Repertory Cinemas of London 5 – The BFI IMAX

My goodness me, has it really been three months since I have last been to the movies, here in London? Well, more disgustingly, has it been almost a month since I have last written on this blog? Tome, my dear people, is of the essence. All will be revealed, at some point in my oh-so-not really mysterious life. But time is of the essence and I really do not get enough time for myself, let alone anyone else. Sod it, enough moaning, shall we get to the cinema visit of the month.

To be honest, I had planned a visit to the IMAX in August, but I cocked this one up, and so my visit had to wait until free time popped up its mysterious little head in September.

A little history, both official and unofficial. Officially, the IMAX opened in 1999 as part of the regeneration of the South Bank in the 1990’s. Being Britain’s biggest cinema screen, and an impressive architectural structure, there is a lot of ‘raa-raa’ with regards to the IMAX. This article is perfect with regards to the gushing terms used to describe the IMAX’s construction.

However, there is also a glossed over history, that makes the IMAX probably one of London’s more contreversial entertainment spots. You see, before this was known as the IMAX roundabut, this was the Waterloo Bullring. And by the mid-1990’s, it was home to a lot of rough sleepers. This was cardboard city, anm uncomfortable eyesore to the millions of commuters who passed through nearby Waterloo each day. Today, there are still a few homeless people who crawl to sleep in the shadows of the IMAX theatre. Back then, money was chucked at the problem, the dwellers of the Bullring were given free housing. Quite a relief, considering the Houses of Parliament is only a mile away.

But, of course, money cannot be simply be chucked at people in vulnerable housing. The whole point is that many homeless people are also not in a good place emotionally, otherwise they would not have ended up sleeping rough. We know that better today, but in the 1990’s, the movies had to come first, regeneration was the key, and anything not deemed pretty was bulldozed out of sight…

I do remember walking through the Bullring in the 1990’s, frequently visiting London as I came off at Waterloo as a kid. Buying my first Big Issue’s, and not getting why people could not be housed in some free accommodation. After all, the UK is a rich country, right. Fast forward a couple of decades later, and that naive young boy is a slightly less innocent adult. The multitude of society’s problems easily manifest themselves in those that cannot cope. And today, the streets of London are still not paved in gold, but with the tatty sleeping bags of those without a roof over their heads.

But, I think I am meant to be talking about the cinema, right? That big thing on the roundabout, correct?

While the IMAX shows its fair amount of blockbuster films, you can occasionally see the odd piece of artsy-fartsyness creeping through. But, I did see one hell of a blockbuster there.

Unfortunately, time (and money) meant that I could not see the Indiana Jones special this week at the IMAX. However, the Archaeologist in me could not resist a little kinky pose with one of my favourite movie characters, currently located by the pop corn counters of the IMAX.

Getting there and away: Waterloo station is just a couple of minutes walk away. It does not get any easier than that!

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1 Comment

Filed under film, london

One response to “Repertory Cinemas of London 5 – The BFI IMAX

  1. Loved this piece. I’m coming over all nostalgic at the mention of 1999…did we really live through that?

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