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70mm Restorations. A Fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, or what...?

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Per Hauberg, Malling Bio, Denmark Issue 39 - June 1995
"For me, we are not talking about bigger pictures, but about better pictures. It was almost like chiselled into the wall." Per Hauberg running "Dunkirk" in 70mm on DP70 #1473 on Friday 17. June 2022.

Celebrating those big efforts of Mr Harris and Others, to bring back to screen some of the greatest moments of film history, please don't forget being just a little critical. In Newsletter No 38, you print, without objection of any kind, the release press-kit words of 20th Century Fox, telling everybody, that this is the "My Fair Lady", as she was meant to be - Just as Columbia and Universal without shame tried to tell us that "Lawrence of Arabia" and respectively, "Spartacus" was just like then - if not even better.

As we did not buy the one with the Emperor, running around in his bare shirt, paying for a complete new suit, we should not buy this kind of salesman either. I have not seen the re-released "My Fair Lady", but have your own words for, that the (70mm) print looked grainy as if it was it blown up from a 35mm release, and the sound is Dolby-like, just as were "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Spartacus" - that is; all that wonderful mix, really using the 5 front channels for placing the dialogue, where on the screen the actor stands, has been junked, and all dialogue comes from the center channel, totally against the original intentions by making stereophonic sound for wide screens. In re-released "Spartacus", some jerk tried to pan out the sound in selected scenes, but missing the center left and center right channels, the result of this attempt, was even worse than the centre only - dialogue.

Thomas, you have yourself been involved in your first years as a projectionist, and know all about how it should sound. Don't sit there clapping your little hands, whenever somebody gives us a new 70mm print. If the restoration can't give us the films, as we remember them, make them drop the idea! It was so wonderful to see those clear and sharp pictures of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Spartacus", but new audiences had trouble believing that the soundtracks (especially that of "Spartacus") were state of the art - even 30 years ago.

Let's have more 70mm - but the real thing only, please. - and then: Keep up the good work around the Newsletter.

Best wishes
Per Hauberg
Malling Bio
More in 70mm reading:

"My Fair Lady"

7OMM with Per Hauberg. An evening with "Dunkirk" in 70mm at the Malling Bio, Denmark


A Reply

Per Hauberg and 70mm Friday 17. June 2022. Per was born in 1952, just months after CINERAMA premiered on Broadway in New York.

Dear Per

Thank you for your most welcome letter. You raise an interesting point. "If the restoration can't give us the films, as we remember them, make them drop the idea!". Believe me, I will be the first person to advocate the use of 5 discrete channels behind the screen where multi track stereo is used. That was one of the things that I really noticed when I saw my first 70mm film back in 1976. How pleasant it was that dialogue moved on the screen. The illusion was complete.

I find it totally annoying when I see a film with the dialogue centered and the actor stands in the far left corner of the frame saying "I love you". I don't know the official explanation to why films are mixed this way today. Dolby Laboratories' Ioan Allen offered the explanation the today’s audience are confused when dialogue shifts from channel to channel. Even with today’s DTS, SR.D and SDDS 35mm digital sound formats, dialogue are, for most films, centered. It is a simple case to move it when you mix the film. The glory days of 6-track magnetic stereo are long gone. Today it is, sadly enough, 6 track digital mono you are listening to. It is often very loud, yes, but it does not sound like true 6- track magnetic stereo to me.

During the run of the restored "Spartacus" in 70mm in 1990 at Imperial bio, I ran a faded 70mm reel of "Lawrence of Arabia" from the vaults of Danish Film Museum. The screening was witnessed by two London projectionists. The sound on the old 70mm reel was totally different. There was no hiss at all, it was completely silent and it had one thing the new version did not have: fidelity! It just sounded right. It is not very scientifically explained, but it had the old 70mm 6-track magnetically magic to it.

Thank you for the encouragement about the Newsletter.


PS I did write in No 37 page 4, that the new struck 70mm print of "My Fair Lady" that I saw in San Francisco looked like a blow-up.

For those of you who don't know Mr Per Hauberg, he was the distributor of "My Fair Lady" for a number of years and as such, knows the film by heart.
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Updated 21-01-24