What 7OMM is to Johan Wolthuis
Johan Wolthuis of The Netherlands
interviewed during the Todd-AO Festival, 2016
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The 70mm Newsletter
Thomas Hauerslev. Retyped
from audio files by Margaret Weedon and Mark Lyndon.
C. M. Wolthuis as many people know him. His vintage Todd-AO scrap books on display
and selling 70mm-fan books. Picture by Thomas Hauerslev
Johann Wolthuis (1940) has been crucially instrumental in reviving
world wide interest in 70mm. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that there
might not have been the same level of awareness and appreciation of the 70mm
format without his tireless dedication, advocacy and enthusiasm, which goes
back for over three decades. We who love 70mm and see it as the greatest and
grandest medium for the moving image of them all, owe him a great deal. He
speaks most eloquently for us all. And not from Holland!!!
Thomas: In 1988 you started as
secretary of the International 70mm
Association; a long time has passed and I have
before so this is a follow up and I only have a few questions for you:
So I would I would like to know your opinion of the current status of 65mm
films. Since our first
interview 20 years ago, we have seen
“Hamlet” we have seen
“Samsara” we have
seen “The Master”,
“The Hateful 8”
and several films in
IMAX, which are beginning to show in 70mm cinemas. What
do you think about that?
Johan: In my opinion,
IMAX is a beautiful thing but it does not match the
70mm normal sized 5
perforations 70mm – and especially when I saw Quentin Tarantino’s “The
Hateful 8” the first part – it was wonderful. It was
Ultra-Panavision, bright, and that is what is lacking in IMAX; it is too
square despite it’s a beautiful thing. When we were together making that
promotion tour, I
had expected that something would happen, but nothing happened, and it was a
pity. And in 1994 “Far
and Away” came and was released and I was thinking that something
would happen, but nothing happened after that.
|More in 70mm reading:|
Johan Says Goodbye
as Editor of The 70mm Newsletter
Promotion Tour 1994 Part #1
Promotion Tour 1994, part #2
Widescreen History -
A New book about wide screen from International 70mm Publishers
Member Johan Wolthuis (The Netherlands)
The Golden Elephant Award
C. M. Wolthuis being interviewed by the author on the first row at the
Schauburg Cinerama. Picture by Orla Nielsen
TH - what do you think of the films that they are making now - it is not big
commercial films – it is art movies – like “The Master” – “The
Hateful 8” and “Samsara” – it is not commercial films like we
know it. It is artist’s films.
JW – yes, but the art films from the 50s and 60s were quite different from
what they are making now – it is all action and computer generated tricks,
TH – yes, but what do you think of the current
films made in 70mm?
JW – I had a little hope that it would continue because before it was only
digital and it looks like the 35mm and 70mm are disappearing, but then I
hear that Woody Allen would always use 35mm and Christopher Nolan is also a
fan, and Quentin Tarantino. I hope that there will be more directors who
will say "Hey that is a good idea to make a film in 70mm" – a good film!
TH – yes but what do you think of "The Master" for example?
JW – I did not like “The Master” because it was not real 70mm, it was
made on 65mm – it was not the normal scope of the 70mm film. So I did not
like that at all. That is what I liked with “The Hateful 8” from the
beginning it was a bright image and a beautiful image – like you used to see
on 70mm in the 50s and 60s and 70s.
my opinion, IMAX is a beautiful thing but it does not match the 70mm normal
sized 5 perforations 70mm".
Picture by Orla Nielsen
TH – you already answered this a little bit – but in what way does the new
films live up to your expectations – if at all?
JW – now I am awaiting for
“Dunkirk” because that is less computer tricks and more photography
with real 65mm cameras – although I could not hear which part was in 65mm
and which was in IMAX – that was a pity; you will see that. But this is not
what I expect, I hope that there will be another project next year or in the
coming months when some director thinks "Hey – let us make a movie with a
real good story" and I think that Quentin Tarantino was on the right way but
I think his kind of film is quite different from a good story despite the
first half was a good story and then it continued with a lot of violence as
I said before. But it still gives me some hope and it is important that they
save the Kodak laboratory in Los Angeles or in New York; and I think now
that Kodak is looking in Europe for a laboratory for 70mm. So that gives
hope that – next to digital releases – there will also be releases in 70mm.
That is what it looks like; the way it is going.
TH – what do you think about the latest story
that will come out in 65mm –
"Vox Lux" - have you heard about that?
JW – No, I have not – I saw the name but I do not know what the content is –
so maybe you can tell me something more.
TH – I do not know much about it
JW – I was amazed that you knew already about the “Rogue One: A Star Wars
Story” - which was filmed in Vista Vision [Photographed digitally,
with Ultra Panavision 70 lenses, ed]. I read that in Robert Richardson’s
story about Quentin Tarantino – [he was the "H8" photographer for Quentin
Tarantino]; he mentioned that the next project was “Rogue One: A Star
Wars Story”, but you told me it was only done in a digital camera and
will not be issued in 70mm, and that is a pity.
So my whole hope is on “Dunkirk” and the next project. If they have a
70mm project that will be OK.
from the 50s and 60s were quite different from what they are making now".
Picture by Orla Nielsen
TH - What is it about 70mm that excited you?
JW – when I saw this morning the
"Sky over Holland",
I thought this is what 70mm is – it is a beautiful image – beautiful scenes
of nature, of the sky, of scenes on the fields and the ground and then in
Cities, and on paintings; this is for me an exact example of how you should
make a 70mm film. A combination of – not acting – OK you can put some acting
in – but it was beautiful photography – beautiful aerial photography –
compared with paintings; so it was a real story. Without even a word spoken
you can understand what it was all about.
TH – “The Hateful 8” – that was a
controversial release for many reasons because the artist insisted on
showing it exclusively in 70mm in a hundred cinemas in the States. And
he wanted to show it with an Intermission and with an Overture - and with a
printed programme. What are your thoughts about releasing a film like that
JW - it was very clever – a good re-introduction to 70mm in the States; they
were already busy a year collecting all 70mm projectors and nobody knew
about that – otherwise the prices went up and up.
TH – yes, but what did you think about it?
JW – yes, I think it is a good thing, because I am not against digital; my
children ask me – are you against all digital? No, I am not against all
digital because it can produce good quality. Sometimes if you cannot see a
film except on digital then OK, but we should keep 65mm and 70mm alive -
next to all the digital experiences, etc.. Just like now you have CDs and
DVDs, and also they are making long playing records again. I think they
should exist next to each other – digital films and 65mm and 70mm films;
that is my hope.
would love to see more restored films like we saw in Berlin in 2009".
Picture by Orla Nielsen
TH – Let us turn to the
Schauburg cinema - where we find
ourselves on the first row. What are your thoughts on seeing 70mm in the
Schauburg cinema? about the screen and the organising of the programme, and
JW – the great thing here is that the screen is just what I remember seeing
in 1957 for the first time when they projected “Oklahoma!” and that
is what I see here again; this is really 70mm - what I like – despite I do
not like faded prints, but then we had that beautiful example again of
“Sky over Holland” and also I was amazed to see
“The March of Todd-AO”.
It is a long time ago since I saw “The March of Todd-AO” it is a long
time since I saw it, but the "Sky over Holland” is my favourite I
think; and “Oklahoma!” and “Around the World”, and “Hello,
Dolly!”; someone mentioned he had seen it in 2009 in Berlin.
TH – so the Schauburg live up to all your expectations?
JW – yes, it is my perfect location for 70mm – yes, it is really good – and
the sound is beautiful - you do not need Dolby, or Atmos, there. The sound
is good and Dataset is very good and you do not need to put magnetic stripes
on it – at the same time as you print it you put the time code on; it is
really very simple, and much cheaper.
years since the "7OMM Promotion Tour". Johan and Thomas with
a vintage edition of "The 7OMM Newsletter". Picture by Orla
TH – I have known you for the better part of
25 years at least – since 1988. And you are the number one fan of 70mm that
I know - you live it like no one else – and I am proud to have been involved
with you and to have invited you this year, since I believe that all
Festivals need someone special, and we need Johan.
JW – and I am very happy that you invited me
TH - When you look back over all these years since you started the
Magazine in 1988 – do you think you
have succeeded with your personal ambition about 70mm where Festivals are
concerned, I mean since 1988 there have been a lot of 70mm Festivals much
more than ever before – does that live up to your expectations?
JW – my expectations were, that they made new films in 70mm but if we have
not that, then I am still happy with the 70mm festivals, but I would love to
see more restored films like we saw in Berlin in 2009, it was very good
festival with all new prints, “Hello, Dolly!”, “Flying Clipper”,
etc., – I would love to see “Flying Clipper” again. So yes, there are
a lot of restored nice prints – but it depends on programming – I think it
is a pity and it is what I hear from a lot of people. I would love to see a
film we saw five years ago screened here, and I would advise to do that
because if you see a film like
"Sky over Holland",
and “Gorillas in the Mist”, and “Empire of the Sun”, which was
also a good print, which I liked despite it was a blow up (I would have
preferred it in 70mm); my first thought is – do it on 65mm and then release
it in 70mm! I am a positive person and I still hope that maybe every year if
we have one director who makes 65mm, 70mm film it will be OK.
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