Tuesday, 13 July 2010

On the "Big Screen": 3 films I want re-released...

'Breathless' and 'Rashomon' on limited re-releases recently (and 'The Godfather' and 'The Red Shoes' last year) it occurs to me that there are a great many old classics well worth a new theatrical run. The added power afforded a film on the big screen makes watching it a whole new experience. I have to admit that I never found 'The Godfather' affected me in any way until I saw it projected onto a large screen in a large dark room in front of an audience. As I wrote in my review of Godard's 'Breathless', the rules which apply to the cinema as a social space (no talking, no phones etc) make it ideal place to see a film properly.

As the way we consume film changes, perhaps theatrical re-releases of older films could become more commonplace. Think about it: if, in the future, the cinema is not the first place you can see a new film then it has to become something else. And that something else is a place where film enthusiasts go out of their way to have an experience, specifically wanting to see a film in that way and under those conditions. If future people can (legally) download new films to their phones, or iPads or directly to their frontal lobes or whatever, then what difference does it make if a cinema shows 'Spiderman 10' or 'The Seventh Seal'? In fact the latter may prove more popular as the 'Spiderman 10' crowd may care less where and how (and at what visual quality) they see the film.

Of course this could signal an end for multiplexes. This elite crowd who want to pay to see Bergman projected in a theatre will not settle for crummy customer service or a poorly projected image. Instead it will be prestigious and historic venues (like Brighton's Duke of York's, Brixton's Ritzy or Edinburgh's Cameo) that may flourish, becoming an equivalent of going to the opera or to see a play. For many patrons their local cinemas already provide that sort of experience and (hopefully) will continue to do so for many more years.

Anyway, I really started this post to suggest some old films I'd quite like to see given a theatrical re-release at some point soon. Here are three, though I could pick many more:

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Before home video, Disney used to constantly re-release their "animated classics" in cinemas. Every few years each film would do the rounds again, allowing a new generation of kids to see 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves' and 'Pinocchio' who would never have had a chance to see them before. Disney still operate this policy on DVD today, with films deleted and then later re-released in an ever repeating cycle, however the chance of seeing many of the older films in a theatre is now much more slender.

'Sleeping Beauty' is my favourite (for reasons that will come apparent during the week, when I'll post a retrospective look at the film) and so I would love to catch it at the cinema. Especially in its original "Super Technirama 70" format (now available on an amazing Blu-ray). Admittedly Disney gave the film its last brief theatrical run as recently as 2008... but I think that must have been in the US, because I never heard about it!

Annie Hall (1977)

Apparently re-released in the UK in 2001, 'Annie Hall' is quite simply a masterwork. Personally I'd love to see Woody Allen's opening monologue on the big screen. The film so inventive and so influential that is as deserving as any other film as far as re-releasing is concerned. It is certainly more deserving of distribution than 'Whatever Works'. In 2012 it will be 35 years old, which seems like me to as good an excuse as any to put the comedy (which defeated 'Star Wars' to win the Best Picture Oscar in 1977) back in the cinema.

Jurassic Park (1993)

My Splendor Cinema podcast co-presenter Jon insists I am alone in this, but I have a lot of friends who, like me, were at a certain age when 'Jurassic Park' came out and know it line-for-line with a childish enthusiasm that refuses to die. I would pay to go and see my favourite Spielberg movie at the pictures again. I was eight years old last time I saw it on a cinema screen and I'd love to see it again. Furthermore (and unlike the others on this list), it has never had a cinematic re-release. Nostalgia aside, I truly believe 'Jurassic Park' is a landmark film (certainly technically) and at some point in the future it will be re-evaluated as such. And 'Hook' too... to a lesser extent...


  1. I went to India once to help my friend Pimmi film an interview she was doing with the Dalai Lama, and despite how amazing all that was my main recurring memory is us both having a huge sulky row in the back of a ricksaw going through a monsoon Mumbai because she harbored without exception a blanket affection for the 'note-perfect genius' of Spielberg that refused to see fallibility. It was her love of Hook which almost single-handed destroyed our friendship. I thought Jurassic Park was OK, but that nonsense of a Robin Williams man-child fixated star vehicle crapping on J M Barrie from the crow nest of a pirate ship should never ever see cinema light of day again. I'm that passionate in my loathing of it, am fraid.
    Thought your little piece something you wrote whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, which isn't to rubbish the points you've made. Would love to see Sleeping Beauty and Godfather on the big screen.
    Some of my strongest cinema memories are of re-released or rep screenings: Taxi Driver at the Ritzy when I was 17 (1987 when the Ritz was proper run-down dive); Celine & Julia Go Boating and The Last Detail at NFT; La Jetee at ICA; a Preston Sturges triple-bill at the Berkeley Cinema in San Francisco.
    Personally I'd like to see Heimat shown in it's entirety at a little cinema over a period of months (Heimat is three series of 30 episodic films by Edgar Reitz which view life in Germany between 1919 and 2000 through the eyes of a family from the Hunsrück). Also Wings of Desire should be re-released. Disney's Snow White would be amazing too.

  2. I am only joking about 'Hook', but 'Jurassic Park' means a lot to me! I am not massive fan of Spielberg overall, however.

    You're right about the throwaway nature of this list, and perhaps it is a topic which demands more thought and care at a later date.

    Interesting about you and the Dalai Lama... you kept that story quiet!

  3. Cinemas in city centres are increasingly offering luxury seating with services like complimentary refills of soft drinks and popcorn, a bar, reclining leather seats and service bells.