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70mm Film Introductions
Schauburg's 7. Todd-AO 70mm festival, Karlsruhe, Germany

Read more at
in70mm.com
The 70mm Newsletter
Feature film text by: Wolfram Hannemann, Korntal, Germany. Images by: Thomas Hauerslev Date: 07.10.2011

"Bela" / "Geroy Nashego Vremeni" / "Tragik einer Liebe" / "Hero of Our Time"

 
Beginnen wollen wir unseren Reigen breitformatiger Filme gleich mit einem auf dem größten für Kinofilme verfügbaren Negativmaterial aufgenommenen Liebesdrama. Denn wie in der ehemaligen Sowjetunion stets gehandhabt, wurde auch BELA – TRAGIK EINER LIEBE nicht gemäß westlichem Standard auf 65mm-Material aufgenommen, sondern direkt auf 70mm-Negativ belichtet.

Mit großem Aufwand und viel Liebe zum Detail inszenierte Stanislaw Rostozki den im zaristischen Russland spielenden Film nach einem Roman von Mikhail Lermontov an Originalschauplätzen im Kaukasus. Eigens dafür wurden unter anderem eine Kosakenfestung und ein kabardinischer Fürstensitz aufgebaut. Bei allen im Film verwendeten Requisiten handelt es sich um keine Imitate, sondern um Originale. Der Regisseur war im ständigen Kontakt mit dem lokalen Nationalmuseum, das Waffen und Gegenstände des kaukasischen Alltags bereitstellte. Selbst die im Film gezeigten kaukasischen Essgelage sind authentisch. Auch hier gab es keine Imitate – alle Gerichte wurden original zubereitet.
 
More in 70mm reading:

Festival Program

7th Todd-AO Festival Foreword

Hannemann's 70mm introductions:
Saturday | Sunday  |

Pictures Day-by-day: Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Posters | Projection

Kevin Brownlow visits the Schauburg in Karlsruhe

Todd-AO Festival, Schauburg, Karlsruhe, Germany


Internet link:

laserhotline.de
wolframhannemann.de


Wolfram Hannemann
Talstr. 11
70825  Korntal
Germany

Fon: +49 (0) 711 832188
Fax: +49 (0) 711 8380518
Als Konsultanten fungierten u.a. der Literaturwissenschaftler und Lermontow-Experte Irakli Andronikow und die Ethnografin Studenezkaja, eine Kennerin der traditionellen adygischen Kleidung. Entgegen dem sonst üblichen Vorgehen wurden die Kostüme in Frankreich und in den Werkstätten des Bolschoi-Theaters in Moskau genäht.

Seine Premiere feierte der Film im berühmten Moskauer „Rossija“-Kino. Dort konnten sich die 2500 geladenen Gäste dann „live“ an den wunderbaren Filmkostümen erfreuen, die die Schauspieler eigens für die Premiere noch einmal angelegt hatten und auf der Vorbühne des Kinosaals präsentierten.

Für Musikfreunde unter unseren Zuschauern noch der Hinweis, dass kein Geringerer als Mstislaw Rostropowitsch die Cello-Soli der Filmmusik von Kirill Molchanov eingespielt hat.
 
 
Let’s start our festival with a Russian film from 1966 – giving me the chance to get these Russian names out of my way!

Based upon a novel by famous writer Mikhail Lermontov, BELA centers around the amourous adventures between a czaristic officer who is transferred for disciplinary reasons and a Circassian girl. Her name is Bela and thus the title of the film.

The film was directed by Stanislav Rostotsky, who was born in April 1922 in Russia, where he also died aged 79. Let me tell you a bit more about him.

Stanislav Rostotsky was a renown Russian film director whose two films, THE DAWNS HERE ARE QUIET (A ZORI ZDES TIKHIE) (1972) and BELYY BIM (1977) were each nominated for an Academy Award and received many other international awards. His father was a respected Medical Doctor and later became an official at State Department of Health. His mother was a homemaker. Young Rostotsky spent much of his childhood in a village in Central Russia. There he developed his special ability to uncover the beauty of wild nature, that later became a professional forte in his directing. In 1936, at age 14, Rostotsky made his film debut as an actor in BEZHIN LUG, albeit some parts of the film were lost, including most of his scenes.

At that time he met the legendary director Sergei M. Eisenstein. Under the guidance from Eisenstein, young Rostotsky studied literature and arts, and focused on such writers as Balzac and Zola, composers Debussy and Ravel, art of Japanese prints and Impressionist paintings by such artists as Renoir and Degas among others. Rostotsky and Eisenstein became life-long friends. Upon Eisenstein's advise, Rostotsky did not rush into film business until he achieved a well-rounded education. He attended Moscow Institute of Philosophy and Literature.
 

 
In February 1942 Rostotsky was drafted in the Red Army. After a brief training, he served as a private with the 6th Cavalry Guards Brigade at the Ukrainian Front, fighting against the Nazi troops during the Second World War. On February 11, 1944 Rostotsky was severely wounded in action; after having his leg amputated he undergone a comprehensive six-month treatment, and had to wear a prosthesis for the rest of his life. Rostotsky was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner for his courage in battle. In August of 1944 Rostotsky became a student of director Grigori Kozintsev at Leningrad Institute of Cinematography. There he studied film directing for seven years, assisted in Kozintsev's films, and graduated in 1951 as a film director. From 1952 to 2001 he worked at Gorky Film Studio in Moscow, where he made 17 films as director. Stanislav Rostotsky was awarded the State Prize of the USSR twice (1970, 1975).

He was designated People's Artist of the USSR, and received numerous awards and decorations for his contribution to film art. He was a Member of the Board of Union of Cinematographers, and five times Member of the Jury at Moscow International Film Festival. He also taught directing at State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, and wrote numerous articles on film directing and film history.

He also wrote memoirs about Eisenstein, Gerasimov, Moskvin, and other Russian film figures. Rostotsky was married to notable Russian actress Nina Menshikova and their son Andrei became a popular film actor. Outside of his film profession Stanislav Rostotsky was famous for his support of recreational fishing and was known for releasing his catch alive; he was decorated with the Medal of Honor "For Development of Fishing Resouces in Russia" and also presided at several sport fishing competitions.

We will be showing BELA in 70mm in its original Russian version as well as German subtitles. Be aware: thanks to the Sovcolor process this print is not faded, but in vivid colour!
 
 

"The Greatest Story Ever Told" / "Die größte Geschichte aller Zeiten"

 
Die Dreharbeiten zu DIE GRÖSSTE GESCHICHTE ALLER ZEITEN begannen im Jahre 1962 und wurden im folgenden Jahr beendet. Gedreht wurde in Arizona, Kalifornien, Nevada und Utah. Pyramid Lake in Nevada diente als See Galiläa, Lake Moab in Utah wurde für die Bergpredigt genutzt und das Death Valley in Kalifornien diente als Bühne für Jesus‘ 40tägige Reise in die Wildnis. Besondere Eile war beim Drehen der Szenen mit Johannes dem Täufer in der Glen Canyon Region geboten. Denn durch den Bau des Glen Canyon Damms sollte aus dieser Region der Lake Powell entstehen, was durch die Dreharbeiten verzögert wurde.

Begonnen hatten die Dreharbeiten im 3-Streifen Cinerama-Verfahren, also jenem Prozess, bei dem eine Kamera mit 3 35mm Negativen zum Einsatz kam. Nach etwa 30 Drehtagen entschied man sich jedoch, den Film im wesentlich einfacheren Ultra Panavision 70 Verfahren aufzunehmen, also auf 65mm Negativfilm mit einer anamorphotischen Linse.
 
 
70mm frame blow-up, color restored by Schauburg Kino. Print is rectified for curved Super Cinerama Screens

Erst 1965, also zwei Jahre nach dem Ende der Dreharbeiten, erlebte das von George Stevens inszenierte Epos seine Weltpremiere im Warner Cinerama Theatre in New York. Die Reaktionen der Kritiker war gespalten, der Erfolg an der Kinokasse blieb aus. Stand 1983 hatte der Film gerade einmal unter 8 Millionen US Dollar eingespielt, was in etwa 17% des benötigten „Break-Even-Point“ entsprach. Der Film verschlang ein Gesamtbudget von 20 Millionen US Dollar was inflationsbereinigt heute etwa 142 Millionen US Dollar entsprechen würde. Kein Wunder: nicht weniger als 47 Sets wurden für den Film aufgebaut. Die prekäre finanzielle Situation sowie das Unvermögen des Films, sich einem großen Publikum zu erschließen, führte dazu, dass sich in den Folgejahren niemand mehr an weiteren Bibelverfilmungen versuchte.
 
 
Stevens Inszenierung hebt sich ganz bewusst von gängigen Bibelverfilmungen ab. Mit klaren Bildkompositionen und statischen Kameraeinstellungen wird eine Sensation der Stille und Ehrfurcht erschaffen. Großen Anteil daran hat auch das Sounddesign des Films. DIE GRÖSSTE GESCHICHTE ALLER ZEITEN dürfte vermutlich das leiseste Bibelepos sein, das jemals produziert wurde. In vielen Szenen herrscht fast vollkommene Stille vor und selbst die Schauspieler flüstern ihre Texte nahezu. Eben alles andere als gewohnte Hollywood-Bibel-Kost.

Die Musik zu George Stevens Film komponierte Hollywood-Legende Alfred Newman, dessen Söhne Thomas und David inzwischen in die Fußstapfen ihres Vaters getreten sind und zu den begehrtesten Filmmusikkomponisten zählen. Alfred Newman, der zur Zeit von DIE GRÖSSTE GESCHICHTE ALLER ZEITEN gesundheitlich angeschlagen war, wurde bei seinem Mammutwerk von Ken Darby, Hugo Friedhofer und Fred Steiner unterstützt.

DIE GRÖSSTE GESCHICHTE ALLER ZEITEN wurde für fünf Academy Awards nominiert: beste Musik, Beste Farbfotografie, Beste Ausstattung, Beste Kostüme und Beste visuelle Effekte.

Ursprünglich dauerte der Film 260 Minuten, wurde dann jedoch auf 238 Minuten, dann auf 197 Minuten und schließlich auf 137 Minuten gekürzt. Bei der uns vorliegenden 70mm-Kopie handelt es sich um die optisch korrigierte 197-Minuten-Version, die offensichtlich später im Positiv vom Verleih auf eine kürzere Version geschnitten wurde. Wir zeigen Ihnen die ursprüngliche Schnittfassung und spielen die geschnittenen Szenen digital und farbangepasst ein.
 
 
THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD originated as a U.S. radio series in 1947, half-hour episodes inspired by the Gospels. The series was adapted into a 1949 novel by Fulton Oursler, a senior editor at Reader's Digest. Darryl F. Zanuck, the head of 20th Century Fox, acquired the film rights to the Oursler novel shortly after publication, but never brought it to pre-production. In 1958, when George Stevens was producing and directing THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK at 20th Century Fox, he became aware that the studio owned the rights to the Oursler property and created a company, 'The Greatest Story Productions', to film the novel.

It took two years to write the screenplay. Stevens collaborated with Ivan Moffet and then with James Lee Barrett. It was the only time Stevens received screenplay credit for a film he directed. Ray Bradbury and Reginald Rose were considered but neither participated. The poet Carl Sandburg was solicited though it is not certain if any of his contributions were included. Sandburg, however, did receive screen credit for “creative association.”

Financial excesses began to grow during pre-production. Stevens commissioned French artist André Girard to prepare 352 oil paintings of Biblical scenes to use as storyboards. Stevens also traveled to the Vatican to see Pope John 23rd for advice.
 
 
In August 1961, 20th Century Fox withdrew from the project, noting that $2.3 million had been spent without any footage being shot. Stevens was given two years to find another studio or 20th Century Fox would reclaim its rights. Stevens moved the film to United Artists.

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD featured an ensemble of well-known actors, many of them in brief, even cameo, appearances. Some critics would later complain that the large cast distracted from the solemnity, notably in the appearance of John Wayne as the Roman centurion who comments on the Crucifixion by stating: “Truly this man was the son of God.”

Being a perfectionist, George Stevens did many takes of John Wayne's single line. A rumor has long persisted that at one stage Stevens pleaded with Wayne to show more emotion, an overwhelming sense of awe. During the next take, Wayne changed the line to, "Aw, truly this man was the son of God."
 
 
Principal photography was scheduled to run three months but ran nine months or more due to numerous delays and setbacks (most of which were due to Stevens' insistence on shooting dozens of retakes in every scene). Joseph Schildkraut died before completing his performance as Nicodemus, requiring scenes to be rewritten around his absence. Cinematographer William C. Mellor had a fatal heart attack during production; Loyal Griggs, who won an Academy Award for his cinematography on Stevens’ 1953 Western classic SHANE, was brought in to replace him. Joanna Dunham, who played Mary Magdalene, became pregnant, which required costume redesigns and carefully placed camera angles.

Stevens brought in two veteran filmmakers: Jean Negulesco and David Lean. Negulesco filmed sequences in the Jerusalem streets while David Lean shot the prologue featuring Herod the Great between his films LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. He did it as a favor for George Stevens, who was bogged down with the production in Nevada.

In favor of my intro not becoming „The Longest Introduction Ever Told“ I better stop it here. Just a technical note: please keep in mind that we will run a German dubbed 70mm print with color fading. It was optically corrected for presentation on Super Cinerama screens. Thus you will notice an anamorphic squeeze at the left and right edges of the picture. Since some parts of the film are missing in our print, we will add these missing scenes digitally, thus resulting in the 197 minute version.
 
 
   
   
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Updated 22-12-16