Underground Cinema: La Guerre

The urgent télégramme stated, Vive La Résistance, an invitation by Underground Cinema to time travel to the 1940s, into the midst of World War II and be immersed in a unique secret cinema live experience. But Shhh… c’est un secret… The location was a secret, the dress code was the best of 1940s and the instructions were to bring something to trade.

Two days prior to the event, the location was revealed and it was time to dust off my uncle’s French air force uniform and proudly wear it for the first time.

La guerre… 1940s… a movie. I expected a French war movie with subtitles but…

Bonsoir madame was echoed by fez-wearing folk as I arrived at the secret location. Do you have an invitation? Quizzical looks fluttered by. I am taken aside, and slipped a piece of paper with my name, Madame Corinne handwritten rather quickly. I turn it over. “You are to meet Monsieur Ugarte at the Blue Parrot at 7.55pm sharp”. Whispered instructions tell me not to be late.

Men in various military uniforms parade past and give me a nod. At the Palais de Justice, a rather handsome gendarme is questioning civilians or is he being questioned. The Blue Parrot café is full of patrons smoking double pomme shisha. The aroma is as seductive as the sultry sounds of the beautiful singer. Further ahead, at Masseur Zahra’s Fine Jewellery shop, there is bartering to be made, and at Madame Josephine, a belly dancer shimmies to traditional Arabic drums.

It’s 7.55pm and I stroll to the Blue Parrot asking for Monsieur Ugarte. Looking for someone? I nod. I am told that I will recognise him by his smell. Glances point towards a seedy looking small man in a white hat. He takes me inside a secret den and speaks in tongues. I am to give him my food rations in exchange for information about my transit papers. Do I trust him? He tells me to meet Captain Tennille at Café Americain at 9 pm sharp then disappears.

Back amongst the crowd, the shisha smoking folk are sipping on a rather peculiar spirit in a porcelain tea cup. Street vendors are tempting with food and drink offerings. Do you know where you are, madame? I am asked by a handsome stranger. Where is here

The siren sounds, the whistles are blown and the crowd is marched to the second secret location, zigzagging around the streets in the cold, huddled together in safety. At Rick’s Café Americain, live musicians fill the night air with familiar tunes. I check my watch and search for Captain Tennille. Non madame, you have been lied to. I have no papers to give you, he shrugs and walks away. I am indeed sans papiers and stuck here. Time for a drink at the bar and not before long, the experience comes to an end with the final song… As Time Goes By. 

And the film begins.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

Underground Cinema is a secret live immersive film screening event like no other. Who are the actors and who is acting along, that remains uncertain. The lines become blurred and you could easily find yourself as one of the characters in the story. Unmissable.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.