Sunday, September 30, 2012

70mm Going on 4K

I find it interesting that the same week my local repertory cinema and Melbourne theatrical institution, The Astor Theatre, announced a week-long season of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master in 70mm they go ahead and screen the new 4K digital restoration of David Lean's Oscar-winning classic, Lawrence of Arabia. I love that the likes of Anderson and Christopher Nolan are still not only using film, but daring cinephiles and non-cinephiles alike to confront the issue of celluloid versus digital. The Dark Knight Rises' 70mm IMAX footage has been one of the highlights of my cinema year so far, and I highly anticipate The Master (although my cooler reaction to There Will Be Blood has tempered my expectations below full on hair-tugging excitment like I am with Les Miserables) in the classical film format.

In the meantime, you still have time to see Lawrence of Arabia in its gobsmacking digital re-issue. Not only is it playing at The Astor, and has been for about a week now, but it will start touring the world for its 50th anniversary. It's interesting to see this film, renowned for its classic 70mm presentation, is now making the rounds in the next generation of cinema format. Sadly, the existing prints are getting sadly degraded through misuse - The Astor's original 70mm print was exported to Korea and, horrifically, had subtitles laced onto it that couldn't be removed! - so 4K it is. It's undeniably a stunning looking file (I guess we shouldn't keep calling them prints, yeah?) and when projected on actual 4K projector it will surely make audiences recognise the ways David Lean's use of the camera defined everything the word "epic" entails. I wasn't all that taken by the film's post-intermission second half once it begins dabbling in Arabian politics, but the first half with T.E. Lawrence's trek proving to be a rousing and magnetic viewing experience.

At roughly four hours long - with overture and intermission - it's a lengthy watch, but anybody who would rather watch it at home, on DVD or Blu-ray, rather than in a cinema is mad. As for The Master? The 70mm presentation is coming to Melbourne cinemagoers as an early Christmas present, running from 16 December - 22 December. It will be hard to wait the several weeks it will be in general release beforehand, but I think it will be worth it! You can pre-purchase your tickets, too!

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