strains the wallet, between weekly releases, film-related events and cinema. London is the country’s capital of the industry, so a perfect fit for those enthusiasts who crave filmic material to fulfill their artistic appetite. It is an indulgence that feeds the brain as well as the body. Tom Clarke takes you on a filmic tour of London.
Cold, with the rough draft of automatic doors letting in the elements, the coach station was awash with excitement. Empty for a weekday, the place was desolate, un-kept, and quiet. Dreary overhead the coach finally arrived, 15 minutes late – not good. Untidy throughout the inside, the drive was adequate, but held neither smell nor sight of interest aside the mar of someone’s leavings escaping their confines at the back. Standard, mundane, the excitement was coming to me for what lay ahead. The day remains dull and way too typical for the liking of the vast majority no doubt, but that doesn’t matter. I will be there soon.
Perfectly circular and set in the most unlikely of places – a busy roundabout, with a constant stream of traffic entering its path – the IMAX is an impressively built structure that comprises of glass, and lots of it. Modern and stylish, not to dissimilar to the articles that feature in GQ magazine, the architecture is outstanding in what it brings to the surrounding segments of the city.
Inside I am welcomed to the warmth of hot air hitting my face, and the smell of popcorn arousing the deep recess of my nose. It is vast, still circular and littered with men dressed all in black, outlining the way patrons must follow. It is also quiet, with the sound of outside lost within the walls, perfect for what it was designed to achieve. Moving up the ballroom stairs, I enter the screen. Breath taken away, the immense size reflects upon me with its layout. The film is about to start.
Made of net, the curve of the canvas outlines the speakers held underneath. Positioned in such a way that it is always impressive, the film then begins. With the sound emitting with such force, the impression lingers with me throughout. Immersing its captive audience into an art gallery, comprising off thousands of still framings. The movie finishes. Catching breath, I leave.
Like a ship on the dock, the Southbank Centre resides on the edge of the Thames and has portholes that show a glimpse of the on goings happening below. Workers, in full view of passers by, continue their plight with the love of film obvious to all. Entering the BFI Southbank the smell is different, fresh and fragrant. Still modern, very white, the building is set out for the enthusiast that it attracts. A library brimmed with old editions, have far gone books decorate the wall, and galleries are there to showcase the hobby of millions. What else this building offer really doesn’t declare itself. Disappointed, I leave.
Following the cobbled paths of London, I find myself outside the National Museum of Film. This is how it is all made. Intrigued I enter and feel instantly like a spy. A theme tune to a staple of British intelligence plays overhead, and my suaveness grows with every step. The exhibition is large, the cars are attractive and the gadgets mesmerising. Every aspect of this museum speaks to me one word. Bond.
Dark and atmospheric, with the smoke machine playing its part, the museum comes to live with the intertwined sounds of various clips competing for audience attention. Spotlights bring life to the various expositions that the building holds.Announcing the skill, craft and props that work well together to create something timeless, these lights illustrate what is important. Moving forward the sound of children litter the air, their elation apparent without even seeing the smiles that they hold. Nostalgic and intriguing, the journey around the place takes little time, but requests multiple trips – so that I can take in all that is offered. Returning upstairs I am welcomed by the natural light, entering through a wall that comprises multiple windows, serving as a binary opposite to what has came before.
Delving deep into the archives, the displays outline a lot of what I crave. Relishing the chance to see some of British film heritage in one place– 50 years and counting – the Bond exhibit slowly draws to an end. With that my tour is finished. Returning to my day-to-day life, realism strikes my wallet and me.
Obviously all of this fuel for my obsession does not come cheap. Being a film fanatic is expensive.