Fortunately for those of us in the UK who aren’t willing to go to such drastic lengths, Pinewood Studios have come to our rescue. Between now and the end of the year the renowned film studio has set aside an area of their lot to screen a series of drive-in movies. HeyUGuys were fortunate enough to be invited along to their screening of The Shining, and we’re pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint.
As we arrived at the studio we joined a queue of traffic backed up along a country lane in Buckinghamshire. As we edged closer to our destination we rounded a corner, and were confronted by the entrance to the studio: a large, sweeping canopy, with a multi-coloured light show illuminating the words “˜Pinewood Studio’.
After we were let in, we re-joined the queue of traffic, heading towards the Paddock Lot, where we would be watching the film. As we drove through the studio we passed monumentally large stages, and old buildings festooned with plaques commemorating filmmakers who have worked at the studio.
Eventually we pulled into the area in which the film would be shown. On our left was Pinewood’s Underwater Stage, on our right, a vast screen, just behind which was the (currently empty) exterior water tank. Driving past the tank we got a clear view of the screen, and realised just how monumental it was. At 240ft wide, and 60ft high this dwarfs the IMAX at Waterloo.
We eventually parked the car about 100 feet from the screen, ordered some snacks, re-tuned the radio and waited.
During this wait, we were treated to disco classics on the radio, and had enough time to realise that the car in front was slightly blocking the bottom of the screen. This wasn’t a problem for long, however, as we simply moved our car a couple of feet backwards, and the screen was in perfect view.
As the film began to roll we made ourselves comfortable and began to get into the film. Unfortunately there was a repeated rhythmic hissing sound on the radio; music broadcast on another frequency was interfering with the film’s soundtrack. This was solved easily enough though, by simply re-tuning the radio. A similar quick fix, involving a bag and the car’s parcel shelf was used to block out a light shining through the rear window. These little annoyances out of the way, we finally gave the film our full attention.
It would be entirely fair to say that The Shining loses something when shown as a drive-in movie. Any sense of suspense is shattered by the sound of engines being turned on periodically to clear windscreens and recharge batteries, as well as the sight of people wandering around the car park, trying to find the toilet.
The soundtrack also fails to stand up when played through the tinny little speakers of the Fiat 500 we were in, but these niggles are minor compared to everything we got from the experience.
The privacy of the car made the experience a lot less formal than being in the cinema, and consequently allowed us to literally put our feet up and relax. At the same time, the fact that we weren’t watching a perfect presentation of the film gave us license to discuss the film as we watched, all without fear of disturbing anyone around us.
There was also something much less tangible added to the film by the novelty of where we were. Unlike American studios, with their backlot tours, Pinewood rarely opens it’d gates to the public, so watching a film that was shot there in such an unusual fashion really was a rare and incredible experience.
The studio is running screenings until Saturday 6th December. A full list of films showing is available at the Pinewood Studios website.