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A Review of "The Master" in 70mm
in 70mm at the Odeon West End 2-29 November 2012

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Ramon Lamarca Marques, London, EnglandDate: 28.11.2012
Odeon West End on Leicester Square in London's West End. Image by Ben Wales

I recently attended a 70mm screening of "The Master" in London, which felt truly unique. It reminded me of those times when going to the pictures was something special. I am old enough to have had part of my childhood with only black and white TV at home, whilst living in a city with fantastic cinema palaces (almost all of them gone now). Going to the pictures has been for the main part of my life an event. Nowadays TVs have become bigger and better and cinemas smaller and not better.

I was born in Barcelona but have lived in London for many years now and I never thought I would be able to see any major release of an originated 65mm film on a 70mm print in the West End. This fact alone brought a sense of awe that had been missing from the experience of going to the pictures for a long time.

Also, the big marketing campaign, especially in the London underground, mentioning the exclusive 70mm presentation, increased the sense of awe.
More in 70mm reading:

P T Anderson's "The Master" in System 65

A review of "The Dark Knight" in IMAX

70mm Film Presentations in London, England 1958 - 2012

Motion pictures photographed in Super Panavision 70 & Panavision System 65

Now showing in 70mm in a theatre near you!
"The Master" 70mm ticket. Image by Bill Lawrence

I love film and I associate it very much with going to the pictures. Nowadays most films are projected digitally and this will become the norm soon. I have always enjoyed different formats and I value the way films are presented. What I will say is very subjective, I know, but many of us agree. Some people prefer digital screenings and some of us prefer film screenings. However, I still have to find someone who is not fascinated by the beauty of a properly projected 70mm print of a film originated in 65mm.
London's Underground railway with "The Master" poster display - in 70mm of course. Image by Mark Lyndon

I shared this experience with my wife Avni and Bill Lawrence. The Odeon West End is not as impressive as the Odeon Leicester Square and it was split into two screens a long while ago. Nevertheless the two auditoriums are quite impressive and they still use curtains and this auditorium does not have one of those annoying silver screens for 3-D.

The trailers and ads were in digital and this made the event more unique, with a different texture, the mundane (digital) and the artistic (film). It was an amazing visual and aural experience. The Master is designed to be experienced on a big screen and although this seems to be an anachronism in an era where most audiovisual productions are enjoyed on tiny screens, I think it is a bold statement from director Paul Thomas Anderson.
Odeon night facade dressed up for 70mm. Image by Mark Lyndon

This was not a nostalgia trip; "The Master" is a truly contemporary film. It takes the best from the past and incorporates an original narrative and use of music, which is composed by Jonny Greenwood and is atonal at certain points. The score is a perfect fit for the film’s acting, camerawork and direction. All these elements merge to offer a film which is incredibly seductive and almost hypnotic in a slightly weird way.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix are outstanding in their roles. The close-ups in 65/70mm are perfect to see every nuance on their faces and what a joy this was. We got seats very close to the screen and it paid off.

The colours on this 70mm print were great, quite saturated, like the look of the films produced in America at the time the film is set. The darks were beautiful and I enjoyed the gorgeousness of the shades of light with the precision and beauty that film can only reproduce.
Odeon facade dressed up for 70mm. Image by Mark Lyndon

I am of the opinion that we never see reality completely still. Digital screenings can look still and cold at times and so, to my eyes, film portrays reality better in a warmer way. I have also found that many of us find film screenings more relaxing compared to digital screenings and I wonder if this is due to the shutter effect. In any case the film’s 144 minutes passed by very quickly and I gather this is due to the perfect combination of the elements present. The only issue was with the very uncomfortable seats at the Odeon West End but you have to pay even more than £16 to get proper seats, the joys of cinema exhibition!
The Victoria 8 at the Odeon West End projecting 70mm again. Image by Ben Wales

The print was in mint condition and the projection was flawless, what a joy. I fail to understand why, if Paul Thomas Anderson manages to produce such an arty film in 65/70mm, directors like Spielberg, De Palma, Scorsese or Stone (to name a few) cannot do the same. Production companies invest more money to produce a ‘different’ experience like 3-D for audiences, why don’t they also invest a bit more to produce another ‘different’ experience like a 65mm originated film printed on 70mm for a limited release? Let’s hope they do.
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Updated 21-01-24