"Splendore del 70 Millimetri"
"West Side Story", Arcadia, screen "Energia", May 5, 2009, 9 pm.
The 70mm Newsletter
by: Marco Barsotti, Milan,
Image by Marco Barsotti
many chances does one have to see a classic such as "West Side Story"
in 70mm, on a very, very large screen, with stereo audio? If you live in
the 2000's in Italy probably one and only one.
So why is it that the only screening of this classic is attended by only
about 30 people (in a theatre with 600+seats) escapes me.
Too bad, because the presentation is superb, with start of the film
exactly at the time stated (9 pm), no advertising, see-through screen of
the incredible audio setup (7 channels) during masking re-sizing, and
the "Splendore del 70 Millimetri" in its best form.
in 70mm reading:
70mm Bigger Than Life - Multiplex Arcadia,
Arcadia. Image by Marco Barsotti
It is not easy to
understand how such an old film can have such vivid colors, so many details and so much stability. Yes, stability, 35mm
films (at least those printed in Italy) tend to be unstable, something
that leads me to attend only digital presentations (unless the movie is
really, really good ).
Not so with this 70mm masterpiece. The director also selected to shoot
most of the scenes with special care for the lighting, and most of the
scenes are taken at night, with white spots on the faces and selected
parts of the frame.
Sound was also a nice surprise, with stereo mixing not only during the
music parts, but also on dialogue, that comes out of the screen in the
exact location of the actor (something we are not used to in recent
feature presentations, where the dialogue is always coming from the
center of the screen, even if the actor happen to be on a side).
"Splendore del 70
Millimetri" Festival poster.
At the end of the film there was a well deserved applause, and - as soon
as the light went back - I could see (from the windows) Mr. Fumagalli
himself unloading the precious film from the projector. And I suspect he
was enjoying touching and unloading such large, colorful, historic piece
If I will be able to reclaim my cell (forgotten in Sala Energia after
taking a secret picture......) I will try to post some images here....
So this leaves us to where we started. Where were the missing 620 movie
enthusiast tonight ? Were they looking at Mr.. Berlusconi talking about
his divorce on TV?
Wherever they were they lost something important. And all of us have
probably lost the chance of future 70mm presentations in Italy.
After "West Side Story" we went back to Melzo for two further
screenings: "Ben Hur" (yes, "Ben Hur"!) and "Lawrence
"Ben Hur" was shown in a slighter smaller screen, and was a bit
more attended, in the range of 70 people or so. For "Lawrence",
back in the large screen of Sala Energia, we were again 70 people or so.
This last screening had Italian titles, which were projected below the
screen, on a separate small screen.
This means that the picture was in no way ruined by text, and we could
catch on with the dialogue by looking at the translation in case we
However Screening of "2001: a space odyssey", which was dubbed in
italian, was attended by some 400 people (we were told by Laura
So the morale, if any, is that in Italy one needs to provide Italian
dubbing, or at least subtitles, to have an audience.
One final note on the picture quality: the best of the three was "Ben
Hur", practically perfect. Second was "Lawrence", with some
scratching on in the first 30 minutes, and third was "West Side
Story", that had some part with different focus and colors than the
But then---who cares ? This Is Cinema!
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