We love these outdoor screenings. It’s what summer was invented for. So as the various cinematic offerings came flooding in on promotional emails – of which there were many, as you can’t go into an actual cinema from May to September these days – we crowded round my computer to debate the merits of Dirty Dancing in the grounds of a manor house, The Shining in a graveyard, and Trainspotting in a toilet cubicle (that one’s made up). There were so many to choose from, and only one night. How could we possibly decide? But then… hang on! Jaws? in an outdoor Swimming Pool? Yes please.
So, at what is quite possibly the latest Cog Night start time ever (9:15pm), we rolled up to Brockwell Lido slightly giddy with excitement. We had a futon to sit on; a lot of picnic snacks; some gin in a can; and loads of blankets. We snuggled in ready for the picture, merrily stuffing popcorn into our mouths, at the side of the beautiful Art Deco Grade II listed poolside. It was at this point that the wind picked up and the pre-cinema entertainment started.
For the cinema viewer that prefers to live a little dangerously, there was VIP seating in inflatable dinghies that floated on the pool. As the wind picked up, and the thunder began to rumble, we watched the bravado blanche out of the faces of the VIPers, as they gingerly tried to step into the bucking boats with Bollinger bubbling over-board. ‘Pff. They’re going to need to get a bigger boat’ we sniggered as the film started. So did the the first flashes of lightning, and the raindrops, and so the sea of umbrellas shot up.
What can I say about Jaws? It’s just great isn’t it? It’s as old as time – older than most of the Cog team in fact – and is just spectacular. Without giving too much away it is about a massive great white shark that would have trouble swimming in the 50m pool we were sitting next to. It eats stuff – mostly boats and people, but possibly also a dog – and everyone tries to kill it, with little thought about the health and safety implications of attempting to.
For the real filmos there are all sorts of iconic shots that get discussed in film schools, references to cult cinema and literature, and the schadenfreude that the main protagonist, Chief Martin Brody has come to the quiet seaside town, to get away from the bloodshed and murder of the NYC streets – oh the irony!
We all cheered at the appropriate lines. We jumped at the appropriate effects. And turned to each other with worried looks as the storm got closer, but it all added to the atmosphere. These site-specific cinema experiences are all well and good, but when you really luck out and exit the cinema looking like you have actually survived a shark onboard the boat (The Orca for the fact fans) then you know you’ve had a winning Cog Night.