Wolfram Hannemann's 70mm Film Introductions
Widescreen Weekend 2010
The 70mm Newsletter
by: Wolfram Hannemann
Wolfram Hannemann from Stuttgart in Germany introducing
70mm films. Image by Tom March
Good Evening and welcome to this Friday night screening of DIE HARD.
Just a few days ago Duncan McGregor, Chief Projectionist of this lovely
theatre, contacted me and asked whether I would be willing to do a short
introduction to this action packed blockbuster from 1988. It will be my
pleasure, I replied, and began with my research for this film. Suddenly I
realized why Duncan wanted me to introduce DIE HARD: the real bad guy in
that movie is a German (portrayed by Alan Rickman). So what would more
appropriate than having a German telling you a bit about John McTiernan's
crime thriller. A typical example of Duncan's sense of humor I guess...
Here it should be mentioned that in the German dubbed theatrical version of
the film the German terrorists were made into „international“ terrorists by
giving them English names. „Hans Gruber“ became "Jack Gruber", „Karl“ became
„Charlie“, „Heinrich“ became „Henry“ etc. And to make things even worse: the
German that the terrorists speak in the original version, which we are going
to see, is sometimes grammatically incorrect and meaningless.
DIE HARD reunited the team that made the 1987 box office success PREDATOR
starring Arnold Schwarzenegger: director John McTiernan und producers
Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver. It is based on a novel by Roderick Thorpe
titled „Nothing lasts forever“. Which certainly proves right for the biggest
star in the movie: the brand new 34-story Fox Plaza office tower in Los
Angeles' Century City, portraying the fictional Nakatomi Building in the
film. Oh yes – we have another big star in the movie: Bruce Willis. He was
the key to director John McTiernan's vision of the film. Willis would repeat
his role of New York police officer John McLane in all three sequels to DIE
Originally John McLane was to be played by Richard Gere. But he turned it
down. The producers really took a risk by casting Bruce Willis as the action
hero because at that time none of Willis‘ films did big business, like Blake
Edwards‘ BLIND DATE. And yet another Blake Edwards film starring Willis,
SUNSET, had yet to be seen by the public. Nevertheless Willis asked for five
million dollars and Fox agreed. As post-production neared completion in the
late spring and early summer of 1988, bad reaction to the film’s trailer
caused anxiety for the filmmakers. The audience apparently couldn’t buy
Bruce Willis as an action hero and a new advertising campaign commenced
leaving the star out! To make matters worse SUNSET opened to bad reviews and
zero business. The studio panicked! Suddenly the film was sold as a building
in jeopardy. Well – the rest is history. DIE HARD opened July 15, 1988, and
true to its word, blew audiences through the back wall of the theatre,
grossing nearly 80 million dollars in the process. So the big screen had its
new action hero – Bruce Willis.
Production designer Jackson DeGovia created the interior sets that would
become the offices of the Nakatomi Corporation. The gigantic main floor
office complex was built on Stage 15 at the Twentieth Century Fox film lot.
It was three stories high and reflected the influence of the Japanese as
well as Frank Lloyd Wright. Surrounding the stage was a 260 degree cyclorama
of west Los Angeles, which was used in the shots in top floor offices. It
was designed to be lit from behind to simulate different times of day.
Regarding special effects, John McTiernan approached visual effects producer
Richard Edlund whose credits include amongst many others POLTERGEIST and
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. While many of the film's pyrotechnical displays
were created on set, some of the most complex sequences were achieved
through the use of miniature explosions and scale models, like the scene
where the top of the Nakatomi building blows off and destroys two
helicopters in its wake.
Director of Photography Jan de Bont, who later would become a director
himself making movies like SPEED and TWISTER, photographed DIE HARD with
Panavision anamorphic lenses on 35mm film stock whereas the visual effects
were done in 65mm at Boss film. Jan de Bont’s camerawork can also be seen
in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER which will be screened on Monday and which is
yet another blockbuster directed by John McTiernan. There is even one
character which appears in both DIE HARD and THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. His
name is Stanley and he is a teddy bear. So look out for him!
The music score for DIE HARD was composed by Michael Kamen who had to write
it under enormous pressure. In the end much of his music was reassigned to
different parts of the film. So a large slice of the music is not exactly
where it was supposed to be, with many scenes using repeated cues looped and
tracked from all over the place. There are even cues by other composers
included, like an unused track from James Horner’s ALIENS as well as a cue
from John Scott’s score for MAN ON FIRE.
DIE HARD received four Academy Award nominations for Visual Effects, Sound,
Film Editing and Sound Effects Editing.
So be prepared for a real nail-biting cinematic rollercoaster ride presented
in 70mm and 6-track Dolby Stereo magnetic sound.
in 70mm reading:
Meeting Abel, Baker, and
Charlie: The 2010 Bradford Widescreen Weekend
Introduction to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
John Harvey "Mr. Cinerama" in
Speech for John Harvey
WSW 2010 program
Widescreen Weekend Home
Academy of the Wide Screen Weekend
Limited Time Offer!
The M.C.S.-70 Process
Good Evening, Ladies & Gentlemen and hello
Welcome to this late show!
If you are not able to follow my introduction due to my perfect German
accent, don’t worry. Most of it is just some useless information which helps
the projection team getting some rest.
In 1964 Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke started to work on a
science-fiction movie script which was inspired by „The Sentinel“, a short
story written by Arthur C. Clarke. Four years later their collaboration
resulted in a film regarded by many movie lovers as a milestone in
science-fiction filmmaking: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Both Clarke and Kubrick
shared an Academy Award nomination for „Best Screenplay“. 15 years later
Arthur C. Clarke came up with a sequel to that milestone: „2010: Odyssey
Two“. In 1984 Metro Goldwyn Mayer hired Peter Hyams to bring Clarke’s new
novel to the big screen. With films like OUTLAND, CAPRICORN ONE, THE STAR
CHAMBER and HANOVER STREET in his portfolio – all of which got 70mm
releases, by the way - Hyams was not a newbie to the filmmaking business. He
also served as his own screenplay writer in all these films.
On the screenplay for „2010“ Hyams worked very closely with Arthur C.
Clarke, breaking new grounds by using an e-mail connection between Hyams in
Hollywood and Clarke, who was located in Sri Lanka at that time, using a
Kaypro portable computer and a modem. In 1984 such an e-mail connection was
practically unheard of in the academic community. It certainly was the first
for the film world. Their communications turned into the book „The Odyssey
File - The Making of 2010“.
„2010“ also marks another breakthrough for Peter Hyams for it was the first
time that he also served as his own cinematographer. According to Richard
Edlund, the film’s visual effects supervisor, Hyams is a director who
reaches into all of the corners and who wants to understand everything. He
was in the unique position of producing, writing, directing and shooting
Standard shooting for „2010“ was done in 35mm Panavision anamorphic, while a
lot of its special visual effects were done in 65mm by Entertainment Effects
Group, lead by Richard Edlund. Edlund, well known for his marvellous work on
visual effects for films like POLTERGEIST, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and the
original STAR WARS films, preferred the 65mm film format because it gave him
a one-third larger image area to work with than the VistaVision format he
used at ILM.
One of the spaceship models they had to build for miniature filming was the
„Discovery“, which can be seen in Kubrick’s „2001“ already. The original
model was stored together with other models and plans as well as „2001“ sets
in a commercial warehouse in England. However, since the studio didn’t want
to pay for storage anymore, everything was trashed. So the „Discovery“ had
to be divined by Edlund and his colleagues by viewing a 70mm print of
While 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is the acknowledged turning point in modern
special effects, „2010“ could be considered as a milestone for setting a new
standard for a new branch of special effects: video effects. Back in the 80s
video images had already invaded daily life and in consequence of the trend
they started to invade film as well. In „2010“ several important story
points are made on video monitors. The monitors are more than fancy
wallpaper. For a director like Peter Hyams who believed that every frame of
film is as important as every other frame it made sense to take his video
playback needs to a group of professionals. That is when a company called
Video Image came on board of the team.
In 1985 „2010“‘s visual effects were nomintaed for an Academy Award, along
with nominations for Best Makeup, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction
and Best Sound.
The music score for the film was originally composed by Tony Banks, but was
ultimately replaced by a score by David Shire, which is 90 percent
electronic, with an acoustic orchestra not employed until the climax of the
picture. Tony Banks later used parts of his own score for the film STARSHIP
If you are a fan of cameo appearances you should watch out for Arthur C.
Clarke and Stanley Kubrick. Clarke can be seen sitting on a park bench in
front of the White House, feeding the pigeons, and on the cover of Time
magazine as the American president. Kubrick can be seen on Time magazine
cover, too, portraying the Soviet premier.
For all those computer freaks out there let me tell you that the voice of
the SAL 9000 computer was actually performed by Candice Bergen, though the
role is credited to "Olga Mallsnerd," a pseudonym combining the surname of
Bergen's spouse (director Louis Malle) and that of Mortimer Snerd, one of
her father Edgar Bergen's famous puppet characters. The futuristic computer
that Roy Scheider is using on the beach planning for the mission is an Apple
IIc with an LCD screen. The Apple IIc was a full-strength Apple computer
with 128k of memory, two serial ports and a mouse in an 11in by 12in box
small enough to fit in a briefcase. Impressive stuff at the time. And last
but not least the monitor box that's on top of SAL 9000 early in the movie
is shaped exactly like the Kaypro portable computer that Arthur C. Clarke
used to communicate via email with Peter Hyams during the movie's
I would like to close my introduction with an example of how visionary
„2010“ really was when released in 1984. Just closely watch the scene in
which Dr. Heywood Floyd (played by Roy Scheider) stands in the doorway of
his sleeping son's room. On the wall to the left of his bed you can spot a
poster of an Olympic runner with the text "Beijing 08" on the bottom. Bear
in mind that the film was made in 1984, and the Olympic Committee did not
chose Beijing for the Olympics until July 2001! It is a fun example of life
And now have fun with this 70mm blow up presentation featuring a full blown
6-track Dolby Stereo magnetic soundtrack
Ladies and Gentlemen, hello Widescreeners!
Welcome to our Sunday afternoon presentation of FLYING CLIPPER. Since this
is a German motion picture Duncan thought that it would be appropriate to
rely on my heavy German accent to do the intro for this film. But you must
not worry – my intro will be in English, whereas the film’s narration,
however, will be in proper German without any English accent!
FLYING CLIPPER will prove once and for all that our meanwhile famous ironic
saying that „If it is in colour it can’t be 70mm!“ is completely wrong! The
print which you are going to see was made by FotoKem in 2009 from original
65mm materials. It was especially made for last year‘s 70mm retrospective at
the Berlin Film Festival and it probably will take your breath away with
regards to picture focus. Some of you may find that the print is a bit too
dark, but according to one of the film’s cinematographers, Mr. Heinz
Hölscher, there wasn‘t much light available anyway when they were shooting
it. In my opinion this really is a minor flaw which certainly will not spoil
FLYING CLIPPER – TRAUMREISE UNTER WEISSEN SEGELN had its world premiere on
December 19, 1962 in Munich and is considered as the first German production
filmed in 65mm, using the then brand new MCS70 Superpanorama camera system
designed by Jan Jacobsen. The plot of this travelogue, if there is any at
all, resembles a lot to the 1958 Cinemiracle film WINDJAMMER, which you may
have seen yesterday. Even the German narration in both films is done by the
same actor, Hans Clarin, who is well known to German audiences as the voice
of „Pumuckl“, an animated goblin from a children’s program. He also lend his
voice to „Kookie“ in the German dubbed version of the famous American TV
series „77 Sunset Strip“. Hans Clarin died in 2005 at the age of 75.
When production began on FLYING CLIPPER the film’s title still was
WINDJAMMER – 2. JOURNEY. This however caused a law suit against its
producers, MCS Film KG Munich and Rudolf Travnicek. It was Cinemiracle
International Pictures Inc London which won a court junction to prevent the
producers from producing, printing and publicly presenting their film due to
their breaching of certain contractual agreements which they entered when
taking over the film WINDJAMMER several years before. Luckily the law suit
was settled and the film’s title was changed to FLYING CLIPPER.
Hermann Leitner and Rudolf Nussgruber share the credit for directing FLYING
CLIPPER. It is most interesting to note that after this big screen adventure
both of them went on directing exclusively for television. What an irony,
FLYING CLIPPER was released in the USA in 1964 under the title MEDITERRANEAN
HOLIDAY and advertised as „Wonderama“ featuring narration by Burl Ives and
some extra material not included in the original version.
The music for FLYING CLIPPER was composed and conducted by Italian composer
Riz Ortolani and performed by the Graunke symphony orchestra.
Nowadays FLYING CLIPPER really can be regarded as of historic value, because
a lot of the places visited during the film have changed their apperance
completely. It also features some famous people, who are no longer with us.
Among them are Grace Kelly and Graham Hill. So it was essential in more than
just one way to preserve this piece of film.
Fotokem not only struck this brand new print but also provided a new digital
sound mix for the film as well. In fact two versions were made: a 5.1 re-mix
for later use on DVD or Blu-ray and the original discrete 6-track mix. I am
sure that we have got the latter one for our presentation. Special thanks
goes to the German Bundesfilmarchiv in Berlin for making this screening
possible. So enjoy your journey!
Quest For Fire
LA GUERRE DU FEU, which is QUEST FOR FIRE’s
original title, was not only a real big adventure movie, but it was likewise
adventurous in its making. Just imagine: an expensive movie without big
stars and with a language nobody will understand.
It was French director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s most ambitious project at the
beginning of the 1980s. Born in 1943 Annaud started his career in the film
industry by becoming a quite successful director of funny commercials. Soon
famous writer/producer/actor/director Claude Berri became aware of Annauds
talent and wanted him to direct comedies. However, Annaud wasn’t interested
in comedies. Although being a total box office disaster in France, his first
feature film, BLACK AND WHITE IN COLOR, won him an Academy Award for Best
Foreign Language Film in 1977. This opened a lot of doors for Annaud. Being
independent due to the money he made with his commercials and holding an
Oscar in his hands he now was in a position to choose his own projects.
Claude Berri suggested a screenplay to him which was set in the Far North
dealing with a man and a wolf and asked him to meet Roman Polanski’s
screenwriter Gerard Brach to discuss the project. So they met and soon both
felt that the story had not enough cinematic value. While he was leaving
Annaud said to Brach that there was one thing he liked about the story. When
asked what this might be he replied: „It is the prehistoric fear of the
script’s hero.“ That was when Brach suggested LA GUERRE DU FEU, a story by
J.H. Rosny Sr. which Annaud read as a kid in „Mickey Mouse“. This was the
starting point for Annaud’s most spectacular movie.
Financing was another story. The project started as an American production
with both Columbia Pictures and then 20th Century Fox involved, but ended up
as a French-Canadian production. Even Frank Sinatra was involved at one
point in the decision process of whether or not a studio should give its
„Go!“ to the project. And he quite liked the idea, so the studio green
lighted the movie.
Anthony Burgess, who was not only the writer of the novel A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
but a linguist as well, was hired to create the prehistoric language heard
in the movie. There were about 400 words in the end which were based on the
Indo-European language. Every actor had to learn this artificial language.
It is said that during filming even the technicians on the set were
communicating using this language.
Body language and gestures were created by Desmond Morris who rehearsed them
with the actors for several hours a day.
The make up for the actors, which won Sarah Monzani and Michèle Burke an
Academy Award, took a whole year to develop. And it was very time consuming.
It needed three hours for each actor to put it on and two hours to take it
off, thus limiting shooting time per day to two or maybe three hours.
At the beginning of the 1980s post-production for a movie used not to be
what it is nowadays. Things like digital visual effects could only be dreamt
of and so all the effects on QUEST FOR FIRE had to be done on set. The fact
that it was filmed solely on location without any studio work made it even
more complex to achieve. The original plans to film it in Iceland did not
work out and so the on location shooting was done in Scotland, Canada and
even Kenya. Four years later Sydney Pollack would shoot OUT OF AFRICA at the
exact same location in Kenya, by the way.
As a filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud heavily relies on film music. It is very
common for him to write lengthy instructions to the composer he is working
with, which sometimes resulted in a struggle between the two artists.
Gabriel Yared and James Horner were among the composers Annaud got in
trouble with. QUEST FOR FIRE marks the first collaboration between Annaud
and French composer Philippe Sarde, who earned an Academy Award nomination
in 1981 for his score for Roman Polanski’s TESS. Sarde’s score for QUEST FOR
FIRE was inspired by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki and he did it the
big way by not only using the London Symphony Orchestra with its 120
musicians, but adding „Les Percussions de Strasbourg“ as well which provided
the impressive percussion work. Seven years after QUEST FOR FIRE Annaud
hired Philippe Sarde again to score his film THE BEAR.
QUEST FOR FIRE was photographed by the late Claude Agostini in the 35mm
anamorphic format using Panavision cameras.
The print which you will be seeing today has been sleeping in the museum’s
vault for quite a long time now. It was not possible to show the film
earlier due to its unsolved screening rights. Only recently these rights
could be cleared and so we are happy to present QUEST FOR FIRE in this 70mm
blow up print. It is the version which was released in the UK back in 1982.
Due to censorship reasons it had to be cut by eight seconds showing a scene
which made the impression that a wolf is set on fire. Animal cruelty
obviousely was or still is a „No Go“. But I can assure you that we still
have some other violent scenes in the movie which have not been cut. So this
prehistoric adventure will not be spoiled by the missing eight seconds.
The Hunt for Red October
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER from 1990 is the
closing film for this year’s Widescreen Weekend. It’s screenplay by
Larry Ferguson and Donald Stewart was based on Tom Clancy’s novel and
the film was directed by John McTiernan, the same guy who also directed
DIE HARD which we were running on Friday night. If he hadn’t had an
obligation already to direct this film, Mister McTiernan would have
directed DIE HARD 2 instead, which subsequentially was directed by Renny
Looking at THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER‘s cast it definitely has to be
regarded as a manly film: Gates McFadden with Louise Borras (as Jack
Ryan's wife and daughter) and Denise E. James as a flight attendant have
the only credited female speaking roles, and all of their dialog scenes
are over before the end of the opening credits. In addition most of
Gates McFadden's role as Cathy Ryan was deleted from the final print.
Klaus Maria Brandauer was originally cast as captain Marko Ramius, but
broke his leg prior to filming. It was Brandauer who suggested his
friend Sean Connery for the role, having known him since they appeared
together in NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. After being faxed the script, Sean
Connery initially turned the role down on the basis of the plot being
unrealistic for the post-Cold War era. Whoever sent the fax neglected to
include the foreword explaining the movie as historical; once Connery
received the foreword, he accepted the role.
The original cast did also include Kevin Costner, who was cast as Jack
Ryan, who is now played by Alec Baldwin. He accepted the role of Jack
Ryan because Harrison Ford turned it down. Some years later Harrison
Ford starred as Jack Ryan in both PATRIOT GAMES and CLEAR AND PRESENT
There is a connection between John McTiernan’s RED OCTOBER and DIE HARD,
which can be regarded as kind of a „Director’s Trademark“. In RED
OCTOBER Jack Ryan, played by Alec Baldwin, takes a teddy bear home with
him at the end of the film. Bruce Willis in the role of McClane has one
at the start of DIE HARD. It's the same teddy bear and it is named
„Stanley“ and even gets a credit in RED OCTOBER’s end titles.
A good music score always was (or still is) part of director John
McTiernan’s approach in film making. No wonder then that he likes to
work with some of the most talented film composers, among which were
Jerry Goldsmith, Bill Conti, Alan Silvestri and Michael Kamen. The score
for RED OCTOBER was written by Basil Poledouris, whose music we listened
to earlier this morning when we saw THE BLUE LAGOON. This August
Poledouris would have celebrated his 65th birthday. However, he sadly
died of cancer in 2006.
As a student Poledouris went to the University of Southern California,
where he studied the arts of directing, cinematography, editing, sound
and of course music. It was also at USC where he met John Milius and
Randal Kleiser, both acclaimed directors with whom he would work in the
future. Even though Basil had already composed music to John Milius'
much talked about BIG WEDNESDAY (1978), his real breakthrough came in
1982 when he composed the score to Milius' epic fantasy movie, CONAN THE
BARBARIAN. The powerful themes that Basil created for this movie opened
the eyes of the movie industry, as well as the public, and it is
arguably one of the best soundtracks of the 80s. I still remember the
first time I listened to the soundtrack LP for CONAN. Wow! What a talent
His score for THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER again makes use of a big
orchestra and choir and perfectly serves the movie with a lot of Russian
influences in the music.
By the way: did you know that there is a feature film which is dedicated
to two late film composers who have worked for director John McTiernan?
The names in question are the already mentioned Basil Poledouris and
Michael Kamen, who did the score for DIE HARD. The film in question is
titled CAPTAIN ABU RAED, a Jordanian movie directed by Amin Matalaga in
2007, which I highly recommend – not only for its superb music score,
but also for its screenplay.
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER is one of the rare movies which makes use of
the so-called „split surround“ channel layout in its 70mm version.
Having not only one channel feeding the surround speakers located in the
auditorium, but two independent channels providing real stereo in the
surrounds was restricted to 70mm screenings in the pre-digital sound
age. I first saw THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER during its initial run at the
Empire theatre in London in 1990, where it was shown in 70mm with the
added attraction of Dolby’s 7-track system. And it was amazing! Don’t
worry: Pictureville is capable of reproducing it the same way. RED
OCTOBER’s sound mix will really make you believe that you are
underwater. A lot of work went into creating all sorts of sound effects
needed to make the film sound authentic. Getting the right torpedo sound
was one of the major problems. This may be due to the fact that the
sound of an actual torpedo is classified information. Since the sound
itself is vital to the defense of the submarine, tapes only existed in
the military world! With the extensive guidance from Ron Patton, who did
work for a company called „Sonalysts“ which does consultation and
training for nuclear power plants as well as sophisticated military
computer program design, and thus having heard the real thing, the
film’s sound designers finally succeeded in creating the torpedo sound.
It took them four months. The final version was a combination of a speed
boat going by, a Ferrari, animal screeches and growls, bubbles, a
motorscooter and a screeching screen-door spring. Well done, boys! No
wonder the film’s sound effects editing was honoured with an Academy
Award. The sound mix itself got only nominated, for the Oscar went to
DANCES WITH WOLVES in that year.
By the way: THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER was one of the first American
laserdisc releases which featured a Dolby Digital audio track. I
remember when we first put it into our player and test listened to it.
After a while suddenly the right back surround channel muted! It occured
to be a mastering problem with the laserdisc and the whole batch had to
be re-done. Bare in mind that the disc was THX certified! Sometimes you
really wonder what they did get their money for!
Anyway, I am confident that Duncan and his team have carefully prepared
and aligned this 70mm print. So just sit back and relax – the hunt is
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