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Reflections on The 70mm Aalborg Film Festival at The Biffen

The 70mm Newsletter
Written & Photographed by: Mark Lyndon Date: 19.05.2014
Mark Lyndon and Orla Nielsen

Shortly after the one day
70MM Film Festival at The Biffen in Aalborg in April, some excellent reports were published here; narrating and celebrating the tremendous success it enjoyed as a showcase for and demonstration of the best of true film - in 70mm, naturally. With the perspective of a few weeks more, it is now worth reflecting on and asserting what a genuine film festival is actually for and what it actually does. The Cannes Festival, is now in full swing. (Note the absence of the word film). It is worth reading and noting the "About" statement posted by the Director of the Cannes Festival, Thierry Frémaux on the official Cannes Festival Website.

The brightest and most perceptive cineaste would be hard pressed to glean the purpose of The Cannes Festival from the high flown rhetoric and lofty abstractions which constitute this important statement. Be in no doubt that this is an important statement and seriously consider why it is now so vitally important that Festivals such as 70mm at The Biffen in Aalborg, should succeed. Orson Welles once described film as "...a ribbon of dreams." The projection team at The Biffen plainly demonstrated that 70mm film still remains by far the best way of exhibiting the moving image, par excellence, tout court.

The digitally captured and projected image, which has proved so useful and convenient to the industry, is essentially a product of television technology. All colours, including black and white are derived from the the Red, Green and Blue (RGB) additive process. Without delving further into the technicalities of why film is so gloriously different, a beautiful print of two reels of "Lawrence of Arabia" demonstrated this self evident truth at The Biffen, on that late April day in Aalborg. The70mm image positively gleamed, shone and captivated.
More in 70mm reading:

70MM Film Event at Biffen, Aalborg Denmark, 26. April 2014

Aalborg 70mm Film Event

Oliver Michael Todd in Conversation with Thomas Hauerslev

70mm Day in Aalborg

Internet link:

Oliver Todd (left) in conversation with Thomas Hauerslev

Here we saw the piercing and hypnotic blue of the eyes of Peter O'Toole, so perceptively cast as Lawrence.
Here we saw how a hitherto shy and diffident man, came to lead and inspire a mighty movement.
Here we saw how the shining brass of the immaculate uniforms of the military elite, dazzled subordinates into submission.

Oliver Todd, The Biffen guest of honour and scion of the illustrious Todd family, observed that "West Side Story", a film he had previously disliked was now something he had come to admire. Could a Digital Cinema Print achieve such a conversion, I wonder? Festival goers were also very fortunate in being treated to a doctorate level seminar on the history of the Todd-AO process. How many University Departments could equal that, I wonder? "2OO1: A Space Odyssey", now well into it's fifth decade, has lost none of it's magic and sheer pulling power, filling The Biffen to capacity. Enough said.

It was a very hopeful sign, to see leading executives of the film industry attend and delight in a special screening of "West Side Story" at The Biffen. They and all those who were privileged to be at The Biffen to celebrate the "greatest show" in Todd-AO were left in no doubt which moving image technology remains the greatest.

The jury at Cannes is still out.
See the video of the Oliver Todd conversation
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Updated 04-05-22