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Visit biografmuseet.dk about Danish cinemas


Todd-AO at "Sea"
"Baraka" screened in a swim bath August 2000

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

Written by: Thomas Hauerslev Issue 62 - September 2000

The screen, the water and the audience. August 2000 picture by Thomas Hauerslev.

Press image to see enlargement

I'm happy to report about one of the more unusual 70mm presentations in recent years. The
Todd-AO Cinespace 70 film "Baraka", directed by Ron Fricke, was shown in Todd-AO 70mm in a large swim pool 13 times during August 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Play dates:

August 4. (twice), 5., 10., 11., 12., 17., 18., 19., 24., 25. , 26. and 27.

Further in 70mm reading:

Biffen, a Danish 70mm cinema



Internet link:

The audience are lining up. August 2000 picture by Thomas Hauerslev.

The event was the annual film festival "Film Fra Syd" (Films from South), which specializes in films from South America, musicals from India, and other rare films from places not usually seen in commercial cinemas in the western world. Spearheaded by Mr. Orla Nielsen,  from "
Biffen" in Aalborg (Denmark), an arrangement to screen "Baraka" in 70mm in a swim pool close to the Town Hall was set up.

The screen, 12,2 meters (40 feet) wide, was made of plaster, plywood and hand painted white, with a special paint suitable for a wet and damp area like a swim pool.

The screen cost 20.000 Danish kroner (USD $2350.00). The mobile projector, a re-built Philips DP75, was installed in the café across the pool.

"Baraka" logo reflected. August 2000 picture by Thomas Hauerslev.

The speakers and amplifiers were already present, and only a Dolby CP65 and 4 channels of magnetic pre-amps were brought along for the occasion. A new 7000 watt Kinoton lamphouse was bought for this occasion (the xenon lamp used was 4000 watt and run at 140 amps), as was a brand new 81mm  ISCO 70mm film projection lens. 

Unfortunately, an error was made somewhere along the line, because the screen, originally planned to be 14 meters (45,9 feet) wide, only turned out to be 12,2 meters (40 feet). That error meant the lens bought for the "Baraka" screenings had a too short focal length. The image would spill out on the wall.
The Philips DP75 projector, reflection of projector and the main title on screen. August 2000 picture by Thomas Hauerslev.

The projector has a special story as it originally came from the Scala cinema in Aalborg and was one of the first DP75s in Denmark.

Orla Nielsen stripped the machine completely and removed all 35mm rollers and optical soundhead. Then he cut it down as much as possible to make it a moveable 70mm projector. The machine was re-painted and equipped with wheels.

The Philips lens projecting the 70mm images. August 2000 picture by Thomas Hauerslev.

Since the picture in Copenhagen was too large Orla phoned me and explained the lens/screen problem. The re-calculated focal length was 88mm and the question was, did I have a lens like that?

To his disappointment I did not, but I did have an 87,5mm which resulted in a wonderful sharp picture.

The lens I supplied was a Philips EF 87,5mm that actually curves the picture slightly. The image on the flat screen was clearly butterfly shaped. The lens was intended to compensate for distortions normally introduced by a curved screen. We both discovered the illusion of a curved screen during a panning shot. The 40 year old Philips lens was used for the rest of the screenings.

Orla Nielsen and his machine. August 2000 picture by Thomas Hauerslev.

Each performance began at 21:00 in the evening. The audience was let inside the swim area and asked to remove their shoes and stockings.

Barefooted they all grabbed a chair and found a place to sit. The large pool zone is brand new (opened in January 2000) with a 100 meter circular lane and a middle section with a raise able floor. The audience sat on the raised section, bare footed, and waited for the film.

Before "Baraka" they were entertained with live music and enjoyed a beer or a glass of wine while being entertained by a light show specially installed. For safety precautions, at least 10 life guards were on duty during every performance. There was only one report of a member of the audience unintentionally falling into the pool. Additionally no one under 15 years of age was admitted.
A romantic view of the projector running 70mm.  August 2000 picture by Thomas Hauerslev.

After the music, the lights were dimmed and "Baraka" began.

For 94 minutes at every show the audience just sat there in awe, stunned by the images and sounds. Ever so subtle, the sound of running water and the 29°C (84°F) degrees, which is the temperature in the swim pool, added a complete unique dimension to the whole show.

Even after the 8 minutes of end titles, which most of the audience sat and watched, a lot of them stayed for at least another 15 minutes in order to "return" from the global voyage of ideas, thoughts, sound and images "Baraka" has to offer.

At the second to last performance, a spontaneous round of applause broke out at the "Filmed in Todd-AO 70mm" credit on the screen.
The Philips DP75. Note café far left and swim pool at right. August 2000 picture by Thomas Hauerslev.

All performances were heavily advertised as being in 70mm.

The local newspaper Politiken, that also acted as main sponsor, contacted Ron Fricke in the United States for an interview (which was published in Politiken Friday September 1st).

His secretary was very surprised to learn that it was in fact being shown in 70mm. As she said, it is the only way to see "Baraka". Ron Fricke added that he was very pleased to know "Baraka" was shown under these special circumstances. It was one of his original ideas with "Baraka" to have it shown outside regular cinemas such as was done in Copenhagen.

The success of these 14 "Baraka" performances (completely sold out at a ticket price of DKK 125.00 per seat = USD $15.00) has inspired the management of the swim pool NOT to take the screen down (as originally planned), but to work towards having "regular" Friday and Saturday performances starting in January 2001. "Baraka" will be shown again, but they will also consider showing other titles.
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Updated 07-01-23