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Star Wars warms the heart under the stars

By midlandsmovies, Aug 30 2016 01:28PM

Star Wars warms the heart under the stars

The Summer Nights Festival has been a staple of the Midlands movie scene for the past few summers as Derby Quad arrange a selection of brilliant film shows at unique venues across the region.

These outdoor film screenings began with just a handful of stately homes showing mainstream movies in picturesque surroundings amongst neo-classical mansions and exotic gardens and parklands.

2016’s season was no different in this respect but has seen both the number of screenings AND the areas in which they are shown grow in size dramatically. Now no longer so Midlands-centric, this summer’s events have spread as far as RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, Blickling Estate in Norfolk and Dunham Massey in Cheshire.

These new events compliment the established shows of Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and Wollaton Hall in Nottingham where that home’s Elizabethan mansion stood in for Wayne Manor in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

And it is at Wollaton Hall where my experience began a few years ago – they showed the aforementioned Batman movie – whilst this year also saw a more-than-appropriate screening of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. A suitable Nottingham film for a Nottingham location

The final film at Wollaton over the August Bank Holiday was the recently released Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A friend and I headed down Sunday with the sun shining brightly before parking in the grounds of the mansion. A short walk up the hill in the evening sunlight fully encapsulated the impressive beauty of the building which sits atop a small rise. It must be said that these events are prone to the whim of the British weather but the outlook for tonight’s screening looked pretty good.

Heading to the side of the building we entered the grounds which sloped back down towards the screen. Over 1500 people would eventually fill this space with a selection of portable chairs, picnics and food and drink for a completely sold out show.

Although I wore a Bane outfit for the Batman showing, I toned it down (a bit) this time by only bringing my Kylo Ren helmet which was a leftover from our own themed Star Wars night back in June. I need not have worried as there were plenty of fully dressed Stormtroopers as well as pilots, Ewoks and a Darth Vader who ended up posing for photos with children and MANY adults throughout the build up.

As the night drew in, the film began with the classic opening crawl and the John Williams fanfare which boomed across the field. The sound was good and the picture clear and a magical evening was had as the sun (just the one mind) disappeared from view, and was replaced by a vast array of stars in the clear night sky above.

I’ve seen the film many times (6 times on the big screen yet none so far on home release) and the family adventure between the light and the dark side was enjoyed by all those in attendance. One slight flaw was the food stall, who packed away using a huge floodlight to move their equipment into a van during the show. Trying to be whisked to a galaxy far far away in the dark was difficult when the movement of 60ft silhouettes were jostling about on the side of a building for 30 minutes.

That small criticism aside, the night was a fun screening and the addition of people in suitably galactic costumes helped the evening’s atmosphere.

With ten more events still to come in 2016 (including Midlands shows in Lincolnshire and Shropshire) I encourage film fans to experience these fantastic evenings in special backdrops that can turn a regular movie-going trip into a sparkling show at a beautiful location.

Midlands Movies Mike

For more information, show times and to purchase tickets then please go to www.summernightsfilm.co.uk

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