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"INTERSTELLAR" in 70mm at the Zoo Palast cinema in Berlin

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Gerhard Witte, Berlin Date: 14.11.2014
Information about the showcase for the film: "Exclusively in Germany in the 70mm format." (Photo taken by the author)

Saturday, 08.11.2014 - "Interstellar" (USA/UK, 2014) in the completely restored impressive large cinema hall 1 (773 comfortable seats + 8 spaces for wheelchairs, screen size 21 x 8.8m / 69 by 29 feet) at the famous Zoo Palast cinema in Berlin, which had its festive opening on 28 May 1957 with Helmut Käutner`s film "Die Zürcher Verlobung" (Federal Republic of Germany, 1957). "The cinema returns". After the cinema’s spectacular film music, especially recorded by the Babelsberg Film Orchestra, and light show with 4 different curtains (one of which is a water curtain, a further a balloon curtain) start of Christopher Nolan’s science fiction movie. It is shown with a refurbished Kinoton/Philips DP75 Projector, also with new optics, in an aspect ratio of 2.20:1 on the screen. The movie`s thumping DATASAT 6-channel digital surround sound is broadcast via a separate disc into the cinema, which possesses a Dolby ATMOS system (CP850 processor) with 40 channels and an efficiency of 155,000 total watts. 91 loud speakers of various shapes and sizes are installed in the auditorium.

Thanks to the initiative by the cinema entrepreneur Hans-Joachim Flebbe (Premium Entertainment GmbH in Hamburg), nowadays, the famous Zoo Palast in Berlin also continues to possess the capability of projecting the analogue 5/70mm film format. Today, that is something really special as the era of analogue film is over, and there are very few remaining film projection venues for 70mm-wide film. Only one of the few 5/70mm prints of the film came from the United States (from "FotoKem" in California) to Germany. It is about 5600 meters (18.370 feet) long and weighs around 170 kg (375 lbs) (source: in70mm.com) - they are said to cost around 20,000 US dollars per print for the manufacturer - and the Zoo Palast in Berlin was specially selected to present this print.

"Interstellar" - a visually stunning science-fiction epic with a running time of 169 minutes. The movie is certainly, as is the case with many things in life, a question of taste. I will be brief and say only this. I had a certain amount of difficulty in following the partially meta-physical "extra-terrestrial" content, particularly in the second half of the film. Maybe I am just lacking the necessary powers of imagination. The shooting of outer space in "Interstellar" is impressive, certainly even more in the large IMAX 15/70mm format, and also somewhat reminiscent of Kubrick’s movie "2OO1: A Space Odyssey" (USA/UK, 1968). Also the acting performances convinced me. Regarding the second half: Due to the running time of the film, it was decided to set an interval, which is understandable. This interval arrived abruptly, approximately in the middle of the film. Subsequently, a scene photo from the film was projected onto the screen and the film-goers were informed via a "countdown" when the 15 minute long interval would be ending.
More in 70mm reading:

"INTERSTELLAR" in 70mm im Berliner Zoo-Palast

"Interstellar" Now Playing in 70MM

"Interstellar" Goes IMAX 70MM and 5/70 MM

Internet link:

The interval: "The film starts in a few minutes." (Photo taken by the author)

To arrange it like this, in this case, is not a bad idea. I find it however somewhat regrettable, compared with the 70mm epics from an earlier era, that directors no longer plan a tasteful interval scene (an intermission) for films with running times such as this. I feel that the atmosphere of the film (the festivity) suffers somewhat as a result. Oh how great it was back then to be able to enjoy the additional Overture, Intermission and Play-out music. I hope that it will not be forgotten.

Now to a phenomenon, which had been during the film`s premiere, also in 5/70mm film format, at the Grand Mercure Cinema in Elbeuf in France on 30 October 2014. Jean-Marc Toussaint writes nearly at the end of the website: "The huge amount of amps fed to the 7K lamphouse creates a slight vibration resulting in some barely perceptible flickering in the projected whites." I noticed in the Zoo Palast cinema that the film image on the screen flickered somewhat too, but only during the very bright/white scenes. A guess on my part: It could also be an effect due to the silver screen of the cinema - I am no expert in this field. Otherwise, the 70mm film looked good - high contrast, sharp and colourful. Now to the sound: In my mind`s eye it was impressive, enveloping, with easily understandable dialogues and set at a pleasant volume. During certain scenes with a high level of bass, I almost felt as if I had been sent back in time into the era of "Sensurround" technology – especially gripping was the flight through the "black hole", where even the cinema seats began to vibrate a little bit. The cinema was well attended and, thanks to the adjustable comfort chair with a pleasing amount of legroom of 130 cm (51 inches), I didn’t have any back pain, even after such a long period in the cinema (a problem for me). Thank you to the Zoo Palast in Berlin for retaining and practicing the 70mm projection technology. Thank you also to the projection crew and a great deal of success with Christopher Nolan‘s "Interstellar".
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Updated 07-01-23