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"2001" in 70mm


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#1 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 01:24 AM

Tonight I had the rare privilege to see a brand new 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece at the Walter Reade Theater. This was the first time I'd seen it in the theater and I was in complete awe. The print was in pristine condition and I was struck by the lush colors. For as many times as I'd seen it, I felt like I was watching it for the first time. A Blu-Ray on the best home entertainment system in existence does not even come close to doing a film shot on 65mm any kind of justice...especially 2001.

Plus, there was a Q&A with Keir Dullea after the film. Being a Kubrick fan ever since he'd seen Paths of Glory, he expressed just how privileged he felt to be a part of the film even when they were shooting it. Seemed like a very nice man.

This was a true cinematic experience.
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#2 KH Martin

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 08:15 PM

I am so jealous! The last time I saw it in 70mm was in 1989 (first time was in L.A. in 68, when I was 7 -- really ruined me for ordinary movies!) A 35mm print circulated 10-11 years back that I caught and was able to show my wife (who was blown away even with that version), but I'd sure like to see it properly again. They keep running it as a blu-ray at a little theater nearby, but that's just going to trivialize it to see it in that fashion.

Was there one shot during the hotel room sequence at the end where everything went kind of pink? I noticed that on the 35mm, and I think I noticed it earlier on prints as well, but I assume the source is still pristine.
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#3 Mark Dunn

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 07:35 AM

Good for you. You can't even be sure of seeing it on 35mm. here anymore.
I was fortunate enough to see the only 70mm. screening on January 1st., 2001, at the NFT here with a couple of Kubricks in the audience.
Tickets were only £3.50 too.
There is a pinkish shot in the hotel scene; it's high-key so more prone to tints, but I think it's intended.
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#4 John Holland

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 02:31 PM

I saw "2001" on the opening night in 68 [i think] at the Casino Cinerama booked the tickets months before , in the middle half way back . WOW . I then saw it loads of times just ! in 70mm . and it wasnt the same spoilt forever the Cinerama experience. Will stay with me forever .
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#5 Doug Palmer

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 04:14 PM

Yes those first 1960s Casino screenings were a truly unforgetable experience. It was so unlike any scifi film before and probably since. I can still see and hear the apemen scenes on that deep curve screen. The only shot in the whole film which I recall looked a bit wrong was the long spaceship side-view taking on a curve. But to do these sort of effects for Cinerama must have been a very courageous thing for Kubrick, knowing that everything would be so scrutinised by the audience. Also many shots were held for really long duration, unlike the speedy stuff you see today in such films. The magestic tempo alone would look completely wrong I should imagine on a small screen. With Cinerama your eyes were gazing everywhere.
Hope that 70mm print surfaces over here in UK one day soon !


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#6 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 04:57 PM

Was there one shot during the hotel room sequence at the end where everything went kind of pink? I noticed that on the 35mm, and I think I noticed it earlier on prints as well, but I assume the source is still pristine.


It didn't jump out at me initially, but now that you mention it there may have been one shot like that.

Yup, I think seeing 2001 in Cinerama is the only thing that could top this.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 08:06 PM

I believe "2001" was never released in 3-panel Cinerama prints (6-perf 35mm) -- it was shown in 70mm prints in its original release, in Cinerama theaters (which had curved screens.) Whether any optically corrected 70mm prints or special lenses were used to correct focus/distortion from a flat single strip print onto a curved screen is unknown, I don't think any prints of "2001" like that have turned up.

I've seen "2001" in a 70mm print over a dozen times in the past 30 years, twice at the Cinerama Dome on a curved screen. I've seen original release 70mm prints that had turned pink in vaults (but were razor sharp, probably off of the o-neg) and new 70mm prints made from protection copies, and in between prints probably struck in the late 1970's or early 1980's. Some newer 70mm prints showed that a few shots had been replaced by dupes over the years, probably due to damage to the original negative in sections.

I last saw it in 2K DLP at the Museum of the Moving Image on a moderate sized screen and it wasn't the same. A 4K release would be nice but I still prefer to see it in 70mm on a huge screen.
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#8 KH Martin

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 09:38 PM

I believe "2001" was never released in 3-panel Cinerama prints (6-perf 35mm) -- it was shown in 70mm prints in its original release, in Cinerama theaters (which had curved screens.) Whether any optically corrected 70mm prints or special lenses were used to correct focus/distortion from a flat single strip print onto a curved screen is unknown, I don't think any prints of "2001" like that have turned up.


The project was SOLD as 3-panel job, but they never shot anything in that format, going Super Panavision. It was hard enough to do any of the macro nebula stuff and the slit-scan with a regular camera.

I don't know if it was in the Bizony book or somewhere else that I came across this, but It was very late in production when they finally saw the film on a curved screen, and I guess that was a shock to many systems. I guess all the UK MGM screening rooms must have been flat.

Other possible source may have been John Alcott ... I read a pretty lengthy transcript of an interview with him when I was with CINEFEX, parts of which were included in their seriously incomplete and occasionally inaccurate article on the film.
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#9 Mark Dunn

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 06:35 AM

A bit more evidence against rectified prints might be the reference in Jerome Agel's book to 'hunched backs' at Cinerama screenings. There are some extreme wide angle shots which must have looked very odd- Space Station Five interiors, some of the stuff at TMA-1, the carousel.
It's like talking about some revered ancient artifact, isn't it?

Edited by Mark Dunn, 24 December 2012 - 06:37 AM.

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#10 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 09:31 PM

It's like talking about some revered ancient artifact, isn't it?


That's because it is. ;)
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#11 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 11:45 PM

The project was SOLD as 3-panel job, but they never shot anything in that format, going Super Panavision. It was hard enough to do any of the macro nebula stuff and the slit-scan with a regular camera.


Pacific Theatres bought Cinerama Inc. in 1963 & replaced the 3 panel process with single film production and projection.

'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' shot in Ultra Panavision was released in 1963, though filmed in 1962.
Cinerama/ Pacific Theatres did not produce it, but picked it up for release.

'2001' was released in 1968, though had been shooting for a few years.
the single film Cinerama was established by then. Most of the movies were shot in Ultra Panavision or Technirama.


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if this clip had better resolution, you'd be able to see Kubrick reflected in the visor at 2:00
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#12 KH Martin

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 01:42 PM

Pacific Theatres bought Cinerama Inc. in 1963 & replaced the 3 panel process with single film production and projection.

'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' shot in Ultra Panavision was released in 1963, though filmed in 1962.
Cinerama/ Pacific Theatres did not produce it, but picked it up for release.

'2001' was released in 1968, though had been shooting for a few years.


Was this common knowledge? I'm pretty sure Trumbull is the one who said Kubrick had gotten MGM to sign off on it originally on the basis of 3-panel, but that nobody really thought it was going to be possible (I'm thinking this would have been late 64/early 65 ... the film didn't start shooting till December 65.)
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 02:26 PM

There were a number of Cinerama productions announced in the early-mid 1960's that ended up using Ultra Panavision or Super Panavision -- I read that "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (in planning since 1948) actually shot the first 3 days on Cinerama before switching to 65mm Ultra Panavision.

Keep in mind that "How the West Was Won" was one of only two narrative features shot in 3-camera Cinerama (ignoring the Cinemiracle feature) and was released in 1962. I'm sure that looked so impressive at the time that a lot of filmmakers announced that they would shoot an epic in Cinerama, only to end up using 65mm, whether because it was more flexible (not limited to a single focal length) or because the Pacific Theater corporation that took over Cinerama was phasing out 3-panel projection anyway.

Kubrick at one point even considered switching to 35mm 1.85 for "2001" so I don't think any format was locked in stone until shooting began (I think it was Trumbull who talked him out of 35mm 1.85...)

When you see the Kubrick exhibit at LACMA and see the 65mm camera equipment he bought to shoot "Napoleon" on, it becomes even sadder that he never made that movie.
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#14 John Holland

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 05:26 AM

What 65mm camera equipment did he buy David ?
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#15 Mark Dunn

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 07:02 AM

It's too bad the Kubrick exhibition hasn't been here and isn't planned to, considering he made most of his pictures here (and even gave his archive to my old college, LCP). Perhaps the curators haven't forgotten the scandalous closing of our only film museum, MOMI, years ago.
Once I even managed to miss it in Gent by a couple of months.
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 10:53 AM

The museum had some 65mm lenses that he owned, not sure if there was a 65mm camera on display but he probably owned something for testing.
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#17 KH Martin

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 12:19 PM

Kubrick at one point even considered switching to 35mm 1.85 for "2001" so I don't think any format was locked in stone until shooting began (I think it was Trumbull who talked him out of 35mm 1.85...)


That's a new bit of info for me, thanks! I'm always trying to amass more info on 2001 and ST - TMP -- kind of perverse fascination there about the masterpiece and (as Sean Connery might voice it) the crashhterpiece.

Edited by KH Martin, 26 December 2012 - 12:20 PM.

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