BFI to screen sci-fi spectacular at British Museum

British Museum BFI event x575

By Ray Bennett

The BFI has announced a sci-fi film spectacular called “Sci-fi: Days of Fear and Wonder” with classic titles to kick off in the grounds of the British Museum in London on the August bank holiday weekend.

Three sci-fi pictures will screen at the open-air venue on successive nights Aug. 28, 29 and 30: Val Guest’s “The Day the Earth Caught Fire”, Nicolas Roeg’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and Mike Hodges’s “Flash Gordon”.

The BFI, which staged a festival of gothic films at the British Museum last year and a Hitchcock festival the year before, said it will use the biggest outdoor screen so far with a top-rate sound system for audiences of up to 1,200 each night.

Organisers said, “Each evening the out-of-this-world entertainment will be accompanied by special guests and the invitation for viewers to participate in the terrestrial fun.”

The screenings are the curtain-raiser for the “Fear and Wonder”  project, which will run nationwide in October through December. The BFI said it will be a major film season in cinemas and online on the BFI Player with more than 100 film and TV titles to be presented in partnership with the BFI’s Film Audience Network.

Details of the full programme, including screenings, events, film and DVD releases, special guests and more will be announced on July 17.

BFI Creative Director Heather Stewart noted that the UK has blazed a sci-fi trail across literature, TV and film from science fiction’s origins with writer H.G. Wells, to time-travelling television hero Dr Who, to the latest instalment of “Star Wars” shooting currently at Pinewood.

She said: “Sci-Fi  reveals our hopes and fears for the future, lets us makes contact with the cosmos, and takes us on a fantastical journey to the limits of our humanity – we’re excited to open up new worlds of sci-fi film for audiences across the UK, and this spectacular event at the British Museum is the perfect curtain-raiser to our autumn blockbuster.”

In “The Day the Earth Caught Fire” (1961), which has a new restoration for the screening, the earth suffers ferocious weather conditions after nuclear tests knock Earth off its axis. Edward Judd stars with Janet Munro and Leo McKern. The BFI says: “Aided by a vivid depiction of the world of newspaper journalism, and extensive location shooting on the streets of London, director Val Guest delivers one of the best of all British sci-fi films and the chilling scenes of a deserted London rival those in ‘28 Days Later’.”

In “The Man Who Fell to Earth” (1976), an alien looking for water becomes stranded and initiates a plan to amass a fortune to fund a space programme so he can return to his home planet. The BFI says, “David Bowie’s impressive performance in his first major screen role (and clearly building on his other-worldly public persona) helped in tandem with Nicolas Roeg’s mesmerising direction to turn this into a cult film.”

“Flash Gordon” (1980) in a new digital transfer stars Sam J. Jones, who appeared recently in “Ted”, as Alex Raymond’s popular comic strip character who squares off against Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow) to save the planet. Melody Anderson, Topol and Timothy Dalton are among the cast of the picture. The BFI says: “Mike Hodges directs with verve and wit; Queen provide the memorable score and Fellini’s frequent collaborator, Danilo Donati, provides costume and set designs that ravish the eye. And not forgetting Brian Blessed with wings!”

Both “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and “Flash Gordon” will screen courtesy of StudioCanal and Park Circus Films.

This story appears on Event Cinema News

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