Monday, 16 March 2009

London's Movieum: Disappointing

My Mum and I visited the horribly-named The Movieum last week. I had been forewarned by people at work that it wasn't a great example of London's wealth of world-class museum spaces.

But it was starting to rain, we'd just done the London Bridge to Waterloo Walk, and I remembered that there was a display of Beatles photos by the Getty people on show (just the kind of thing that Mum would like), so we decided to give it a go.

After chatting up the man at the front desk (explaining that we only really wanted to see The Beatles stuff, not the rest of the grinds-teeth-at-the-terrible-name "Movieum"), he gave us concessions. So, instead of it being £17, it was a tenner each. (But Mum would've had a concession anyway... but... blah, it's what he offered us.)

The Beatles photos were fun. The usual Getty stuff; things you haven't seen before, huge, blown-up, classy, black-and-white shots in plain frames, with tiny nuggets of interesting info by the sides. Getty, increasingly, do this kind of thing rather well. Although I always feel, if you're having to pay for it, it's a bit like money for old rope: they already own the pictures, they're very cheap to reproduce, your money's just making someone rich richer.

But of course, the subject of The Beatles, those ordinary boys being extraordinarily famous, going from ordinary to nuts while in extraordinary circumstances on tour is a compelling one. Although it was almost ruined by the continual, play-it-until-you-go-crazy, sound of Hard Day's Night being played on a loop every four minutes. It must drive the people who work there to distraction.

From there, we went around the rest of The Movieum (gah, it isn't getting any easier). It's a labyrinth of corridors, doors, small spaces and odd exhibits. The sheer scale of the space is surprising. Especially condsidering they don't seem to have that much to show.

We wandered the corridors, stopping to read typo-ridden factoids about various stars, from Keira Knightley to Orson Wells (the sort of thing you can read every day on IMDB) and looking for something else to look at.

The Period Dramas room caught our eye (of course.) But all I can remember from it is a spear from Zulu (never seen it), a tiger skin(?) and a costume worn by Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator. Not terribly impressive. It was the same in each of these little rooms. A few unimpressive pieces of tat that was once used on a film set, a speaker in the corner playing something vagely associated with the genre, but the words were mainly incomprehensible, and that was it.

We did like watching / listening to a piece on Pinewood (where my bro got married a couple of years ago) in a corridor dedicated to British movie making, but the vid was the sort of thing you should be able to see on YouTube whenever you want. It shouldn't cost you £17.

I wonder if movie buffs totally love the place? I wonder if people who are into the sci fi, the monsters, the daleks you can see there think that this is London's greatest attraction.

To me, it just felt like another of those Madame Tussauds places. You wander around going, "Oh, look, it's... blah" and don't make any connection, learn anything, or feel any sense of satisfaction beyond the simple warmth of momentary recognition.

The Movieum: it's the Alistair McGowan's Big Impression / Dead Ringers / I Love 1994 of museums.

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