Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bigger IS Better! (First of a few!)

It is a tradition at the Castro Theatre to present a week or so of 70mm, wide-screen epics! I am SO THERE this year!! The majority of the line up is fantastic! And, yes, though I have almost all of them sitting on my DVD shelves, the opportunity to be completely overwhelmed and absorbed into the sights and sounds of it on a GIANT screen is unmissable!

Seeing as volumes of critical essays have been written about most of these, I will only report upon the theatrical presentation, the film and sound quality and my gut reactions to the experience, as opposed to actually commenting upon the films themselves. They are all classics, for one reason or another, and ALL are worth seeing! The Castro started it with a bang:

"2001: A Space Odyssey" (dir. Stanley Kubrick, UK, 1968, 139 mins.) This was a restored print, including the fabulous pre-show moment: Lygeti's "Atmospheres" is played while the house SLOWLY dims to black before "Thus Spake Zaruthastra" begins! I. Love. It! The print was in excellent shape and the sound just blasted into the space! AND, this is for all of you die-hards out there, it included The INTERMISSION!! I can't stress how fabulous this is, as the beginning of the second part is when HAL has killed Frank and that laborious 10 minutes of silence/heavy breathing takes place! If you watch this in one sitting, the scene is at the 1 hour and 45 minute mark, which is sort of deadly. But having a 10 minute break before beginning it was just the breath of life the scene needs!

The presentation of "Cleopatra" was postponed due to a print error: it was not presented in Dolby Stereo, so it has been rescheduled.

"Lawrence of Arabia" (dir. David Lean, UK, 1962, 216 mins. = 3 hours and 46 mins., PLUS intermission!) This was the restored print that was re-released a few years ago, and the last time I saw it was in the Dolby Screening Room, where it was a near religious experience! This was a pretty good screening at the Castro. There was the same theatric of the SLOW dim during the overture. Peter O'Toole is breathtaking on the huge screen for the first couple of hours before he becomes very dirty. The print was in great shape, though there was a reel here and there that seemed to show a bit more wear. However, for nearly FOUR HOURS of film, it held up pretty well. The sound was... GORGEOUS! Maurice Jarre's score is just breathtaking. You've got to LOVE David Lean's eye for spectacle and landscapes, though to really get through this. And I do! Intermission was at the 2 hour and 20 minute mark, which I found a bit unsettling. However, it does make that last hour and a half easier to take, as that is where the meat of the story lies.

Next: I'm skipping "The Razor's Edge" and going to "Baraka"!


Maxxxxx said...

re "2001: A Space Odyssey": Screams! Screams!
re "Lawrence of Arabia": "Such a pretty bird!"

Charles said...

Big screen Lawrence. Wow! Good stuff even after all these years, and not a special effect to be seen.....