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"Dunkirk": 70mm Film Projectors Ready to Go!

The 70mm Newsletter
Written and photographed by: David Granadino Date: 25.07.2017
I just saw DUNKIRK in two different 70mm/65mm presentations, one in 70mm wide screen and one in 70mm/15 IMAX film. These two projections of the film, DUNKIRK, were different and both engrossing and an amazing display of film cinematography and color. On Saturday, July 22, 2017, I arrived at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood which was showing DUNKIRK in 70mm wide screen projection on its great Cinerama screen. The theater was sold out for an early afternoon showing. It was gratifying to see the 70mm/65mm film projectors ready to go! Before the film, there was an announcement. There would be two previews in 70mm film, MARVEL COMICS JUSTICE LEAGUE and BLADE RUNNER 2069! What a surprise that both movies will have a 70mm projection as well as the digital medium in cinemas.

As the famous blue curtain opened revealing the huge curved Cinerama screen, the film began with a short explanation of the Dunkirk Evacuation situation of 1940. The film opened in the French town with a soldier running from enemy fire. I noticed the softness of the picture and colors. The softness of the colors gave the impression that I was watching a documentary of sorts and that I was being transported in time to a moment of desperation. The softness of the picture and the expanse of the sea scenes were overwhelming on the Cinerama screen. The sound coming through the surround sound system in the Dome was encompassing the audience. I felt that I was "in the picture." The scenes of the aerial dogfights felt real and the movement on the scene made it feel that I was in that fighter plane with the pilots. When the film was finished, there was a round of applause from the audience! Rarely in Los Angeles, with a city populace not easily impressed, is a film given an appreciative applause. Certainly, DUNKIRK will be on the list of Oscar nominations this year!
More in 70mm reading:

"Dunkirk" in the splendour of 7OMM

Internet link:

But I wanted to compare the 70mm Cinerama screen projection with the IMAX 70mm/15 film presentation. On Monday, July 24, 2017, I went to the AMC Universal City Walk IMAX theater that was showing the 70mm/15 film projection. Arriving at the theater, I found an almost full house at 11:00 in the morning! What really struck me was how the Los Angeles area film fans came out in great numbers to the 70mm presentations of the film! As the film began, there was a major difference from the Cinerama Dome projection and this IMAX projection. The picture and color were not soft but clear and the edges of scenes were sharp. I thought I was watching a digital presentation. I looked back and I saw the huge IMAX projectors with the film reels spinning their magic. I was watching the film as promised in 70mm/15. I was mesmerized by the major difference in picture and sound between the Cinerama Dome and Universal City IMAX. The IMAX picture was striking in its contrasts of color. There was none of the softness that I experience on Saturday. The huge screen, 7 stories tall, engulfed us all in the story. There was a change of film structure during the film. In most of the film, IMAX film frames were used. In the scenes with the main little boat that the film followed, those scenes were done in 70mm wide screen and not in IMAX. When those scenes were shown, the picture went from full screen IMAX to only using the center part of the IMAX screen. When the story left the boat scene, we were back into IMAX. This change was not apparent at the Cinerama Dome. But this change was quite clear at this IMAX theater. And the 70mm wide projection film during the IMAX presentation was different in color and clarity. The boat on the expanse of the English Channel was grainy to sight and it was obvious that there was a change in 70mm film medium. This change was only done in the scenes with the main small boat alone. When the small boat was shown in panoramic scenes, it was back to IMAX again.

At Universal City Walk IMAX theater, the audience once again gave applause of appreciation. I was amused by this show of gratitude since I don't usually hear such cheers after most movies. Having seen the film at the Cinerama Dome and Universal City Walk IMAX, I must say that this film was made for IMAX and works well in this medium. The huge IMAX screen swallowed the viewer into the picture with clear sharp pictures. The Cinerama screen surrounded the viewer in great huge panoramic scenes but in softer tones. Both theaters surrounded the audience with clear and high volume sound. I am a great fan of the Cinerama Dome and its great curved screen. But I must admit, this film was made for the IMAX screen! My recommendation is to see DUNKIRK in IMAX if you can!
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Updated 04-05-22