10 Classic Films You Must See When UK Cinemas Reopen

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After months of waiting, cinemas in the UK are finally set to reopen from 4 July, with major multiplex chains Vue and Cineworld returning from 10 July.

With so few new releases on the roster, however, cinemas have been given a roster of 450 classic films to show audiences when things get started again.

So, what films can you see in UK cinemas this July? And what are the classic films you need to watch at the pictures this summer?


Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)

You might have seen Lawrence Of Arabia on VHS, DVD or terrestrial television at Christmas, but watching this classic of British cinema on the big screen is a whole different experience.

David Lean’s legendary war epic is famed for its spectacular visuals and grand scale, and seeing Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence traverse the Arabian desert on the silver screen is all the more awe-inspiring.

The famous ‘matchstick cut’ is a breathless moment on the big screen, while bathing in the film’s soaring and theatrical style is an experience like no other. It’s a great movie on any screen, but on the biggest of all, Lawrence Of Arabia is a true classic.


The Lego Movie (2014)

British kids will be itching to go back to the cinema more than anyone else, and while we have to wait a few weeks for the first wide family release (Disney’s Mulan on July 24), one of the best animated films of the last decade will be screening all across the country.

Not only a bright, energetic and zany joy for younger viewers, The Lego Movie is an imaginative, witty and surprisingly heartfelt film that has the potential to really touch adults too.

Complete with a frenetic pace, gorgeous animation, big laughs throughout and an all-star voice cast, going to see The Lego Movie might just be the most enjoyable way to mark your return to the cinema.


The Shining (1980)

If you think The Shining is a disturbing watch at home, can you imagine how intense it would be at the cinema? For those of us who weren’t around in the early 1980s, this could be the chance to experience Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror like never before.

A long, long watch that delivers piercingly scary thrills and deeply unsettling drama throughout, The Shining is the sumptuous cinematic experience, blending grand, spectacular production and visuals with terrifying claustrophobia and tension.

Watching Jack Nicholson beat down the door with an axe alongside fellow terrified cinemagoers, or witnessing the horror of the film’s climactic chase sequence in a darkened, moody room has the potential to bring so much more to this legendary film.


Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2019)

It may not be an all-time classic just yet, but the return of UK cinemas in July is giving you a unique opportunity to catch one of the best (and most overlooked) films of last year.

CĂ©line Sciamma’s gorgeous romantic drama Portrait Of A Lady On Fire is everything on the big screen. A passionate, powerful and visually stunning piece of work that requires commitment from the start, yet pays handsomely come the finish.

It is a slow-burner, but develops into an utterly thrilling, mesmerising watch as we follow a tumultuous romance on an isolated, windswept French isle. So, while you may not gravitate towards it while flicking through Netflix at home, go and see Portrait Of A Lady On Fire on the big screen for an experience like no other.


Roman Holiday (1953)

When else do you have the chance to watch some of cinema’s most beloved golden oldies on the big screen? If you’ve never done so, this is the time, and the delightful romantic comedy Roman Holiday is the best film to choose.

The breakthrough film for Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn, and starring the ever-wonderful Gregory Peck, the film follows an adventurous young princess and a journalist as they travel around Rome on one sun-baked afternoon.

Sweet, cheeky and so, so funny, Roman Holiday is a classic comedy that stands up to this day, while its delightful performances and beautiful setting make it the perfect film to experience on the big screen. If you’ve always wanted to see a classic movie at the cinema, this is your chance – check out Roman Holiday.


The Handmaiden (2016)

South Korea’s Best Picture winner Parasite made headlines around the world earlier this year, but The Handmaiden, from acclaimed director Park Chan-wook, is even better.

A dizzying tale of deceit and passion, the film tells the story of a lowly handmaiden who enters the house of a wealthy heiress in colonial-era Korea, only for their relationship to take turns you would never expect.

It’s a long, intense watch – the sort of film that will have you glued to your seat in excitement. But with staggering twists and turns, beautiful visuals and a story of psychotic proportions, The Handmaiden is a must-see for any and all film lovers, and on the big screen – it’s a spectacle like no other.


The Dark Knight (2008)

Set to undoubtedly be one of the most popular classic films on show in cinemas when they reopen, Christopher Nolan’s near-perfect comic book thriller The Dark Knight is the film to see if you’ve long missed the multiplex experience.

A fantastic movie that not only breathes new life into Batman, but provides thrills and drama on a gritty, realistic level that today’s Marvel and DC universe movies struggle to deliver, The Dark Knight is widely known as one of the best films of all time, and that’s why audiences will be flocking to see it again this summer.

If you’ve missed the atmosphere of excitement surrounded by a passionate, energetic crowd at the movies, then this is the film to revive that feeling. There may be less people in each auditorium with social distancing rules in place, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience that classic movie theatre feeling once again.


It Happened One Night (1934)

Why not journey back in time to the earliest days of Hollywood? It Happened One Night was the first film to win the ‘Big Five’ at the Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay), and its legacy stands strong to this day.

A delightful and hilarious romantic comedy that stars Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert as a runaway heiress and a journalist (a similar setup to Roman Holiday), It Happened One Night is frenzied, lively and endlessly funny film that even the strongest cynics of black-and-white cinema won’t fail to love.

What’s more, it’s one of the most famous ‘Pre-Code’ films of all time – made before Hollywood imposed strict moral restrictions on the content of films. So, seeing It Happened One Night won’t just be a fun time at the movies, but it has the potential to change your outlook on how cinema was way back when.


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The visual effects-heavy blockbusters of the modern day dominate cinemas year in and year out, but in terms of classic visual spectacles, there are few greater than Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Seeing the legendary space opera on your TV or laptop at home doesn’t even begin to compare with the majesty of the film on the big screen, with its sprawling vistas of outer space, devastating claustrophobia, hypnotic illusions and soaring musical score taking on another level of spectacle at the theatre.

2001 is without doubt a challenging watch. It’s long, slow and very abstract at times, but it’s a classic of modern cinema, a sci-fi masterpiece that remains to this day a powerful vision of the future. So, if it’s the sort of film that you’ve never quite had the courage to watch at home, go and see it at the cinema: you won’t regret it.


Inception (2010)

Ten years on from its original release, Christopher Nolan’s Inception is getting a wide re-release this summer, and will likely be screening in pretty much every cinema up and down the UK. So, for a film to enjoy with friends, a packed audience, or even on your own, it’s a surefire hit.

Inception made waves around the world in 2010 when it was released to staggered and enormously confused audiences, but its legacy has only strengthened over the last decade, standing as the magnum opus of director Christopher Nolan’s filmography.

Now, with Nolan’s newest film Tenet set to premiere in cinemas on 31 July, Inception gives audiences the perfect opportunity to gear up for what could be not just one of the best movies of the year, but an all-time classic. Inception is an incredible film that demands another big-screen viewing, but it’s the perfect way to reintroduce yourself to the world of the movie theatre before new releases start hitting screens at the end of next month.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com