Over the weekend Mamon and I went to Secret Cinema’s latest immersive theatrical event – Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel.
The first rule of Secret Cinema is tell no one however the fact that the company has gone from about 200 people attending in 2007 to over 21,000 people attending now suggests that the secret isn’t so much of a secret any more. Well, when people like me go, have a fantastic time and then write and tell everyone about it this doesn’t really surprise me.
Usually Secret Cinema doesn’t announce the title of the film in advance, thereby creating a true surprise. This time they did and it was the giddy, stylish, wonderful caper The Grand Budapest Hotel, a movie which seems to be made for the Secret Cinema experience. So over the weekend my mum and I donned our best 1930s outfits – her a long velvet dress , the jacket of my dreams with shoulder pads to die for, and a broad brimmed hat, and me in a dropped waist dress, brogues and a lovely headband – and headed to the secret location we had only been told off the day before via email.
We had been told to bring alpine postcards, pink flowers, an old suitcase with old clothes, learn to waltz and learn a poem. Well. That added to our anticipation like nothing else. We also had to have the correct documentation – Visas and entry papers – and filling these in was so enjoyable since we got to create completely new characters for ourselves.
Once inside all phone had to be given in. They were all placed in draw string handbags and you were given a key in exchange. After this we entered the hotel and were free to roam the lobby, the bedrooms, and the dining room as well as mingle with the staff all of whom had been dressed to resemble characters from the movie. The attention to detail was wonderful and it helped that I had seen the trailer for the movie in order to recognise this. The pastel-pink macaroon boxes, the kitsch décor, and the wonderful costumes all created the right mood for the movie.
The food on offer was delicious as were the cocktails. There is something extra glamorous about sipping a cocktail in a decadent hotel as you chat to very dapper gentleman in a bow tie and top hat. While I won’t be saying much more, since I am also going to be keeping the secret, there was a moment when I grabbed my mother on the upper arm disturbing her from her frankly delicious Apfelstrudel mit Cream and stage whispered (read: shouted), ‘Mum I think he’s dying’ as our dinner companion started to turn very red in the face. Since I have never been able to do that and (hopefully) never will in real life, it was the cherry on my Secret Cinema based cake.
Once we had explored the hotel and finished our delicious meal we were all ushered into the lecture room where the screening of The Grand Budapest Hotel was about to begin. I am a fan of Wes Anderson and I like his movies. This movie I loved. It was comical, dark, farcical and lovely. Ralph Fiennes played the legendary concierge Gustave H and Tony Revolori his lobby boy and protégé Zero Moustafa. The plot followed the two of them as they tried to clear Gustave H’s name after he is accused of murder.
While we both loved the whole concept we would have been over the moon at being able to spend more time in the hotel. There was just so much to do and see that we couldn’t get to everything even though we tried. For something like this, when the film is new and not a classic as Secret Cinema’s usual choices, time to explore after the screening would have been wonderful too. There were so many references to the film that made sense in hindsight and so many touches in the hotel which I loved seeing on the screen.
Secret Cinema is hosting The Grand Budapest Hotel for the rest of the month so if you want to then you can book tickets and go. It isn’t cheap but it is brilliant.
This was the only photo we were allowed to take inside – and they took it.