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70mm in the Slovak Republic

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Martin Leskovský, Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovak Republic Date: 01.11.2008
I would like to write a word or two about my first 70mm experience in additional with short history of one 70mm cinema, where I worked many years ago.

In the year 1975 – it was on my 15th – I saw a projection of 70mm film for the first time. Although I have had much information about widescreen technology this experience branded me until now. In the time was running historical movie "The Agony and the Ecstasy" and in comparison with ordinary known 35mm projection I was enchanted by sharp large picture and clearly multichannel magnetic stereo sound. Because I was interested in cinematography, cinemas became my hobby as a second job very soon. During thirty years I worked as a projectionist in several cinemas, some of them equipped with the 70mm technology. There exist branched system of 70mm cinemas in former Czechoslovakia at the time built up from the year of 1965 to the ninetieth (approx. 53 in Czech republic and 32 in Slovak republic) even in small towns with 15 thousand inhabitants. (!) In the golden era of the large format expansion brought here many unforgettable worldwide movies. (under strict communist surveillance, of course).
More in 70mm reading:

8th Krrr! 70mm Film Festival Krnov

Open-air 70mm cinema Mír in Chrudim, Czech Republic

Chrudim Cinema Exhibition

Internet link:

The same view on the original screen with new curtain and scene after reconstruction of auditorium in early of the ninetieth.

For example, I remember on my projections movies as "Papillon" (print blowed-up especially for eastern Europe), "My Fair Lady", "Capricorn One", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "Alien", "Days of Heaven", "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Doom", "The Untouchables"… until the last 70mm print "Total Recall" but also outstanding 70mm movies from Soviet Union production "Vojna i mir"/"War and Peace" (four episodes) or "Osvoboždenije" (except of their extra propagandistically B-movie rubbish).
A view from balcony to auditorium. Slightly curved screen unmasked on 70mm (18 x 8, 1 m). Photographed on june of 1981.

I think, it should be a good idea to write a separate article mapping the history of 70mm cinemas in Czechoslovakia. Most of these 70mm cinemas were closed at the end of the ninetieth or their 70mm projectors were replaced with conventional 35mm projection. Only the one 70mm cinema survived to the present days. It’s a pity that most of us did not make any documentation for future, all we were naively believed that cinemas are forever an ever...

Here are a few pictures from the first 70mm cinema in Czechoslovakia established in half of the sixtieth in Bratislava (Capital of Slovakia). Unfortunately it was closed in the 2002 during multiplex expanding a rebuilt on discotheque. Until its end it was able to screen large format…

Best regards
Martin Leskovsky
A view to auditorium and to rear wall with projection windows. Cinema was a part of historical Y.M.C.A. building and therefore necessary construction adjustments couldn’t be made there. Due to circumstances the ceiling was hang by ropes as decoratively panels. Notice an external control board for second projectionist in the centre of balcony.
Another view to auditorium after reconstruction. Balcony and control board were cancelled and new seats were mounted on higher elevated floor. New decoration and artificial ceiling were rebuilt on the same principle. Projection room and 70mm equipment remain untouched.
Control boards was recommended for every 70mm cinemas equipped with projectors UM70/35 which allowed full remote control of both projectors especially focusing or shifting picture in range of half frame up and down. Right board buttons permitted to manipulate with curtain and set black curtain format masks. On the left board the projectionist could switch preamplifier inputs among various kind of sound formats, adjust volume and monitored sound levels separately.
A view to one projector UM70/35. (and me in teen age). It is a huge compact machine with high intensive arc carbon lamphouse later replaced with xenon lamp. Notice the film spools – at the day taking this picture cinema unfortunately had't any 70mm program.
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Updated 21-01-24