Last weekend saw the first of three Open Air Cinema events in Plymouth this summer in the Tinside Lido. The choice of films, Life of Pi and Jaws are two nautical films that suited the sea side setting.
For me and many others who were lucky enough to get tickets, we were treated to a unique experience of watching two brilliant films right next to the sea. During Life of Pi the weather wasn’t that great. The sea mist had come in and there was fine drizzle that didn’t seem to want to let up for the first hour of the film. However, instead of ruining the film it merely added to the experience. Looking at the reactions the next day the audience said that the rain added ‘another dimension to the film’. I found the sequence when the Japanese freighter that Pi and his family are on begins to sink particularly effective. It’s a pretty exciting action scene anyway but due to the bad weather on screen and where we were sitting, it felt like I was in the storm with Pi and in reference to the ‘added dimension’ it felt like we were watching an immersive 4D version.
Thankfully the rain did stop in the second half of the film but the effect continued purely from being by the sea and hearing the sounds of the waves and smelling the salty sea air. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, the visuals are stunning, the CGI still looks great and the performances of Irrfan Khan and primarily Suraj Sharma are exceptional.
The Sunday performance of Jaws was a much dryer occasion thank god. I was very excited to see it on the big screen as it is my favourite film. When I am asked the question of ‘What is your favourite film?’ and I say ‘Jaws’, it is usually met with a response of ‘Oh..really?’. After seeing the film with a cinema audience I still find that response odd. After 40 years the film still holds up very well, the story is gripping, the characterisation and development is second to none and it is still pretty terrifying. It was a phenomenon back in 1975 and when the film was announced for the Tinside Lido screening, the Friday showing sold out within a few hours and the Sunday showing was introduced due to overwhelming demand. The Jaws phenomenon clearly still continues and there have been few ‘Summer event’ films that have equaled the quality of the film.
I went to see it with some family and friends and interestingly I was sat next to my friend’s 7 year old son who was watching Jaws for the first time. Coincidentally I was 7 when I first watched it. He knew the ‘Jaws Theme’ and what it meant and whenever the music got intense he would cover himself up in his blanket so he didn’t see the horror on the screen. During the dialogue scenes he was fine but during the first hour he was too scared to see the Shark attacks. As it was a late one he fell asleep by the second hour so it is yet to be confirmed whether he would have been as scared by the events of the second half. It is a testament to how good the film is that is still has the power to scare, decades after it was first released.
I very much enjoyed both nights I attended at the open air cinema. The atmosphere was relaxing, there were great audience reactions during both films and the weekend by all accounts was a great success. The location could not have been more perfect for these two awe-inspiring films that are ultimately about our fear and fascination of the water and what lies beneath it.
Our season of Open Air Cinema continues in August where our venue will be the beautiful Mount Edgcumbe, and in September we will be returning to Royal William Yard. More information on these screenings can be found here.