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..in 70mm in Aalborg
A 70mm get together at "Biffen"

This article first appeared in
..in 70mm
The 70mm Newsletter

Written by: Jan Niebuhr Issue 53 - June 1998
The group of enthusiasts in front of the screen

For 30 movie enthusiasts a cold January weekend in Aalborg, Denmark became a joyful opportunity to experience the best of all film formats: 70mm and 6-track magnetic stereo.

It was the second time this gathering took place. It began last year when some enthusiastic movie buffs met for a "Weekend with Movies". Last year's meeting took place in a small provincial cinema north of Aalborg called Hjallerup Bio. Two 35mm films were on the program, "Rio Lobo" and "Operation Crossbow". Present in Hjallerup was Mr. Orla Nielsen, manager of a prominent art-cinema in Denmark, the 51 seat Biffen in downtown Aalborg. With Orla Nielsen, long time subscriber to The 70mm Newsletter and die-hard 70mm enthusiast, we subsequently planned this year's event. A weekend in the name of 70mm.

Biffen is the perfect cinema for 70mm presentations: stadium seating and a curved screen. The Biffen´s usual repertoire includes art films from all over the world and 70mm films. From time to time Biffen runs a digital night with two films in digital sound, which they play very loud. Those performances are very popular and always sold out. The projection facilities are top-notch. The projectors are Academy award-winning DP70 equipped for reel-to-reel as well as platters. All sound formats are installed including Dolby Digital and DTS for 35- and 70mm.

I have good relations with The Danish Film Museum and have often been able to borrow their movies. I had definite ideas in mind when we planned this 70mm-event: We would run "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977) and Blake Edwards´ "The Great Race" (1964). I can easily hear purists say "But they are not true Todd-AO". True, they are "only" blow-ups, but to me both titles have always meant Exclusive 70mm Presentation. For some it would be their first time to see these titles in 70mm. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is the release print from 1978 when the film opened at 3 Falke Bio in Copenhagen, the ultimate 70mm house in Copenhagen. This occasion in Aalborg would probably be the last time to see this 70mm print as it is in very poor condition. The perforations are almost non-existent in some parts. In fact we did suffer several stops during the performance. Additionally the picture quality was not very good, except during some special effects scenes, for some reason.

Even die-hard 70mm fans need feeding and so, between the main movie attractions, we went to a nearby very nice harbor restaurant. During our 3-course dinner we all enjoyed talking about 70mm films.

It went much better with "The Great Race". It is one of my absolute favorite movies in the slapstick comedy genre and I see it on laserdisc quite often. The print was exceptionally good. A pure blow up with a nice sharp picture. Sometimes I was puzzled because it looked especially sharp and certainly not like a blow-up. And we didn't have any stops during the show. "The Great Race" opened in 70mm on June 9, 1966 in Copenhagen's once most prestigious cinema, the now long-gone, Kinopalćet.

A long, wonderful day had nearly come to an end, but it was not over yet. Just after midnight and fortified with large quantities of coffee, we saw rare odd reels from "South Pacific", faded of course, but in true Todd-AO. Then, full of images from a long day celebrating 70mm we retired to our hotels after the very last 70mm frame clicked out of the DP70 gate.

The Danish Film Museum has other 70mm prints in their vaults, which are "calling" to us for viewing... And so next year perhaps we'll all gather again for another 70mm event.

Mr. Jan Nieburh's end note: It is a pleasure to see the new film "Titanic" making use of the 70mm format. Thanks to that film and its extraordinary success, we all hope that when Hollywood makes big movies in the future, other filmmakers also will be encouraged to use big format and big sound, in other words: 70mm and 6-track stereo.
 

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Updated 22-12-16