Driving up to the picturesque Kirstenbosch Gardens on a summer’s evening in anticipation for the opening of The Galileo Open Air Cinema, is already a handsome treat as the evening sun lowers behind the mountains. Everyone seems relaxed, dressed comfortably and warm as we make our way to the gates, opened at 6pm. The soft and romantic atmosphere is definitely not what one would find in the average mall cinema around the corner.
The Galileo Open Air Cinema has taken the pop-up experience to a whole new realm. It’s a lot like a drive-in, minus the cars. It delivers a night-picnic experience with a good film to watch, where you can actually feel the summer breeze brush against your cheeks and might even have to stuff a serviette at the top of your can of Coke, just in case a six-legged creature decides to take a dive in it. But that all forms part of the tranquil outdoor experience.
The market vibe, prior to the start of the film, is a great place to meet new people and of course to gather your food and drinks. On the menu is a variety of food from delicious plates of chicken and nachos (my pick for the evening), to burgers, pizza, popcorn and craft beer.
Movies only start after dark which means there’s plenty of time for chatting, relaxing and enjoying the sunset – a good reason to arrive early. While you’re waiting, it’s best to get something to eat or to use the bathroom beforehand. Finding your way to the stalls or toilet in the dark is a colossal struggle, especially once you’re already in a snug position against your back-rest and cocooned in a warm blanket that are both up for hire at the gates when you arrive. I highly recommend you do all this before the start of the film as the only light you’ll have is the light from the screen and the moonlight.
The issue of seating and space isn’t at all an issue. You get to place yourself anywhere you please in this unreserved first-come-first-serve setting. The area and size of the screen compliment each other well enough to make sure that everyone has the best seat in the house. But if you are arriving in a large group of friends, you may want to arrive early to make sure you’re seated together.
On the night I went, I watched a film I had seen several times before- Moulin Rouge!. I was doubtful if I would actually enjoy it after having already seen it but I did. Thoroughly. I believe it had to do with experiencing film so differently. The combination of our innate awe of nature and the man-made love for films somehow fits perfectly in the form of The Galileo Open Air Cinema.
This review of The Galileo Open Air Cinema Kirstenbosch is for the 2014-2015 season.
The Galileo open Air Cinema takes place at Kirstenbosch, V&A Waterfront and Hillcrest Quarry.