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Festival Report from The 10th Todd-AO 70mm festival in Karlsruhe from 3 – 5 October

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Johan C.M. Wolthuis, International 70mm Publishers, The Netherlands Date: 30.10.2014
Johan Wolthuis and Herbert Born. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

The beautiful Schauburg Theatre in Karlsruhe, which is one of the most prestigious cinemas in Germany, was the place to be for 70mm fans from all over the world. In the first weekend of October people from Germany, England, Switzerland, Danmark, Austria, France, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and even an enthusiastic film student from Japan, came especially to visit this famous film festival. With its unique program of famous 70mm films presented on the large curved Cinerama screen.

On the night before the official start of the festival, theatre manager Herbert Born and Thomas Hauerslev, had organised the European DCP premiere of the 4K Ultra High Definition digital restoration of the first Todd-AO 70mm film from the fifties: “Oklahoma!” screened at 30 frames per second. The same frame rate as with the original Todd-AO film premiere presentation in 1955, nearly six decades ago in the Rivoli Theatre in New York. "Oklahoma!" looked great again, now presented on the large curved screen of the Schauburg cinema, as it was intended by the creator of the Todd-AO process, the late Michael Todd. And the new surround sound 7.1 from this DCP used for the first time with this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, was also a unique experience for this special screening. The 4K digital restoration was created by FotoKem laboratories in Los Angeles, from original 70mm elements, under supervision of Schawn Belston, head of Fox Filmed Entertainment.
More in 70mm reading:

Widescreen History - A New book about wide screen from International 70mm Publishers

Digital & 65mm

Film Presentation for the 21st Century

Statement on 65/70mm

Johan Wolthuis Interview

Book signing in Aalborg - Johan Wolthuis to attend 70mm Event

Internet link:

International 70mm Publishers
Katwoudehof 36
6843 BX Arnhem
The Netherlands



Thomas Hauerslev and daughter Maria, from Denmark, Robert Valkenburg and Johan Wolthuis, from the Netherlands and Margaret Weedon and Mark Lyndon from England.

On Friday morning the 70mm festival started at 10.30 with a 70mm print of “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”. A movie from 1969 with great performances by Peter O'Toole as a college professor and Petula Clark, as his beloved wife, with wonderful songs, playing a unique couple in a kind of love story. Originally photographed in anamorphic Panavision and then blown up to 70mm with 6 channel stereo magnetic sound. Despite it was a blow-up, the film looked great on the curved screen.

In the afternoon an original DEFA film production was presented, with the typical name “KLK AN PTX – DIE ROTE KAPELLE”. Filmed in the former East German Republic, called DDR, in 1971 with East German DEFA 70 cameras on 70mm negativ film and presented in 70mm format 1:2.2. It is a story of a German resistance group against the Fascism in the thirties before the start of the second World War. Because of the Agfa color process, this original print from 1971 was in very good condition and had hardly faded.

On Friday evening there was a screening of a 70mm Todd-AO print of the heroic story of "The Alamo", produced and directed by John Wayne. Despite or because it was an original print from the sixties in Technicolor, there was no color left in the images, it was really completely faded. Together with the dubbing into the German language and credits in German this was a disappointing performance for foreign visitors. Luckily the sound track with the beautiful score by Dimitri Tiomkin was nearly unharmed.
The audience. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

The next Saturday morning started with a great breakfast in the foyer of the Schauburg cinema for all guests of the 70mm event. After this brilliant start of the day, another East German/France coproduction in Agfacolor was presented on the screen: “Die Blechtrommel” (The Tin Drum) a 70mm blow-up from 1979 directed by Volker Schlöndorff. Being adapted from the 1959 novel written by Günther Gras, it has won an Oscar for best foreign film in 1979. The musical score was composed by Maurice Jarre.

In the afternoon another DDR original DEFA 70 production was screened: “EOLOMEA” from 1972. It was filmed in former East Germany in close cooperation with Mosfilm, handling about the disappearance of eight space ships. It was a kind of introduction to “2OO1, A Space Odyssey”, that was presented on the screen after this DEFA 70 film. The main character of Eolomea was played by beautiful Dutch actress, Cox Habbema, in fluent German, no dubbing necessary, because she lived in Berlin for a couple of years. Stanley Kubrick's, "2OO1", was presented in a German dubbed version in 70mm.

Then there was time for a break with a great buffet in the foyer of the Schauburg and because of the beautiful weather we all enjoyed our meal on the outdoor terrace of the cinema on large tables. Meeting friends and talking with them is an important issue of this festival. A compliment goes to the staff of the Schauburg for the excellent food.

After the food, the sensation of the festival started: the 1974 Sensurround movie “Erdbeben” (Earthquake) was presented during 122 minutes (with intermission) photographed in anamorphic Panavision and blown up to 70mm with 6-channel stereo sound and the SENSURROUND sub-woofer system. Especially for this event the 350 seat theatre was equipped with 16 sub-woofers behind the screen, 8 large ones and another 8 small ones. It is still impressive this process from the seventies and getting involved in such a dramatic event as an earthquake, you are looking different times to the ceiling of the cinema as you expect every moment parts of it falling down! When you have never experienced this Sensurround process, this “screening” fills the gap in your motion picture experience. A great compliment for Herbert Born, manager of the theatre.
A clip Fred Zinnemann's 65mm Todd-AO film, filmed 3. August 1953 on the MGM lot in Culver City. Peter Graves (Have you ever seen a grown man naked?) is the dashing young man.  Image by Orla Nielsen

Sunday morning after the breakfast party, another highpoint of the festival started with a 70mm print of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in an original English version with German subtitles. This was an undamaged nice print, a unique experience on the curved screen in 70mm with 6-channel stereo sound, giving this presentation an orchestral outlook: a film musical at its greatest!

After the break Thomas Hauerslev gave a power point presentation of his Todd-AO Adventure. Amazing to see his pictures and to hear his stories, how many people he has met during his research in all these years working for his famous website in70mm.com. After his presentation with unique images and clips of early 70mm films, the program continued with 70mm shorts: two MCS-Superpanorama 70 films made by Dutch director John Fernhout, also known as John Ferno: "Fortress of Peace", 1965, made by order of the Swiss government to show their liability to defend their country. And "Sky over Holland", ordered by the Dutch government for the promotion of their country on the Ottawa World Exhibition of 1968.

The program continued with a 70mm print of “Flammende Jahre” (The Story of Flaming Years). The original title from this in Sovscope 70 produced movie is Powest Plamennych. A former Soviet production from 1961 about the liberation of the Ukraine from the German fascists! After another break with a great buffet in the foyer of the theatre and again dining in the open air, the last festival evening was concluded with two other Sensurround 70mm presentations: "Die Hard" and "Die Hard 2".

Herbert Born, who runs the theatre since 2005 when he started his first Todd-AO festival, can be proud on what he has achieved so far. A yearly great event in his beautiful theatre with not only a great program, but also taking care of his guests, with breakfast, high quality food and drinks, which we all have enjoyed very much. We hope to see you next year in October for the 11th Todd-AO festival celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the great Todd-AO process.
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Updated 31-12-21