Alfresco films come to The Barbican!

History will tell you that punters have been enjoying the cool breeze of outdoor cinema since the end of the 19th Century. Back then you’d see a few short seconds of silent footage, gobsmacked awe would give way to a standing ovation.

By 1907, it was commonplace, people were used to it. By the 30’s America had introduced ‘drive- ins’, then yada yada yada… and now you can’t move for people piled up in parks excitedly watching Back to The Future on a big screen. It’s sort of like skinny dipping, but with movies. Anyway, point is, at the end of August The Barbican will be joining this Outdoor Cinema timeline by getting in on the act for the first time ever, with open-air showings of iconic science fiction films, including: Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey; Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (in which George Clooney slowly floats away from Sandra Bullock); and the pick of the bunch (arguably, very much arguably), 1982’s Tron – the movie that really put Jeff Bridges and day- glo jumpsuits on the map.

It promises to be a feast for the eyes and the soul, an alfresco science-fiction extravaganza. But in the spirit of intergalactic excavation of our own, the curious minds at CP Towers boldly went in search of extra expert knowledge. We wanted to know what the ultimate outdoor movies might be, so we asked some professional film buffs…

Richard Luck, Film Critic at The New European, recommends… Little Shop of Horrors 
The outdoors isn’t a great place to watch serious movies – nothing destroys drama quicker than a large man complaining about the price of a pint at the top of his voice. However, it’s ideal for fun films such as Frank Oz’s adaptation of the Off- Broadway hit. It’s not a favourite film per se. But a balmy night, a cold drink, a pleasant breeze and Steve Martin singing about the joys of dentistry will more than do for most.

Olly Richards, top film critic, recommends… Scream
“If I’m going to watch a movie outdoors it needs to be one that welcomes audience participation, otherwise the noise of other people chatting will get on my nerves (I’m old and cranky). This, a film that’s equal parts horror and comedy is my ideal, because both those genres are better with an excited audience. Plus there’s the added thrill of the possibility that a killer could emerge from the nearby trees AT ANY SECOND.”

Nick de Semlyen, Features Editor at Empire Magazine, recommends… The Blair Witch Project
“I’d go with The Blair Witch Project – best watched in a creepy forest, and you can take along a video camera to document it all for bonus meta-points.”

Find out more about Sci-Fi Sundays and Barbican Outdoor Cinema at