Some notes from Karlsruhe
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Anders
M Olsson, Lund, Sweden
Harlan (right) meeting Anders M Olsson at the Wolf's Schnitzlerei, in
Karlsruhe. Picture by Thomas Hauerslev
As usual, nice atmosphere, nice people, and a flawless organization!
Last time I was in Karlsruhe, two years ago, was very heavy on German
films and German dubbed prints. This year they were back to their usual
mix of German and English prints. I have no problem to sit through a
film dubbed in German, even though I don't understand it all. If it's a
good film that I haven't seen before, it only means that I'll have to
revisit it later on, on DVD or Blu-ray.
Thursday evening featured a "festival warm-up" in the form of
Space Odyssey" introduced by Stanley Kubrick's producer and
brother-in-law Jan Harlan. The film was shown in a 2K print which,
according to Paul Rayton, is an early DCP at a low bit rate, not quite
up to today's standards.
Having seen the film way too often, I left in the intermission to get
some rest after the day's travels. Sadly, that also meant that I missed
the Q&A with Jan Harlan after the film.
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12. Todd-AO 70mm-Festival.
30. September - 2. October, 2016
from 12th Todd-AO Festival @ the Schauburg Cinerama, Karlsruhe
Olsson's Images from Cinerama's 60th Anniversary at the Dome
Mystery Cinerama truck in Sweden
Starting Friday, the main part of the festival was in progress, and that
meant no more digital - only good old genuine 70mm prints from now on!
First came "Howard's End" dubbed in German, and that's a film I'll have
to watch again in its original language. Emma Thompson is simply
stunning, and Prunella Scales (Mrs. Fawlty in "Fawlty Towers") appears
in a minor part.
Then there was "Empire of the Sun" in English. Good work by Steven
Spielberg, but nothing remarkable, and a slightly erratic story that was
a little hard to see where it was really intended to go.
Finally "Batman vs. Superman" in English, a film that I've been
carefully avoiding so far. I probably should have avoided it this time
as well, but at least it's good to know that it's complete crap. Not
even the lovely Amy Adams as Lois Lane could save it. Superman / Clark
Kent dies in the end, but don't worry - I'm sure he'll be resurrected in
the next film...
Nielsen and Anders M Olsson inside the Schauburg. Picture by Thomas
The advertised short films "Concorde" and "Bridge to Space" hadn't
arrived. They were stuck in customs somewhere, so instead we were
treated to a "surprise package" of other short films:
- "The March of Todd-AO", a pink print with German narration
- "Sky Over Holland", OK colorful print with no dialogue or narration
- A short clip from "The Agony and the Ecstasy" with Rex Harrison dubbed
in German. Pink.
- A (pink) commercial for Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes. I really felt the
urge to go out and have a smoke - not!
- A (pink) trailer for "Barabbas" with Anthony Quinn dubbed in German.
Then came the first feature film for the day, "Bolshoi Ballet 67". Not
much dialogue and narration, but what was there was all in Russian and
impossible to understand. Not quite my cup of tea, but still not
unpleasant to watch. Russian prints don't fade, but they do come in some
strange colors even when new.
After that, "Gorillas in the Mist". No question about it, that was the
best film of the festival so far. I thoroughly enjoyed it and completely
forgot that I wasn't supposed to understand the German dialogue. Had
this film been done today, they probably would have done away with the
"nuisance" of real gorillas, and done everything - jungle and all - in a
studio in Hollywood with computer animated animals. And the film
wouldn't have been half as good. Think Disney's "Jungle Book" remake. :(
"The Hunt for Red October" was presented in its original English version
with a remarkably good use of the surround channels. Most of the action
took place inside submarines which I found slightly boring. I probably
fell asleep once or twice...
After some food I skipped Tarantino's splatter movie
"The Hateful Eight"
and went back to my hotel for some well deserved sleep...
Hauerslev's and his lecture explaining the highlights of San Francisco's
projection rooms / toilet facilities in 1994.
Picture by Orla Nielsen
The first item for the day was a slide show by Thomas Hauerslev about
his and Johan Wolthuis'
70mm promotion tour to the west coast of the
United States 22 years ago. Highly interesting, with some inside looks
at places long gone. It's amazing what level of hospitality the "dynamic
duo" enjoyed while in the U.S.
"Dick Tracy" was a demonstration of all the things that can go wrong
when translating a successful comic strip character to film. Not exactly
a film I'm anxious to see again any time soon, but some nice songs
performed by Madonna.
I skipped over "The Right Stuff". I saw it at its first run in the
eighties in Malmö, Sweden where I went to see it, expecting a normal one
and a half hour feature. After two hours I began to wonder whether it
wouldn't end soon. After two and a half, I started to feel
uncomfortable. After three hours I was desperate to go to the
bathroom... They reportedly ran the film WITH an intermission in
Karlsruhe, even though there wasn't supposed to be any. As Alfred
Hitchcock once said: "The duration of a film should not exceed the
capacity of the human bladder".
room monolith. 1x3x9.
Picture by Thomas Hauerslev
Then came what I consider the pinnacle of the festival:
"Little Shop of
Horrors". Wonderful humor, wonderful music, wonderful actors. Perfect
entertainment! (The only thing that can beat that film is the same story
done on stage. I saw the stage play twice in Malmö in 1986, which was
probably the most fun I've ever had at the theater.)
I also skipped "Lethal Weapon 2". Since my train to the airport was
leaving the next morning at two minutes to six (!) I really needed to go
to bed early.
I was very disappointed to learn that "Ben Hur" was going to be screened
on Monday at 11 o'clock in a newly restored 4K print. Had I known that
in advance, I would have booked a later flight for my return trip.
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