Movies on the Meadows has a special place in the hearts of Cambridge folk. Nicola Foley finds out why
There’s something about outdoor cinema that seems to capture our collective imagination, and it’s no wonder, really. The idea of being treated to the magic of the silver screen under the stars in some amazing location (ideally snuggled on a picnic blanket with a chilled bottle of wine) is hopelessly romantic.
This explains why, despite our country’s decidedly unreliable weather, pop-up cinemas are popping up all over the place these days, from city rooftops to rural stately homes. But of them all, there’s one that holds a special place in the hearts of Cambridge folk, and that’s the annual Movies on the Meadows.
Taking place on the banks of the River Cam in gorgeous Grantchester, surrounded by nothing but rolling meadows and moonlight, the events have been running each August for the last eight years.
A prelude to the Cambridge Film Festival in October, screenings include new films, classic flicks and kids’ favourites, all broadcast to the audience on huge inflatable screens.
This year’s event – taking place over an unprecedented four days from 26 to 29 August – is set to be the most ambitious yet, serving up a total of 12 movies.
Leading the line-up is J J Abrams’ latest instalment of the epic Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Set 30 years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, Luke Skywalker has disappeared and a sinister new threat has emerged in the shape of the First Order. It’s up to General Leia Organa to lead a resistance, but can she find her brother Luke and get his help restoring peace and justice to the galaxy?
Also showing will be stone-cold 80s classic Top Gun, the film that made a young Tom Cruise a household name and which has lost none of its turbo-charged appeal. (PS. the aerial combat scenes still look as awesome as they ever did).
The new version of the The Jungle Book, one of the standout films of 2016 so far, is also on the billing – promising to be a great option for any film-lovers with little ones in tow. A visually spectacular revival of the Disney favourite, it blends live-action with hyper-realistic CGI for a completely fresh take on one of the world’s favourite childhood stories.
Another for families, Disney animation Zootropolis will bring its colourful city of anthropomorphic animals to the meadows, including a lovable bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox.
Love & Friendship, meanwhile, offers a witty adaptation of the Jane Austen novella Lady Susan, starring heavyweights Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny, as well as British national treasure Stephen Fry.
A release from last year, The Lady in the Van sees Maggie Smith as an eccentric leading lady who forms an unlikely bond with the owner of the house whose driveway she’s taken up residence in. Also announced for a screening is Akenfield, Sir Peter Hall’s classic depiction of rural Suffolk life which has become something of a cult classic since its original release back in 1974.
“The Movies on the Meadows weekend has always been incredibly popular, so obviously we are really excited to be bringing such huge titles to Grantchester this year,” says Cambridge Film Festival marketing manager, Owen Baker. “There really is something for everyone, with a great mix of films. Star Wars will look absolutely amazing on the biggest screen and under the stars, and I personally can’t wait to see The Jungle Book in such an amazing outdoor setting.”
For the full line-up and to purchase tickets, visit the Cambridge Film Festival website.