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REVIEW: Secret Cinema’s Moulin Rouge

Entering the world of Secret Cinema’s Moulin Rouge, I have been given extremely strict and private instructions. They pertain only to me and if I follow them will give me access to a secret underground world.

Secret Cinema has been putting on elaborate, immersive screenings of classic movies for quite some time now – much more than just watching an old film, the events go to great pains to reconstruct the entire atmosphere of them, from set recreations and costumed extras to performers and themed food and drink. Highlights have included a showing of Back To The Future which took place in a recreation of the film’s 1955 town square setting, and The Empire Strikes Back, set in a fully-realised Star Wars setting.

This evening’s event is a screening of Baz Luhrmann’s lurid 2001 musical Moulin Rouge, set in the Parisian theatre of the same name during the 1890s. Stepping across the threshold, I’m given a new life to experience inside Secret Cinema’s Moulin Rouge world. I have a character to play, things to bring, people to meet. It provides me with a whole new persona with in-depth details of what my life would have been like in Montmarte in 1899, as well as plenty of inspiration for my costume.

Feather headdress and boa to hand, I feel ready to experience life inside this part-theatre, part-cinema event. Although I get a few stares on the tube from people that are not part of this world, as soon as I go through the gates of Montmarte station my new life suddenly starts to come alive.

There is champagne to drink, French food to eat, dancers, dreamers, philosophers, misfits and aristocrats to meet. I feel like I have entered a world full of creative souls. It is a place which constantly changes, there are tears and laughter, trysts and turns, boos and cheers. It is a place where dreams can be lost as quick as they can be gained.

My time there is an adventure into a world completely different to my own that I would like to go back to again and again. I feel sad leaving it as I sit back on the tube on my way home this time – boa still on and feather headdress to hand. Secret Cinema Moulin Rouge is no ordinary world.

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