There is something extraordinarily satisfying about watching a movie in an outdoor cinema. The hustle of the city goes on in the background of the movie, the screen is surrounded by illuminated houses, and sometimes you can hear the echoes of people and cars. But the street cinema draws an invisible boundary between the outside world and doesn’t let it reach the viewer. This is exactly the kind of atmosphere that the Barbican Centre’s outdoor cinema unveils.
Every year at the end of August, the Barbican unveils its outdoor cinema in one of its least known buildings, Sculpture Court. The list of films on offer is updated every year and includes not only this year’s new releases, but also beloved classics, award-winning films in various festival categories and internationally acclaimed masterpieces in their original language.
Outdoor cinema season will begin on Wednesday August 23 with Andrei Tarkovsky’s autobiographical film Mirror (USSR, 1975), a philosophical and visually striking poem the form of a film, in which the director recalls his rural childhood in the Soviet Union before World War II and explores the fate of the Russian people. The movie features unforgettable images, music by Bach and poems by the director’s father, Arseny Tarkovsky.
Hero (China, 2002) is an epic about martial arts in ancient China from director Yimou Zhang, which received an Oscar nomination. With stunning visual effects by renowned cinematographer Christopher Doyle and an incredible cast including Tony Leung, Jet Li, Ziyi Zhang and Maggie Cheung, it’s a beautiful story about love, loss and believing in something bigger than yourself.
The Last Waltz (USA, 1978) is a movie by legendary director Martin Scorsese about the farewell concert of the legendary band The Band. This movie is a tribute to the band that became famous in the late 1960s. The movie is a remarkably accurate portrayal of the era that became a defining one for the band. The movie stars Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison and Neil Young.
Naüsikaa of the Valley of the Wind (Japan, 1984) is a Japanese post-apocalyptic animated fantasy film created by the cult animator Hayao Miyazaki. This thrilling science-fiction film has received widespread critical acclaim and has been attracting viewers for years with its dreamlike landscapes and elaborate design, which will contrast well with the brutalist environment of the Barbican. The main character, the wise and brave Naüsikaa, retains the inherent kindness and touching nature of Miyazaki’s characters.
In one of the best thrillers Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (USA, 1954) James Stewart plays the role of a man who suspects that one of his neighbours committed a murder. This is one of the greatest explorations of voyeurism in cinema, and even after nearly 70 years it remains a gripping and relevant as ever thriller. Where else can you watch this movie but in the Barbican, surrounded by apartments from which residents watch from above.
Aretha Franklin’s famous 1972 performance at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles is captured in Sydney Pollack’s film Amazing Grace (USA, 2018). The movie is considered one of the greatest concert films ever made and captures Franklin in her prime.
Jenny Livingston’s Paris Is Burning (USA, 1990) is a film that chronicles the New York drag scene of the 1980s, celebrating the balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its vitality. Its importance has continued to grow over the years: it was a rare film that focused on the lives of queer people of colour, whose charisma comes through in witty interviews, rousing numbers and performances.
In Ryan Coogler’s Oscar-winning film Black Panther (USA, 2018), audiences are invited to experience majestic Wakanda and the electric cityscapes of Busan under the Barbican summer night sky. Emotions and adrenaline are off the charts in this magnificent science fiction movie.
The outdoor movie screening will conclude on September 3 with the classic film Singin’ in the Rain (USA, 1951). One of Hollywood’s most beloved musicals with best performances by Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. The movie is filled with rousing numbers (Make ‘Em Laugh, Good Morning and others) that are guaranteed to turn on the audience, as well as great performances and a witty script.
Among other things, building on the success of the cinema in recent years, this year it has a new official sponsor, Campari, and so the Barbican invites the audience to enjoy a free Campari Spritz or a non-alcoholic Crodino aperitif with the purchase of every ticket.
Tickets are available via the link: