Projecting "Out of Africa" at 140 Amperes
Miscellaneous notes from Open-Air 70MM Movie Magic at Rungstedlund
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and photographed by:
Thomas Hauerslev, open air
watts of light beamed through the cold night air at 140 amperes.
midnight between Friday and Saturday on the 22. August 2014, the last reel
of "Out of Afrika" ran out of the Philips DP75 projector. About 100 cinema guests had witnessed
another 70mm screening of this Oscar-winning film, and now they could all go
home again, with their umbrellas, blankets and chairs.
The film was
presented in 70mm by The Rungstedlund Foundation, on the lawn
of the former home of author Karen
Blixen (Pen name Isak Dinesen). Rungstedlund had been the home of the world famous Danish author,
and "Out of Africa" tells the story of her years in Kenya.
Rungstedlund, a mere 24 Km (15 miles) north of central Copenhagen, is now the Karen Blixen Museum, and it opened to the public in 1991,
thanks to the success of "Out of Africa". Karen Blixen lived and
worked at Rungstedlund, and her home has been preserved since her death in
About 100 people defied the elements of nature and showed up for the 21:00
show. Many enjoyed food and the lovely beer from Bornholm in the café before
the show. An appropriate large format rain fall appeared around
18:30, and lasted for about 30 minutes. After that, it mostly kept dry until
the film ended at midnight. The museum had prepared for this and hired a
tent, large enough to seat at least 70 people in the event of rain. United
International Pictures' Michael Berg had approved the screening.
It went dark around 20:45, and just before the last rays of daylight
disappeared, a few minutes before 21, the manager of the museum welcomed
everyone. I dimmed the light on the screen after her intro, and started the
70mm projector. Orla took care of the take-up reel on the tower and made
sure the film didn't go on the truck floor. His DP75 has a very fast start
up curve, so you have to pay close attention to the take-up reel. The film began and John
Barry's music and Meryl Steeps voice, with her funny accent pretending to be
Danish, filled the night. The DP75 projector was ticking away into the
slightly cold night air. Bright big pictures with the silhouettes of the
trees and deep blue sky behind it. Pure movie magic.
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big pictures with the silhouettes of the trees and deep blue sky behind it.
Pure movie magic.
Like previous times of Open-Air 70mm cinema in Denmark, it was Orla Nielsen,
from the Biffen in Aalborg, who was hired
to run the show. With good reason: he has the 70mm projector and the sound
equipment to do it. Nobody else has equipment like this. Since we did not
have a platter system to run the film, we had a few extra short
intermissions between reel changes. Orla uses a Philips DP75 projector and a
Dolby CP65 sound processor. The DP75 has been cut down to a minimum size,
repainted and placed on a pedestal with wheels and room enough to
accommodate the rectifier below the projector.
I arrived 3 hours before the show with a 99mm ISCO Ultra Star in my bag. It
turned out that Orla needed a lens at around 100mm to fill the screen. Orla
called me on Thursday to ask I could please bring it with me. Both Orla and
I enjoyed the thought, that this particular lens was brought out of
retirement to show 70mm again. We toasted to that with two Christmas beers
which had expired a few weeks earlier (and were now becoming an Ale). The
lens had come from the Imperial Bio in Copenhagen, where the last 70mm film shown
with this lens had been
"The Master" in 2013. The Imperial was rebuilt in the fall of 2013
to accommodate a larger screen, at which time this lens became an incorrect
and Hardy of 70mm", Orla and Thomas in full swing with 70mm presentation.
I met Orla in 1986 when I was showing "Out of Africa" in 70mm. We have gone
full circle since (several times) presenting this film together.
Mr. Jesper Meng installed the screen. Jesper has several screen rigs like
this, which are all in high demand during the summer season, when Jesper's
company services open-air film screenings all over Denmark. His big truck is
even installed with two beds for the projectionists. Any open-air, or
temporary film screening like this, requires a lot of work to prepare. Find
the projector, sound and light equipment and move all of it into a truck,
complete with reels, rectifiers, towers, an assortment of different lenses
etc. And then drive the truck 400 km across the country to set it all up the
day before the show. It's basically a true ROAD SHOW.
Nearly 3 hours later the film ended, and it had hardly rained at all. A few
rain drops, a little moist in the air and some 5 m/s winds from south west
during the night, made the light beam from the projector look very
impressive from time to time. We had a proper intermission about an hour
after the start for people to buy hot drinks at the café. At midnight we
closed the dowser for the last time and people went home. I took the ISCO
out, and we closed the truck for the night. Orla went to sleep in his de-luxe
truck suite, and I went back to Copenhagen after another unforgettable
evening with 70mm.
It might have been easier to do it with a DCP or a BluRay? Orla and I like to
show 70mm like this. We prefer to do it with the authentic 70mm print from
1986. It's an analogue experience with reels to carry, lenses to focus,
buttons to push and dowsers to pull. It's large format 70mm film and the
audience sits right in front of you and can hear the film-loops making their
characteristic projector noise. It's very "reel" and authentic, and not as
sterile as modern cinema has become. The audience can see what you are doing
and what they are paying for. This is real people behind the projector. It's
a unique experience.
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