Restoration & New Print of "Honeymoon"
The 70mm Newsletter
by: Charles Doble
Charles Doble, "Honeymoon"'s restorer, in Bradford, March 2008. Image by
"Honeymoon" is a film which has matured. A film which is only being
appreciated some 40 years after it was originally made and for reasons
completely unforeseen by its creator, our unsurpassed British director
Often dismissed as "a Spanish travelogue with frenetic music and
dancing" such words completely fail to understand or appreciate this
The storyline is best summed up in this release, published at the time
"Ludmila Tcherina and Anthony Steel are on a fabulous honeymoon in sunny
Spain. They are rich. They are happy. And then they meet the fiery
Spanish dancer Antonio...
When Antonio discovers the bride is a prima ballerina who has given up
her career for marriage, he refuses to rest until he has persuaded her
to dance again - as his partner.
Wherever they drive in their gleaming silver convertible, they run into
Antonio. On the road outside Santiago; in a fashionable bar in Madrid;
at the caves of Grenada.
Antonio conducts a captivating campaign. He persuades her to dance with
him in his studio. He tempts her with his dancing feet; he lures her on
with his mischievous eyes. He breathes into her ear that only she can
dance the leading role in his latest production. He ignores the jealous
When the three meet in Madrid for the last time Antonio has apparently
called off his campaign. Everything it seems, will be back to normal.
The honeymooners are free to continue their world cruise.
But there's still a twinkle in Antonio's eyes. For he is about to go
with his dance company...on a world tour!"
in 70mm reading:
To Split or not to
Split ... That is the Hollywood Question!
Widescreen Weekend 2008
from Belgium. Note Technirama logo lower left corner
As with all of Michael Powell's films, these few sentences belie what he
is saying to us on a deeper and more surreal level.
The film recounts experiences that are common to many of us. The
emotional love and attraction which we, as participants, are often
helpless to control and which time and circumstances cannot dim. On the
other hand, there is love that brings two people together and yet which
quickly withers into a mutual and stoical acceptance of the relationship
which becomes devoid of passion and emotion, this void being filled with
regret and recrimination.
Such is it with Kit and Anna. This mutual indifference is mirrored by
the outpouring of passion, albeit constrained, which Antonio and Anna
share. Blissfully, as in the ballet sequence in the Alhambra, and with
increasing darkening overtones where Antonio and Rosita dance to a
listening Kit and Anna in De Falla's El Amor Brujo, to the nightmarish
finale as Anna struggles with her hopeless emotional difficulties.
The film ends with the whole situation clearly not resolved. Antonio has
still not given up (planning his world tour to include Australia) and
just look at Anna's parting eye contact as the film ends.
How was the film conceived?
If we go back to Britain of the late 1950s it was a time which saw the
dawning of Spain as a popular overseas destination and the birth of the
"package holiday". It was also a time where Flamenco dancing and, above
all, the talents of Antonio and his company were rapturously received in
London and the provinces.
After one of these performances, happily, Micky and Antonio were to
meet. Antonio at once recognised Michael Powell as the creator of The
Red Shoes, a film, and whose main participant, Moira Shearer, were
rapturously received by Antonio in equal part.
He begged Michael Powell to create a film for him and Moira Shearer.
Antonio was not only one of the finest exponents of Flamenco but also a
visionary creator of some outstanding contemporary Spanish works of
dance and ballet.
A plan and a plot was conceived. Financing was agreed with Suevia Films
(one of Spain's most outstanding post-war film production companies).
Michael Powell got together many of his usual pals and, at the same
time, displayed his remarkable vision of gathering together talent which
at the time were new and relatively unheard of but who were to become
highly regarded down the years.
In actual fact, the plot was to some extent "fitted around" Antonio's
existing routine. He, Rosita Segovia and his dancers had many times
performed El Amor Brujo worldwide and his Zapeteado with music by
Sarasate was regularly on his repertoire.
The incorporation of the legend of the Lovers of Teruel was an idea that
came originally from Ludmila Tcherina who had visited Teruel when in
Spain making a film version of Wagner's Parsifal a few years before. The
Lovers of Teruel Ballet was to be a feature film made by Ludmila
Tcherina and her husband, Raymond Roi, with Raymond Rouleau in the early
1960s with music by Mikis Theodorakis. A rare film now but one which
will at least be saved from oblivion and possibly destruction as I am
currently working on a restoration.
"Honeymoon" represents the last of Michael Powell's "total" films. The
other three being "The Red Shoes", "The Tales of Hoffmann" and
Rosalinda!!" Films which combine acting, drama, dialogue, music and dance
so imaginatively and so brilliantly.
The making of the film
faded ARC-120 35mm frame. Note the two opposite stacked images.
The making of the film proved a challenge for Micky. In fact it was
almost a bridge too far.
He found that even he was unable to persuade his Spanish collaborators
to become "sympatico" with his way of working and, for his part, he
found them bewildering.
For instance, only into the second day of shooting in the Suevia studios
outside Madrid he was deeply upset by the electrocution of one of the
lighting crew way up above the set. Shooting was delayed for a day while
a priest was found to give the last rights before the body could be
The Spanish production team just did not understand Michael Powell's way
of working and problems multiplied, both on an emotional and financial
In the end it was a question of just "getting the film finished and onto
the screen" and this shows in the editing, dubbing and camera work. Such
were the problems that George Minassian was sent back to Spain with
little more than a camera and the bonnet of a Bentley which he strapped
to an old truck and drove around the northern coast route near Vigo to
obtain extra footage for the opening sequence!
As if all those problems weren't enough, the film was breaking new
ground technically. It was originally produced in stereo; a four track
magnetic version. Visually, it was released in both Wonderama and
Technirama. These were very new processes. One of these was an attempt
to get over the problems of loss of focus where projection was onto
large curved screens. This involved a complicated and heavy series of
lenses mounted on the front of the 35mm projector. Each cell of the film
was divided vertically into two halves. From a projection point of view
it was a nightmare to get the two halves to meet seamlessly in the
centre of the screen and at the same time, even with the largest
projectors, the colossally heavy adaptor for the
ARC 120 process caused
uncontrollable picture shake.
The film's distribution was fairly half-hearted and was only ever
released in the United States as a television product in 1966. In the UK
it was rapidly cut, re-cut and then cut again. A version was produced
entitled "Dancing in the Sun" for the Children's Matinee Society and the
film then quickly returned to sleep in the vaults.
re-composed in Photoshop.
In February 2000 its slumbers were rudely disturbed by Charles Doble. I
had long enjoyed and appreciated the films of Michael Powell and was
lucky enough to have been a friend of his in the 1960s and 70s.
I was also frustrated that no version of "Honeymoon", apart from a few
poor videos, were available commercially.
With superb assistance and cooperation with Canal+ (owners of the rights
and original material) a restoration process was embarked upon.
It was found that the only "long" version which survived in any form,
either original, negative, internegative or YCM interpositive, was the
Thankfully, the greatest cuts had been made from the two dance sequences
El Amor Brujo and "The Lovers of Teruel" ballet. It therefore presented
no particular problem (apart from huge expense) to produce new internegs
and then prints of these two sections of the film.
the same scene as above as seen in the restored film.
The Spanish long version was run concurrently with the longest of the
short British versions to discover what other cuts had been made. The
only other significant cut was in Antonio's dance studio where he
explains the story of The Lovers of Teruel Ballet to Ludmila.
I decided to include this in its original Spanish form (there being no
British footage), owing to the fact that we urgently need to complete
the project for the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain. Since there
was so much Spanish dialogue already in the film and since it was going
to be presented to a Spanish audience, we used this as the justification
for its inclusion. However, it is the intention that this section will
be dubbed and Ludmila is enthusiastically doing this at this very moment
and it is intended to use a third party for Antonio's voice as he sadly
died some years ago.
I am also completing a Spanish restored version for the Filmoteca
Espagnola which will be available later on in the year.
It is remarkable how much material has survived; both the original
Wonderama and Technirama prints and negatives (the prints having turned
to a "claret" shade of pink), all the original stereo magnetic track
negs and, interestingly, many original outtakes not ever included in the
Needless to say, the music of De Falla, Mikis Theodorakis and Sarasate
is another reason why this film is appreciated by film going audiences
who may not have even heard of Michael Powell. The Honeymoon Song was
subsequently recorded by The Beatles and, apparently, is one of Paul
I started this critique by saying that "Honeymoon" was a film which has
matured in a way that its original maker could not have foreseen; unlike
some of Michael Powell's films, "Honeymoon" has an audience far wider than
his aficionados. In fact, probably far greater.
The huge talent of Ludmila Tcherina and her sheer scale of work is
appreciated by lovers of ballet worldwide. At the same time, Antonio, a
legend in his own lifetime, has a following worldwide. So many young
people are coming into and appreciating the world of Flamenco and the
world of Flamenco is Antonio. Very little footage survives of his
performances which took place in the 1950s at the height of his powers.
The same may be said to be true of Leonide Massine who choreographed
many of the dance scenes and whose remarkable performance as the spectre
in Les Amants Brujo is a memorable one. "Honeymoon" is therefore a rare
opportunity to feast upon not just a cameo performance by these two
artists but over 100 minutes worth. At the same time the music of De Falla, Mikis Theodorakis and Sarasate is unforgetable.
"Honeymoon" presents the viewer with a rich and exotic diet of music and
dance... And yes, the Spanish countryside is rather good as well!
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