Vivienne Westwood opens the new Barbican cinemas
Last night Dame Vivienne Westwood opened the new Barbican centre cinemas, which is the new cinema block and the first addition to the Barbican since it opened in 1982.
The new block has two new screens, each to seat 156 people, and a rather plush cafe and bar. The cafe was an open plan affair that managed that hardest of feats, to remain comfortable while looking elegant. The quality is so good that it would be an attractive place to go even without going on to watch a film.
The screens themselves were a bit of a mixed bag. Aesthetically they were beautiful, capacious red leather seats with plenty of legroom worked perfectly with the muted colours on the walls. Of course most people go to the cinema to watch the film rather than the seats. The screens were surprisingly small for a new build, and one feels that this was due to a constraint on space rather than choice. There was a little bit of sound bleeding from the cafe and one can imagine if the bar got full and somewhat raucous that this could be a problem. That being said, the films were projected beautifully, the cinema was darkened perfectly and it was incredibly comfortable.
The Barbican have installed 2 projection windows in each new screen, so it has full digital projection as well as 16mm and 35mm projection. This a great move because it means they have the capability to show the latest 3D films and screen classic films from the past. The new capacity means that the Barbican can now show the latest releases along side more niche cinema.
The new cinema block is a welcome addition to the Barbican and the concept of showing mainstream films alongside silent classics and art-house outsiders is a noble aim. The only small problem is the issue of the small screens. Also, it would appear that the Barbican is not screening films in HFR (High Frame Rate), which seems like an oversight for a new cinema.
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