You can probably count on the fingers of one transatlanticly befuddled hand the number of times that anyone has mistaken Hackney for New York. Even taking into account epic jetlag combined with elephantine doses of ketamine it would still be a difficult mistake to make. Usually. Thanks to Secret Cinema and their constant urge to impress, the illusion of New York was fixed in the minds of about 2,500 London Fields visitors, most of whom were under the influence of nothing more disorientating than popcorn and good tea. This was the Secret Cinema September screening of The Warriors, their most ambitious undertaking so far.
Secret Cinema is an organisation that specialises in one-off cinema events. Each occasion is something new and each punter gets a special surprise. That’s the secret – you don’t know what you’re going to see or what’s going to happen. For The Warriors, the 1979 New York gangland odyssey, London Fields was transformed with theme park trappings and marauding handfuls of colourful gang members, done up like the gangs from the film – The Baseball Furies, The Punks, The Rogues, The Lizzies, The Hi Hats and The Satan’s Mothers. The gangs do some posing, taunt each other and occasionally break off to be chased round the park by Officer Dibble. The cool cars and cool clothes make gang membership look enticing. Luckily, there is a large fence to keep Hackney’s real miscreants out, so our blankets, mobiles and fancy dress boxes are safe. ‘Yay, Magners me up!’
The magic descended along with the darkness and then we got a rare viewing of Romain Gravas’s video clip for ‘Stress’ by Justice. Rarer still for having its kids-get-gang-kicks controversy blasted out on a big screen with big sound. ‘So French!’ applauded the Green Fiends. ‘Morally Bankrupt,’ mumbled the Flapjack Mafia.
Then the main feature. If you’re going to give people a surprise it pays to put some quality inside the wrapping. The Warriors is pure quality. Happily shorn of arseache-inducing waffle (remember, everyone is sitting out on the ground), the characters are drawn broadly but smartly and the action is happily free of guns and big on running. It also has the most sumptuously glorious lip close-ups ever committed to film. ‘Give me more of that sticky stuff’, shrieked the Southside Pouters as the film’s DJ appeared for the last time to bring the film to a close. They were to be disappointed. The Warriors were home at last and it was time for the assorted posses in the crowd to pack up their recycling and start their own happy treks back to home turf.
Next event: Halloween special on October 31. To sign, up, visit the Secret Cinema website.