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The Astor Theatre: 70 mm Film Program

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by Vanessa (subscribe)
WeekendNotes Chief Editor / Chief Writer / PR & Communications.
Published March 8th 2011
With the advent of the home theatre many cinephiles choose to watch their desired feature films in the comfort and privacy of their own home. And who can blame them - the home theater is certainly an appealing option, particularly as one can replicate the 'cinema experience' with high-definition video, Blu-ray Disc, 3D technology and a range of audio options including Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio and DTS-HD Master Audio.

Also a trip to the modern cinema complex is unfortunately not without its tribulations; the tickets are over-priced, there is the age-old issue of patrons continually chatting throughout the feature, the modern issues of not only mobile phones left on, but also patrons using their phones during a feature (thank you Twitter), the expected interrupting sounds which accompany the consumption of junk food and so forth. Such is the grave situation, it forced Radio 5's Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo to assemble a "A Cinema Code of Conduct."



However despite the negatives which accompany a cinema outing, there are those few feature films which need to be see in all their glory and that is where The Astor Theatre's upcoming 70 mm film program comes in. Now, The Astor Theatre is not like your regular cinema complex; here you can view a feature in a classic and elegant environment and equally enjoy modern state of the art sound and image. The Astor Theatre is currently the only Melbourne cinema which regularly exhibits 70 mm presentations.

Image appears courtesy of The Astor Theatre


So what is the difference between a 70 mm film presentation and the standard 35 mm presentation. Firstly, higher resolution and secondly, the aspect ratio is 2.20:1!



With more image, there is more detail and the effect is not only true to the director's vision, but it is also a thoroughly immersive experience. The 65 mm camera negative/70 mm film print has existed since the birth of cinema but came of age in the 1960s with features such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), My Fair Lady (1964) and The Sound of Music (1965). Due to the high cost involved in processing 65 mm film and a 70 mm film presentation, many of these feature films were eventually released in 35 mm reduction prints for wider distribution.



Today there have been only a handful of instances in which filmmakers have chosen to use 65 mm film - Terrence Malick's The New World (2005) was partially shot in 65 mm, as was Christopher Nolan's Inception (2010). The last film to be filmed entirely in 65 mm was Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996). All three of these features were mostly released in 35 mm reduction prints. The forthcoming Samsara (2011), directed by Ron Fricke, will be filmed on 65 mm stock. IMAX features are usually filmed on 65 mm stock also.



The Astor Theatre has seven 70 mm film presentations including;

2001: A Space Odyssey
(1968), which is a must see event. The epic Stanley Kubrick film was filmed in 65mm and this 70 mm film presentation will be true to the director's vision. It's going to be an entirely new experience!




This special screening will take place on Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 PM.

Ben–Hur (1959) is also screening in a 70mm presentation. This title is another must see event as Ben Hur was filmed in Ultra Panavision 70, which achieved the ultra wide aspect ratio of 2.76:1.



This special screening will take place on Friday, April 22 at 7:30 PM.

The classic sci-fi Aliens (1986), directed by James Cameron is also receiving a 70 mm presentation, however this title was filmed in Super 35 and has been converted to a 70 mm print.



This special screening will take place on Monday, May 16 (second feature), session starts at 7:30 PM.

Baraka (1992) directed by Ron Fricke, was photographed in the 70mm Todd-AO format.



This special screening will take place on Monday, June 13 at 8 PM.

Tim Burton's classic Edward Scissorhands (1990), like Aliens was filmed in Super 35 and has been converted to a 70 mm print.



This special screening will take place on Sunday, May 22 at 7 PM.

Similarly Pink Floyd — The Wall (1982) is another 70mm blow–up from 35mm.



This special screening will take place on Monday, May 2 at 7:30 PM.

Finally, a true 70 mm presentation of Hamlet (1996), one of the last features to be filmed entirely in 65 mm film.



This special screening will take place on Saturday, May 22 at 1:30 PM.

For the full schedule see The Astor Theatre's website. Tickets are usually priced at $12. Keep up to date with all the special events at The Astor Theatre, with Facebook.
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Why? A Great Cinematic Experience
When: Limited Season - From April 23rd
Where: 1 Chapel Street, St Kilda VIC 3182
Cost: Usually $12 (Price may change)
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