The time has come to go back in time and dive into the midst of the Roman Empire in London this August. As part of the Londinium season, Pop Up Screens is hosting six nights of Roman-inspired films. Here’s your chance to watch the flicks under the stars at the GuildHall Yard, London and get your taste of Roman outdoor cinema.
Screening some of the most Romanesque films out there, the programme covers a breadth of genres. Opening the event is the tongue-in-cheek comedy classic, Monty Python's Life of Brian on Monday 7th August. This will certainly set the Roman scene, of how the Roman Empire really wasn't. Following on is the semi-recent Hollywood outing Pompeii, starring Kit Harington from Game of Thrones (spoiler: the volcano Mount Vesuvius erupts!).
Roman Holiday swoops in next, though technically it's not from the Roman Empire. Starring Gregory Peck as an American newsman and Audrey Hepburn as a princess, we follow the pair on this Oscar-winning romantic journey set in Rome. It wouldn’t be a Roman season if they didn’t screen Jesus Christ Superstar and, as the crescendo mounts, the screenings climax with Carry on Cleo on Monday 14th August, a UK comedy classic, and the Oscar-winning film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe, on Tuesday 15th.
While you're there, they'll have Italian street food for you to try and pop-up events and talks on selected evenings. You can also visit London’s Roman Amphitheatre which is open until 9pm. Tickets are £10 (concessions available) and full details about the programme and where to buy tickets are available on their website.
Swords and Sandals is being hosted by Pop Up Screens, who run a full cinematic programme over the summer weekends in ten parks around London. Presented by Eurowings, one of the top three low-cost airlines in Europe, Pop Up Screens, “bring brilliant movies to cool locations,” whatever the British Summer weather holds.
Pop Up Screens know that, “when you’ve got hundreds of people all in the same place, at the same time, all loving the same movie, it creates a brilliant atmosphere.” If you’ve never been to an outdoor cinema, the film begins when the sun sets. Projected onto a screen larger than life, you are left to sink into the darkness in the au naturel environment: it’s not your usual cinematic experience.
Reading through the FAQs on the website, Pop Up Screens has a refreshing, irreverent tone, encouraging the enjoyment they want you to have at the event. Speaking to David Leydon, the Founder, about how Pop Up Screens started, we were unsurprised to discover where the irreverence stems from.
“Pop Up Screens started because I found [some images of screen-printed film] posters and thought they were very pretty. I then found out they were for an outdoor cinema which seemed like a very cool idea, so I set about finding one to visit locally. The one I found was really disappointing, so I moaned about it for a few months and ultimately decided to either have a go myself or shut up. Six years later, I’m still having a go.”
Their full cinematic programme includes hits like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Grease, La La Land, and The Great Gatsby. They are showing the classics like Peter Pan, Dirty Dancing and Back to The Future. There are also some must-sees if you missed them at the normal cinema: the Oscar-nominated Whiplash, The Big Lebowski, Labyrinth and Shaun of the Dead. Tickets and full details of the Pop Up Screens programme are available on their website. Just remember, you need to bring your own blankets and cushions!
For those of you who want more of the Roman experience, the Swords and Sandals film screenings form only a tiny part of the Londinium season, which runs from July to October this year. Celebrating the unique Roman heritage in London, the City of London Corporation have organised a broad programme of special events, theatre, talks and exhibitions for you to enjoy.
Want to see the Gladiators fighting? Perhaps take in an academic lecture or get a taste of comedic theatre? Need a family fun day for the kids to get involved? You can do that. Including shows with dance, music and digital animation, and wine tasting events, the season is jam-packed with ways for you to explore the Roman heritage in London. To find out more, the full programme for Londinium is available on the Visit London website.
If you've never been to an outdoor cinema before, your time has certainly arrived this summer - two thousand years after the Romans. Swords and Sandals have a Roman selection for you to try in August, and Pop Up Screens have the firm favourites running across the summer. There really is no excuse to miss the outdoor cinematic experience!