"70mm is Back by Popular Demand - 50 Years Of Todd–AO"
Todd-AO 70mm Festival 7 - 9 October 2005
Schauburg Cinerama, Karlsruhe, Germany
The 70mm Newsletter
and text by: Thomas Hauerslev
The 50th anniversary of the Todd-AO
process was celebrated in October 2005 at the Schauburg
cinema in Karlsruhe in Germany. This was the second event of this kind
which I have attended during 2005 (the first was in Bradford, England
earlier in March 2005).
For some time I had corresponded with the manager of the Schauburg, Mr.
Herbert Born, and I've regularly included the periodic 70mm shows there on in70mm.com´s list of screenings.
In April 2005 he proposed this celebration of Todd-AO and 70mm, which I of course
encouraged the best I could.
We have 35mm - which is good. Then we have digital - which is also quite
good. Finally we have 70mm, and
Todd-AO is a testament to the superiority of the 70mm technology. And
Herbert Born wished to show off the quality of 70mm during one
I offered to present my illustrated lecture on "The Early
Days Of Todd-AO" to add some historical perspective to the German
the lecture during the Widescreen Weekend in
Bradford 2005. Mr. Born invited me to give the lecture and I eagerly looked
forward to meet Herbert, see his cinema and once again spend a
weekend with 70mm films.
Little did I know how overwhelmed I would become, seeing 70mm films at the Schauburg.
The weekend turned out to be the most "perfect show in Todd-AO"
I had ever seen. Almost hyper realistic to see the clarity, sharpness and
colour of the 70mm images nearly jumping towards you from the wide curved
I was close to tears looking at the brand new 70mm print of "Hello, Dolly!" - as I felt, seeing movies like this was the true
essence of cinemagoing - of going to the movies. This is what movies are
supposed to look like. Contemporary movies and cinema pale in comparison to
the Schauburg and 70mm.
In this article I'll try to pass on some of my experience from Karlsruhe and give you an
idea of the events. It will be in the form of a mission report about the cinema,
audience and films.
Going to Karlsruhe
I left Copenhagen early Friday morning with SAS bound for Stuttgart
Flughafen. I arrived 45 minutes late because the airport was fogged in.
Quite thrilling to land when you cannot see anything, and then quite suddenly
you see the runway. Herbert Born met me at the airport and he drove me
all the way to Karlsruhe in his Italian Maserati convertible. My hotel, the
Dorint Novotel Karlsruhe, was conveniently located only 5 minutes walk from the
cinema, from his shop.
Following checking in to my room I walked towards the cinema and enroute met Wolfram and
Volker Hannemann, two friends from Bradford. Wolfram is the owner
of the on-line DVD shop, "Laser Hotline". I bought the recent DVD of Wim Wenders "Im Lauf der Zeit",
a three hour odyssey of a cinema technician.
A few minutes later I arrived at the Schauburg. The cinema is located in
Marienstrasse 16, which appears to be slightly off the city center. Nevertheless, a quiet neighbourhood street with it's own local flavour. One
neighbour is a local brewery. More about that later.
More in 70mm reading:
Todd-AO Festival Home
• 1st Todd-AO Festival
• Wilkommen | Welcome
Intro | Festival Images
2005 Festival Flyer (PDF)
70mm is Back by Popular Demand
Festival Through the Years
More Schauburg Cinerama
Festivals in Pictures
Best of Todd-AO Festival
• Guests |
of the cinema
The Schauburg is dominated by a marble front and 9 red letters
spelling S C H A U B U R G in red neon on top of the entrance. A
large vertical sign in the front of the building also spells "Schauburg", in
blue neon. A bit rusty, it signals a long history of movie exhibition (and the
need for some repair).
For this weekend, the whole front of the house was decorated with large banners
and flags from many European countries, symbolizing the international
character of the weekend.
A special hand-painted billboard also revealed the nature of the weekend --
the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Todd-AO a/k/a "The Largest
70mm Film Festival".
The Schauburg plays all kinds of movies, including special programs for children,
foreign films in original languages and of course specializes in
frequent 70mm performances.
They main foyer is dominated by movie posters, marble floors, three ticket
counters, a long bar and the smell of popcorn. The inner foyer is much more
1960s style. Dark, stylish with a bar to the right and access to the
Schauburg cinema to the left. A large grand staircase, often used as setting
for music videos and wedding pictures, leads upstairs to the old balcony.
Except for a single framed "Psycho" poster, there are no
posters in the inner foyer which is painted in gold. The upstairs foyer is
also painted in gold. The Schauburg dates back more than 100 years. It
originally was a variety theatre, but in 1906 it became a permanent cinema.
Most of the Schauburg was destroyed during World War II but it was
eventually reopened with a new foyer and entrance. Today the Schauburg has 3
screens: "The Schauburg" (screen #1) "Cinema" (screen 2, 148 seats, located on the balcony
of the original cinema) and “Bambi” (screen 3 , 61 seats).
In the early 1960s, 70mm Cinerama was installed and the projection room was
moved to the ground floor. The benefit from this move is of course to have a
nearly level projection angle and minimize keystone distortion on the curved
The huge curved single sheet Cinerama screen is installed to this day.
Considering the age and history of the Schauburg, the cinema looks very
modern. Black linoleum floor and comfortable red seats. Everything is draped
in "Cinerama Red" curtains and the lighting comes from classic
chandeliers. The deeply curved screen covers the entire end of the cinema
and goes from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. The screen is actually removable
to reveal the theatre stage behind it.
The screen measures 16 meters wide (along the curve), 6,3 meters high, and the curve is 3,2 meters
deep. I must say the screen appears to be
larger, but my perception of the size is clearly an illusion.
The cinema now seats 420 people in 18 rows. Three rows closest to the screen
have been removed to make room for live appearances.
Go to "70mm is Back by Popular Demand"
Projection at the Schauburg.
The centerpiece of the projection equipment is a pair of the Philips DP75
70mm projectors, a Kinoton ST270 platter system and a Dolby Laboratories
CP200 sound processor. The sound system is also capable of both Dolby
Digital and Digital Theatre Systems DTS format.
For the 70mm weekend, a new lamp house with a 5000 watt xenon bulb had been
installed on machine 2.
Since most of the 70mm films were to be shown in DTS,
the DTS Company in London had sent
over a spare processor.
Throughout the weekend, Vincent Koch and Markus Vetter, the projectionists were on duty all the time. And
they did an outstanding job always showing the films in perfect focus across
The projection room itself was not particularly large but everything seemed to
be in perfect order. With lots of 70mm print transportation cases stored
almost everywhere, there was limited space for moving
around and having visitors. But the projectionists welcomed all guests who wanted to have
a look around.
Friday 7 October 2005
Hannemann brothers, Wolfram and Volker
foyer I met Herbert and he gave me the weekend pass giving access to
all the films and events. He also showed me the weekend souvenir
program book and flyer. Two colourful publications promoting
Todd-AO and 70mm history. An original poster had also been produced in
celebration of (and to promote) the Todd-AO 70mm weekend.
Herbert had had Grant Lobban´s article "In
The Splendour of 70mm" translated into German and I had
contributed to the souvenir book with my own 2002 Walter Siegmund interview.
The book will become a valuable Todd-AO souvenir in any enthusiast's bookshelf.
I was ready and waiting for the start of the first showing, "Patton". Herbert introduced the weekend
by welcoming the guests and thanking the sponsors, especially 20th Century
Fox. I stayed for a while (couldn't miss that incredible performance by
George C. Scott in
the first reel), but since I had seen it in its entirety in 2002 at Bradford,
I decided to also check out a bit of the city.
I went for a walk to find a few items for my children before
settling down for "The Agony and the Ecstasy" at 17:30 and
"Hello, Dolly!" at 20:30.
Karlsruhe has a nice city center/shopping area free of cars and only "inhabited"
by a system of trams. I spent some hours enjoying the weather (sunshine and
close to 20° C), shops and pedestrian area. Went back to my hotel to unload
and walked to the Schauburg around 16 o'clock. Enough time to chat with some
70mm friends and take some pictures of the cinema. And not forgetting, tasting the
local brew ;-)
Many people attending the annual Widescreen
Weekends in Bradford found their way to Karlsruhe. And with good
reason, a lot of the Germans enjoyed having this kind of 70mm fest in their
own back yard. The audience was of course dominated by the mainly - German audience,
but people from England, France, Portugal, Holland, Denmark and Sweden had
also decided to show the flag for their nations -- making it an international
Around 80 people turned up for "The Agony and the Ecstasy"
- not at all bad according to Herbert Born. The colors were fabulous and unbelievably
sharp. The red and blue colors were amazing. I could hear the projectors
running ever so quietly in the background. Somehow the sound of the
projector "smells" like cinema. Of course noise like that shouldn't
be there, but on the other hand, it proves it's a physical thing running through
the machine. One of Herbert's points of the weekend was to show off just
how good 70mm films look despite the 50 year old technology. Digital
projection is hyped everywhere as being very good -- and it is (at least what
I've seen) -- but 70mm still has the advantage and will probably continue to
be superior to digital for several decades to come.
Before each performance the Schauburg still uses a "Gong". Three
notes of sound to denote the beginning of the performance - I cannot
remember the last time I have heard a "gong" in Denmark. A nice reminder
of the magic of cinema, though.
Once you have seen Rex Harrison´s incomparable Professor Higgins in "My Fair
Lady" it is nigh-impossible to accept him as any other person in other
films -- like "Agony". "What is "Higgins" doing in ancient
Rome"? Several among the audience agreed on this. Something is just not
The next show was "Hello, Dolly!", a film I had particularly
looked forward to seeing, since I missed it in Bradford earlier this
year. Herbert introduced the
film in German and gave the microphone to me to read a
Walter Siegmund specifically written two days earlier for the weekend on behalf of Henry
Cole, Brian O'Brien Jr. and himself. Sort of a Todd-AO epilogue.
Then the film began and I was again stunned by the clarity of the images. It
was so unreal to see "Hello, Dolly!" in perfect colour. The
past 20 years I've been accustomed to seeing this film in faded prints and never
expected to see it as it was meant to be seen. It was larger than life, the
purest form of musical, so sharp, no grain, great colours, wonderful 6-track
stereo -- simply the grandest experience. The real show in Todd-AO. My goose
bumps had goose bumps seeing every thread in Walter Matthau´s tweed
As Herbert expressed it "Nice and sharp images - almost
like a window to the world". And how right he was.
The audience also seemed to enjoy the film and gave it a large and warm
applause at the end.
After "Dolly" the Schauburg hosted a reception with free beer,
courtesy of HOEPFNER Bräu,
and at the same time celebrated the opening of a Todd-AO
/ 70mm film poster exhibition.
6 large boards with a collection of movie posters and lobby cards from the
famous 70mm films of the 1960s -- an era long gone by -- admired by the
audiences while enjoying the HOEPFNER beer. Unfortunately it was removed
Saturday morning when I went for a second look.
I went home to my hotel, very tired, and jumped into bed.
Saturday 8 October 2005
Koch checking the film
Thanks to airplane
air-conditioning, I woke up with a severe cold and a headache from too
little sleep. Ate breakfast at the hotel and rushed off to the
Schauburg to see the beginning of "Ryan´s Daughter".
Always a fan of David Lean I would have liked to see it, but decided
to leave it and also leave "Doctor Dolittle" and
instead do some more sightseeing in Karlsruhe.
I also managed to catch up on my sleep for a couple of hours in the
I returned to the Schauburg for the performance of "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines"
late in the afternoon. I've always enjoyed the title song and also had the
pleasure of interviewing
the director, Mr. Ken Annakin in Bradford in 2000. The new 70mm print had
great sound, colors and incredible sharpness to it. I missed it in Bradford
The audience was in very good mood and laughed a lot. Especially, as the
majority were Germans, it was fun to hear them laugh at Gert Fröbe and his
"There iz notzing a German offizer cannot do" and how they did everything
by the book "Number 1 - zit down". Just hilarious.
The film received huge applause at the end.
At this point I felt this was the best 70mm performance I had ever seen. The
combination of the Schauburg's wide curved screen, a funny film, the new
print, ultra sharp projection and good sound. This is how 70mm is supposed
to look!. Well done Schauburg!!!
The last show Saturday was a gala performance of "My Fair Lady"
in German. Herbert introduced the film by wishing everyone "einen schönen
The fact it was in German would probably scare a lot of people away, but I
find it interesting to see a well known film dubbed into a foreign language.
I didn't understand a word of it but it amazed me how close the German
voice of Rex Harrison was to the original. I was told the actress who
dubbed Audrey Hepburn has a "thick" Berlin accent which is VERY
far from Eliza's London accent. It was also fun to hear the audience laugh without
The print was faded and was presented in 70mm with 6-track magnetic stereo.
For some reason Super Panavision 70 didn't look as sharp as Todd-AO did.
Perhaps sharpness is compromised when the prints fade? At least it certainly
looked as if the Todd-AO lenses were much sharper.
Sunday 9 October 2005
my lecture - huge slides!
I woke early
as usual, but unlike the previous day, I was in much better shape
without a headache. I looked forward to giving my lecture about Todd-AO
and was curious about how many would show up for it. I had re-edited
the Bradford version down to just under 30 minutes.
Anyway, I had breakfast at the hotel and quickly went to the Schauburg
to set up the lecture, microphone, light, slides and laser pointer
I read it slower compared with my previous performance in Bradford
2005. Very early on Herbert wanted to translate it into German and
hand out earphones but it proved to be too costly. Fortunately, he
realized Todd-AO 70mm history was adequately covered in the festival
program in both German and English.
It all worked fine and from what I understood, the lecture was well received.
At least I got a nice round of applause.
Following the lecture several short films were shown to demonstrate the
superiority of 70mm film. Olivier Brunet's "Fanny's Wedding"
(2003 - MCS-70 Superpanorama) looked absolutely stunning as did Morten Skallerud´s
"A Year Along The Abandoned Road"
(1989 - Super Panavision 70) which is always an audience pleaser. Herbert
introduced "Fanny's Wedding" and I introduced "Abandoned
Road" by explaining the technique behind nature animation. Then
followed a long line of 70mm trailers and rare clips, including:
"Stuyvesant" 65mm film cigarette commercial and a MGM 6-track test film
(with clips from "Doctor Zhivago"). 70mm trailers from: ”Far and Away”,
"Cliffhanger", "Hot Shots: Part Deux", "Rising
Sun", "Body of Evidence", "Lorenzo´s
Oil", "Batman", "Ben Hur", "2001",
clip from the "Ben Hur" chariot race and a faded clip from "The
Agony and the Ecstasy" and finally, a French "Lawrence of
I am sorry to report that despite my efforts I won't be able to attend your
festival next Sunday.
Too much work and concerns, too much travels planned in the same short
period of time.
I hope the print has now reached Karlsruhe. I'll be very curious to learn
about the audience's reaction after the screening of "Fanny's
Thank you again for your kind invitation. I wish you the greatest success,
(I hope that there are still many 70mm lovers in Germany.
"Grand Prix" was represented with a 16mm documentary
titled: "Challenge of Champions"/"La Course des Champions" blown up to 70mm. A faded 70mm print of the classic
film "Shellarama" concluded this morning and it seemed to
please the audience once again with it's naïve view of the roaring, gasoline-consuming 1960s.
It was time for lunch and the local brewery served a nice German schnitzel
and some good beer which we all enjoyed. The weather was absolutely fabulous
and here we were, sitting inside all day watching 40 year old movies. We
should of course have stayed outside all day enjoying the sun and the
German beer (or maybe not).
During the summer Herbert had asked me which 70mm films I hadn't seen yet. One
of them was "Airport" and Herbert kindly scheduled it
Sunday afternoon. What a nice gesture. The print was a faded German print with mono dialogue and
stereo sound. I was told the film didn't open in 70mm until late into the
release and therefore the German mono dub was used on the 70mm prints. I didn't
understand a word of the dialogue, but had great fun seeing it. "Airport"
was one of the first disaster movies and was almost as funny as the spoofs
High/Airplane I+II". The images were sharp and again showed off Todd-AO
at it's very best.
"Airport" was dubbed in Room 1 at Universal which was only set up for 4
track. I haven't seen it in 70mm since it's original release (I've heard
rumours of a new 70 print being struck for ten years), so I don't recall if
the appropriate dialog and effects were moved around to match the
positioning of images on the screen during the multiple image sequences, but
putting dialog and effects either solely in the center or bled into the
other channels was pretty much the accepted standard by the January, 1970
when the final dub was being done."
Rick Mitchell 17.10.2005
update on the "Airport" soundtrack - many thanks for update to Wolfram
Hannemann, LASER HOTLINE
"The print was a faded German print with mono dialogue and stereo sound"
That is not exactly true. The sound was mono all way long! Not only did the
dialogue not have a stereo panning, but the music and sound effects were
mono, too! Certainly it was 6-track magnetic, but all tracks had identical
sound information (= mono).
film in film gate during projection
My last film this "Magnificent" weekend was
"The Sound of Music"
which is sometimes disparaged by critics as a piece of horse manure. The
reviewers obviously haven't seen it in Todd-AO ;-)
Anyway, to me it is one of the funniest and most enjoyable musicals ever
made. With Christopher Plummer in his best musical role as Captain Georg von
Trapp (despite the fact his singing voice was dubbed). The dialogue is
funny, the songs are classics and Ted McCord's solid 65mm photography is
totally fantastic. The whole cast of characters are superb especially Richard Haydn
as Max Detweiler, Ben Wright as Herr Zeller and of course Eleanor Parker as
the Baroness. Not forgetting of course Julie Andrews and the children.
Very well cast.
It is also the most successful 65mm film ever made, according to Variety, and
in 2005 it's the 40th
anniversary of the film. I've seen it countless times and wouldn't miss
this opportunity to see it again.
I was told the Schauburg´s presentation was the German premiere of the full
version of the film. "The Sound of Music" never played well in
Germany because the Germans already had their own films about the Trapp
Family Singers. "The Sound of Music" was shortened in Germany and ended with the
wedding scene (making some of the the storyline pointless). The whole finale
was cut from the German release prints. I've encouraged some of the German
Schauburg guests to write the story about "The Sound of Music"
release in Germany.
Sound of Music" was released in Germany on December 25, 1965 in a
completely dubbed version (even the songs were dubbed – according to the
critics poorly) The German title was "MEINE LIEDER MEINE TRÄUME"
(literally translated: “My songs, my dreams”). There was a German film based on the true story with the title
FAMILIE" (1956) and the second film "DIE TRAPP FAMILIE IN AMERIKA"
(1958) Both were huge successes in Germany with a all German popular cast.
Only in 1959 there was the Broadway premiere of the Rodgers and Hammerstein
musical SOUND OF MUSIC at Broadway.
The German release of "The SOUND OF MUSIC" was a flop and
according to industry gossip, the German 20th Century Fox Manager at this
time had to go. There was a re-issue later with an almost 20 minutes
shortened version to eliminate all political issues, to make the film
“friendlier” and easier to “consummate” by the German audience, which ruined
the structure of the movie totally.
The final film of the festival was the classic 70mm Cinerama film
Space Odyssey" in a new 70mm Dolby 6-track magnetic print. I didn't see
it except for the beginning. I have seen it so many times by now, and
unlike "The Sound of Music" I had no problems not seeing it on the
curved 70mm screen. Besides, it had really been a very long day already and I
didn't quite need to see one more movie.
I went back to the hotel and had one final beer with Mr. Sebastian Rosacker
from Sweden. I returned to Copenhagen the next day, full of 70mm-happiness
from the German eye-orgasm.
It was a unique event to see so many Todd-AO films. 2005 has indeed been a
good year for the Todd-AO film legacy with Bradford in March and now
Karlsruhe in October. Oddly enough, no one in the States organized a
similar celebration despite the American origin of the process. On the other
hand, many of the films takes place in Europe, so you might be able to say
Todd-AO is equally European.
The citizens of Karlsruhe are lucky to have the unique Schauburg cinema.
Most of these cinemas are long gone everywhere. Take good care of it -
citizens of Karlsruhe.
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