BERLIN — Celebrating the powerful visuals of wide-gauge film, next year’s Berlin Intl. Film Festival’s Retrospective sidebar will screen nearly two dozen works shot in 70 mm film, including rarely seen classics from the Soviet Union and East Germany as well as Hollywood epics such as David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia,” William Wyler’s “Ben-Hur” and Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “Cleopatra.”
The Retrospective will present a total of 22 titles from the U.S., the U.S.S.R. and Europe, including such Soviet productions as Igor Talankin’s 1966 film “Dnevnye zvozdy” (The Stars of the Day), based on motifs from Olga Bergholz’s autobiographical book of the same name; the first Sovscope-70 film, Julija Solnceva’s 1961 film “Povest’ plamennykh let” (The Story of the Flaming Years); Sergei Bondarchuk’s multi-part screen adaptation of Tolstoy’s “Voina i mir” (War and Peace), and Samson Samsonov’s “Optimisticheskaya tragediya” (The Optimistic Tragedy).
The Retrospective is also screening what organizers say is likely the “most remarkable” of the 10 70 mm cinematic works produced by East Germany’s DEFA studios: Konrad Wolf’s 1971 historical biopic “Goya.”
Other screeners include well-known classics such as Franklin J. Schaffner’s “Patton,” Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ “West Side Story,” as well as Wise’s “The Sound of Music” and Gene Kelly’s “Hello, Dolly!”
Twice as wide as standard 35 mm film, 70 mm became the preferred format for monumental works and big-screen epics. From adventure and science fiction pics to Westerns and musicals, the high resolution, sharp picture and color quality of the film captured magnificent panoramas of nature and intimately beautiful close-ups.
“It will be a feast for the eyes. 70 mm films are not just known for their rich colors and splendid visuals, but also for the incomparable sound experience that gives viewers a sense of being there live,” said Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick.
Retrospective director Rainer Rother said the sidebar was also an homage to large film palaces, though only a few have survived. The Berlinale will be using Berlin’s Kino International as a venue for the Retrospective. “It opened in 1963 and was the third 70 mm cinema in the GDR,” said Rother. “We are also pleased with the new prints that are now — thanks to their restoration by several large studios — available in their original format.”