Print nostalgia

This post is not so much about something new we've shot, as it is about the notion of something I'm exploring in the documentary. And that is the affinity and print romance that can be conjured and felt by a projectionist when running a film.

I recently had the good fortune to be the first projectionist to handle and run a brand new 70mm print of Lawrence of Arabia. I can't really describe how this felt, although other projectionists will understand. This film is arguably one of, if not THE greatest epic of the wide screen era and so to launch it on it's maiden run felt like a great honour.

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But more than that, it gave me a sense of continuity and connection to the production itself and the notion I have played a small part in the life of such an important film. It's not the first time I've had this feeling when handling a classic print. I felt the same respect and wonder when I ran, The Wizard of Oz and Showboat and I really felt it when running the Star Wars prequels. All of which gave me a strong sense of connection to the people and times that had given birth to something special. 

If you were to ask any projectionist where they were when they ran a classic film, they'd be able to tell you the cinema they were working at, how long the season was and probably the print number and any of  it's battle scars. It's akin to the phrase, 'where were you when?'

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Projectionists are the last link in the long journey of a films life. The gate keepers, if you will of the collective film experience. 

The connection is strong, melancholic and most of all; cherished.


Bert Murphy