David Lean’s Film of “Ryan’s Daughter” Photographed in
Super Panavision 70 by Freddie Young, BSC
Rare screening in 70mm at the Irish Film Institute, Dublin, 4.6.2013 +
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Brian
Guckian. Photos (35mm) by the writer
advertising mini-season of 70mm screenings
Cinemagoers were treated to a rare 70mm screening of David Lean’s underrated
"Ryan's Daughter" at the Irish
Film Institute in Dublin this June, from a print held by the Swedish Film
In English with Swedish subtitles, the print was in excellent condition,
with little or no colour fading, and provided an ideal opportunity to
encounter anew Freddie Young, BSC’s outstanding cinematography on what was
to be Lean’s penultimate work.
It is a pity that much of the discussion about this film has centred on the
circumstances of its production and in particular the economic bonanza it
brought at the time to the local community on the Dingle Peninsula, at the
southwest tip of the country. This has been to the detriment of the film’s
story and themes, which to this writer seem intimately bound to the
political background of the time in which it was made, additional to the
historical political events alluded to in the film.
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70mm In the Emerald Isle
Memories of Ryan's Daughter
Todd-AO & Cinerama in Ireland
Tuairisc Todd-AO agus
Cinerama in Éirinn
On the trail of "Ryan's Daughter"
& "Far and Away"
DP70 / Universal 70-35 / Norelco AAII
- The Todd-AO Projector
Irish Film Institute
lobby prior to the screening. The poster advertises the most recent film
from Irish director Neil Jordan
Academic writing on “Ryan’s Daughter” has possibly picked up on
this aspect. The film and its production could be read as a metaphor for the
Irish-British relationship: as well as the obvious symbolism of the presence
in the area of the film crew (particularly in light of the politics of the
time) and the massive set construction and shooting effort, the final scenes
where Shaughnessy and Rosy are forced to flee the village of Kirrary play
more like a cameo of the expulsion of foreign occupiers than the casting out
of members of the community. Likewise, the essential Englishness of Rosy in
the film – intriguingly permitted by Lean – makes her seem more like an
interloper than the daughter of the village publican (whose own role as an
informer seems more than coincidental). Meanwhile Trevor Howard plays the
parish priest far more like a stern Protestant minister than the worldly
Catholic prelate beloved of cinematic cliché.
of one of pair of Cinemeccanica Vic8 35/70mm projectors installed June 2012
replacing Philips DP70 (now in storage)
It may be because of these political complexities and sensitivities (perhaps
obscured over the years by the film’s overt romantic themes) that “Ryan’s
Daughter” is rarely screened in Ireland, and even rarer still in the
70mm format it should be seen in. This is a shame, because like other
65mm-photographed titles – exemplified most recently by Paul Thomas
Anderson’s “The Master”
(inexplicably still withheld from release on 70mm in Ireland) – the film can
only fully be appreciated this way.
Despite the more than 40 years that separate “Ryan’s Daughter” and
Anderson’s work, interesting similarities are apparent in both Directors’
use of close-ups in 65mm to provide greater intimacy, a heightened emotional
response and deeper engagement with the story. Also, together with the
powerful and well-known storm sequence, several dramatic shots portraying
Major Doryan in silhouette recalled, for this writer, the cinematography of
Michael Powell’s “The Edge of the World” (1937), with its similar
remote coastal setting.
case with reel #8 of "Ryan's Dotter"
Like Anderson’s recent film,
Lean’s masterfully-crafted work really plays as an epic of the interior, an
approach born of the influence of Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” on Robert
Bolt’s screenplay. A misunderstanding about this introspection (as with
“The Master”) may account for the negative reviews the film received on
release, particularly given the previous outward scale of “Doctor Zhivago”
and “Lawrence of Arabia”.
Captivating and rewarding, “Ryan’s Daughter” exemplifies a lost era
of meticulously-crafted, adult-oriented Cinema, underscoring the critical
importance of these works continuing to be available in the format they were
meant to be seen in, not only generally, but especially also for students of
cinema and the filmmaking arts.
(Note: Additional photos that were taken for this piece are currently
awaiting copyright approval)
In Memoriam – Peter (Pete) Walsh 1950 – 2012
(left) and Pete 25 August 2007. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
The continuing ability to see 70mm prints in Ireland today is down to the
determined, progressive work of Peter (Pete) Walsh, late Cinemas Programmer
at the Irish Film Institute. On his appointment in 1994, he quickly made
significant improvements to the Institute's auditoria, which, along with his
erudite programming skills, significantly increased the audience for
arthouse, repertory and classic cinema in Dublin.
A devotee of 70mm, among his many accomplishments was the acquisition of a
pair of Philips
DP70s from the former Curzon West End (formerly Columbia) cinema in
London, one of which was installed in the main auditorium at the IFI and the
other retained for spares.
As well as mainstream fare, Pete was also interested in 70mm shorts and
experimental pieces, and he had a deep and abiding appreciation of the
artistic aspects of the medium.
Prior to tragically falling seriously ill last summer, he ensured continuing
and expanded access to 70mm prints via the installation of twin 35/70mm
Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 projectors (necessary in part due to 35mm silent
film capability requirements), and was constantly making improvements to
projection quality at the IFI Cinemas.
I was privileged to know Pete Walsh over 15 years. A thoughtful, generous,
intelligent and humorous man, with a lifelong dedication to the appreciation
and understanding of Cinema, its history and traditions, his untimely
passing last December came as a shock to many.
A fuller appreciation of Pete is reproduced
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