The Shape of Water holds court at Luna Cinema

HAMPTON COURT PALACE has seen it all. Henry VIII. The death of Jane Seymour. Mary I’s honeymoon and phantom pregnancies … But what about a love affair between a woman and a humanoid amphibian?

Invited by Luna Cinema to review their outdoor screening of The Shape of Water, Glass settled down on the landscaped Tudor lawns to watch the most curious of love stories. The doors opened 90 minutes before the screening, leaving us ample time to roam the grounds and admire the sun-soaked palace. There was a general hush of awe among our fellow cinema-goers as we wandered through the magnificent carriage way and rose gardens before parking ourselves in front of the big screen, surrounded by gorgeous manicured trees. It was difficult deciding whether to concentrate on the screen, or on the magnificent red-brick building behind it.

A different kind of stargazing

However, the hushed reverence didn’t last long as everyone starting cracking open their home-packed picnic hampers, ranging from Ascot-worthy Fortnum & Mason champagne affairs to more humble home-made sandwiches. For the less prepared, Luna  offered a fantastic stone-baked pizza van and drinks shack behind the trees. The air of festivity was also helped by the Estrella team, who delivered ice-cold beer to anyone waving one of their red flags – helpful for those who had firmly committed to their patch .

By the time the movie started, the sun was just beginning to set, adding a romantic glow to the proceedings. The film was a technicolour dream, an instant classic by the cult filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. Set during the Cold War, it follows the struggle of a mute worker (the brilliant Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a mysterious amphibian-like creature, an experiment at a high-level US government lab. While high concept, the movie’s plucky heroine, wise-cracking sidekicks and clear-cast villain also made it an easy crowdpleaser, bringing the audience together in ripples of laughter – the perfect choice for a Luna event. However, the stars of the show are the trademark fantasy elements of del Toro, and the cinematography on and off the screen.  Bathed in jewel-like saturated hues, the film’s fantasy played out perfectly against the sunset, and then the starry night sky. Even the occasional passing plane from Heathrow couldn’t break the spell. After all, you’re basically in Henry VIII’s private cinema …

Many monarchs have reigned at Hampton Court Palace, but on this balmy summer night, it was most definitely the turn of del Toro. A highly recommended film experience, and a true dose of movie magic.

by Lucy Wai

Available at various locations –  screenings until  October 7



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