Secret Cinema – Lawrence Of Arabia at Alexandra Palce

Lawrence Of Arabia comes to Alexandra Palace thanks to Secret Cinema

Alexandra Palace became Arabia for a weekend as I went to the latest production from Secret Cinema, a screening of the epic movie, Lawrence Of Arabia.

Sellers in the Arabian Souck or Market at Secret Cinema's screening of Lawrence of Arabia at Alexandra Palace.Inside the Arabian Souk or Market at Secret Cinema's screening of Lawrence of Arabia at Alexandra Palace.A Secret Cinema Movie-Goer inside the Arabian Souk or Market at Secret Cinema's screening of Lawrence of Arabia at Alexandra Palace.The desert of Arabia recreated by Secret Cinema at their screening of Lawrence of Arbia at Alexandra PalaceEntering the Souk or Market recreated by Secret Cinema at their screening of Lawrence of Arbia at Alexandra PalaceArabian food at the Secret Cinema screening of Lawrence of Arabia at Alexandra PalaceEntering the Souk at Secret Cinema's screening of Lawrence of Arabia at Alexandra PalaceSecret Cinema doesn’t just play movies though and they don’t just throw up some movie related paraphernalia. The whole world that the movie is based on is recreated for the movie-goer to explore and experience for several hours before the movie starts. And the twist, no one knows what the movie will be until they arrive.

Secret Cinema has been running events like this since 2008 and where originally, the whole event might have been secret, now, the secret is definitely out with 1,000s of Secret Cinema fans flocking to Ally Pally over the weekend. Secret Cinema maintain the air of mystery and their “Tell No One!” philosophy by keeping the details of the production secret until the last minute. I bought tickets for the event at the beginning of August when nobody knew what the movie would be or where it would be screened. The mystery was perpetuated as Secret Cinema began to converse with everyone who had bought tickets in the character of the movie they would show, releasing clues and hints along the way. The name of the movie is never confirmed, but 4 days before the screening, I am finally told where it will be and what I should bring and wear. The list included Bedouin Dress, Cushions, Rugs, Musical Instruments and something to barter with.

At the last Secret Cinema event I attended we were all asked to wear goggles and to bring an umbrella. Almost everyone did and it was an amazing sight to see Canary Wharf filled with people wearing all manner of goggles as London’s bankers tried to figure out what was going on.

At this event, the organisers had hit on an even better and easier theme. Arabia and Bedouin dress. Basically, bedsheets and tea-towels. This easy to create outfit meant that almost everyone was dressed up in some way and on Friday evening Twitter was awash with people asking why there were 100’s of school nativity play rejects filling the the underground, as 1,000s of bedsheet bedouins made their way to Alexandra Palace.

When we did arrive we were greeted by live camels and donkeys, by cheeky Bedouin looking for members of their tribe and by tribal leaders on horseback, rallying the newly arrived followers to prepare for our journey and to fight to the death.

Inside Alexandra Palace, a sprawling Arabian souk or market had been recreated alongside an endless desert and a bazarre with a live band and entertainment. The pace was crowded and buzzing as people pushed through the market. Even carrying our cushions and rugs made us fell like the travelling bedouin, moving to our next camp, carrying our belongings with us and buying food in the local market so that we could eat when we settled down. We did settle down but only after a couple of hours of enjoying the Arabian experience that Secret Cinema had put together.

Settling down for the movie involved laying out our rugs and cushions in front of the enormous screen set up in Ally Pally’s West Hall. With our food and drink from the market and our small camp prepared we thought the movie was all that was left, that is, until Lawrence rode into the middle of the hall atop a large Camel! He had come to stop the bickering between the tribal leaders and at the same time, he finally confirmed tonight’s movie, the 1962 epic, Lawrence Of Arabia. After an uplifting speech, he lead the tribal leaders and his camel from the hall and the movie began with the whole hall cheering ans whistling as the opening credits rolled. Secret Cinema’s build up to the event had been superb.

I’d like to recommend that everyone takes the opportunity to check out Secret Cinema and to sign up for their next event, but, I can’t. I’m sworn to secrecy and because of this I can tell no one of this extraordinary method of bringing classic movies back to life.


Lawrence of Arabia 2 Disk DVDLawrence Of Arabia is an epic and I sat for the full 218 minutes (they even had an intermission it was that long), but lots of people couldn’t last that long or had to leave to get trains before they stopped for the night. If you missed it, or, if you’re intrigued by the story and want to see what we all enjoyed, you can buy Lawrence Of Arabia on DVD at the great price of £Price Not Available with free UK delivery from

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