Mamma Mia! indeed

Date January 24, 2010 | Map

Right. Why was I here in the middle of a wig-wearing, spandex-clad and female-dominated gathering of Abba fans? Ah yes, free tickets, always a good excuse. And the spectacle factor of seeing a movie on the largest flown projection screen to date. And the general experience of being inside The O2 arena. And the fun aspect of observing fancy-dressed people in party mode. And a show that I have not yet seen in its movie version (yes, I’ve been to the West End Show). And ok, I admit, I like Abba, but what’s not to like?

Mamma Mia! Screening Ticket

Mamma Mia! Screening Ticket

A film screening for an audience of 12,000 people was the plan. But Abba may be popular, yet not popular enough to fill two one-time screenings this Sunday. The balcony was not even open, and probably only a bit more than half of all available seats were occupied, with the central arena being not only busiest, but also in the best party mood. The high number of empty seats was very fortunate for us, because our allocated seats high up at the side may have been ok due to the good design of the arena, but they were not brilliant and would have caused stiff necks. So we secretly relocated to the back and further down and thus had a brilliant full-frontal view of the giant screen.

Watching a movie on such a large screen in such a large hall is a fascinating experience on its own. It is not without difficulties, as lip synchronicity cannot be sustained because of the sheer distance the sound has to travel. Also, I was initially worried about the volume level: would it be too low and not cover the murmur of a few thousand people, or would it be too high and induce an uncomfortable ringing in sensitive ears? Well, the sound crew did a fantastic job: it was definitely loud, yet still very much within comfort levels.

The show started with a short performance of the West End cast of Mamma Mia! the musical. That was the moment when we realised how far the distance between us and the stage was: the performers were tiny; impossible to see their faces. So even more kudos to the event crew for building this massive screen: the on-screen faces were giganormous.

The movie itself, well, you don’t watch it for the storyline. It is a highly energetic sequence of Abba hits that entertains you throughout, almost without any chance to catch your breath. And you wouldn’t have any breath if you were singing along, as many of the people around us were. Quite interesting to observe the young woman two rows in front of us who appeared to be slightly embarrassed by the over-enthusiastic behaviour of her two companions, probably her mother and her aunt, who both were moving, singing and dancing enthusiastically, though thankfully celebrating their enthusiasm with their bottoms still resting on the seats. The central area was a different matter; the fancy-dressed crowd over there seemed to have the party of parties.

And even though the two of us probably came across as boring, being dressed normally and not throwing our arms around mindlessly at every new song, we had our fun and immensely enjoyed the experience. And I am happy to admit again that I do like these songs, though my Abba copies have not made the transition into the digital world and slowly lose magnetism on some old MC tapes. But should I ever have an acute need for an acoustic Abba injection, I am sure that some of my friends will have Mamma Mia! on DVD.

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