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Report from 70mm Film Festival in Malm° 1996

This article first appeared in
..in 70mm
The 70mm Newsletter

Written by: Jan Niebuhr ("Cheyenne Autumn") & Thomas Hauerslev Issue 46 - September 1996
In the beginning of June 1996 more than 120 reels of 70mm film were shown in one of the best 70mm houses in Europe; The Royal in Malm÷, Sweden. The 70mm Festival was a part of The International Film Music Festival. This was a unique opportunity to see many of the great 70mm epics of the sixties one last time. All prints came from the Swedish Film Institute in Stockholm where they are kept in safe conditions in a giant freezer.

The 70mm festival was, sadly, not particular successful. Less than 30 people saw each performance in the 682 seater. Indeed there were problems. One problem was the late hours of screening. Only hard-core 70mm enthusiasts would sit through "Ryan's Daughter" from 11 PM until 3 in the morning. Some of us did just that, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Another problem was the missing advertising for this event. Most of the audiences were older males (probably projectionists) who had seen the films 30 years earlier. Only "2001:A Space Odyssey" could draw a reasonable crowd. This performance topped with 179 people who all enjoyed seeing this 1968 masterpiece on the 17,6 meter (57 ft) wide and very curved 70mm screen. What follows here is a status report of a few of the 70mm prints.

"The Abyss" in Super 35 and blown up to 70mm. A perfect print but grain were visible throughout the film. One of my favorite films.

"Can Can" in Todd-AO, 7 reels with Swedish subtitles. The print was very good. Barely one scratch and most of the colors were extremely good. After the intermission, however, there were black scratches. In one scene the noise from the 65mm Todd-AO camera was audible. The quality of the sound was impressive. Discrete 6-channel stereo thanks to Mr Fred Hynes and the re-recording of Todd-AO Sound Department. Although worn out here and there (no treble in center channel) the sound presence of the actors was most welcoming.

"Cheyenne Autumn" in Super Panavision 70. Reel #1: Overture, faded, black scratches. Reel #2: Black scratches like reel #1. Reel #3. Slightly purple in color. Only minor scratches. Reel #4: OK. Reel #5: OK and Intermission. reel #6: Entr'acte and minor scratches. Reel #7: Heavily scratched 5 minutes from picture start. Reel #8: Rather nice.

"The Hallelujah Trail" filmed Ultra Panavision 70 and presented in 70mm Super Cinerama with Swedish subtitles. This print was rectified. Meaning the edges of the 70mm frame were squeezed and the center of the frame was flat. The print was probably struck for a deep curve cinema. What happens is the edges are automatically un-squeezed when projected on a 146' Cinerama screen. During filming the whole image was photographed with a fixed 1,25 squeeze. In the laboratory each print was optically rectified for a specific curvature of screen (90', 120' or 146'). Some non-rectified Ultra Panavison 70 prints were also screened with a special Ultra Panavision 70 projection-lens attachment to get the full 2,76:1 aspect ratio. The Swedish print was VERY sharp but also very faded. One good laugh in the film was the PLOWBOY wall calendar with pin-up cows in Oracles (Donald Pleasense) office. I wonder how many noticed that? The film carried some good performances but was way too long.

"Ryan's Daughter" in Super Panavision 70 with Swedish subtitles and most of the colors intact. There were only 15 people present to this performance including one enthusiast on the fifth row from the screen. The sound was descrete 6-channel stereo. Sir David's last 65mm film was never a crowd pleaser. And thanks to that, the print was almost in perfect shape.

"Solomon and Sheba" in Super Techirama 70 print #11 with Swedish subtitles. The print was almost untouched and with good reason. The film is not very good. Most of the colors were gone, leaving a distinct red impression. In some scenes, however, the colors were gorgeous. The sound was very harsh and unpleasant. In some reels the center channel information came out of the left channel which was a bit confusing.

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Updated 07-01-23