Saw the original STAR WARS projected in 70mm mag last night. Wow, it really rocked!

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Steve Hoffman, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    I saw STAR WARS back when it first came out in May of '77 at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood on the SECOND day after premiere. Waited three hours and had no idea what to expect but we were blown away. I learned after that only a few selected cities (like Los Angeles) got the 70mm six-channel magnetic stripe version and that most cities got the 35mm optical stereo soundtrack.

    At any rate, we went back to the Chinese about 5 more times in 1977 (last time at Christmas) to see the movie and then (for old times sake) I saw it in 1997 at the Chinese for the anniversary reissue. Well, that was a disappointment. Soft picture, extra junk added to the effects, the soundtrack squashed and pulverized just like all the movies of the 1990s. A waste of time.

    Last night a famous collector pulled out his 1977 70mm mag print of STAR WARS and projected it for a few selected guests. I mean, a guy rich enough to be able to project 70 in his screening room? C'mon, how eccentric is that?

    At any rate, even though the print had "turned" a bit, the picture AND SOUND were just like I remembered from 1977; sharp, clean and the sound was dynamic as all heck. Watching it like this, the movie held up remarkably well. In fact, we were on the edge of our seats for the "swiped from '30 Seconds Over Tokyo" style battle at the end. It was great.

    Why can't they take this print, transfer it to high rez and just release it on a DVD? It looks (and sounds) so much better than any other laserdisc or DVD I've ever seen of STAR WARS. There had to have been at least 70 db of dynamic range on the mag soundtrack of this thing. Compare that to the 10 db of dynamics of the reissue sound mix. Urggh. And what happened to the picture quality of the reissue? You'd think the orignal camera neg had been destroyed and the soft, flabby, diffused image that they came up with in the reissue was the best they could do. I know that's not true so what was the reasoning? If you could have seen what I saw last night, crystal clear picture, sharp focus and everything. NOTHING like what you see when you watch the movie now. Somewhere down the line someone made a decision to degrade the picture, why I don't know. Did they bounce the entire movie to digital and back to film again? For what reason? Oh well. End of rant.

  2. gener8tr

    gener8tr Senior Member

    Vancouver, WA USA
    You should know better than anyone, Steve, "most" people think newer means better.

    Lemmings, I say!
  3. fyrfytrhoges

    fyrfytrhoges New Member

    im jealous

    there are not many movies that i can think of that i would pay lots of money to see in this format, actually i cant think of one right now.

    you are very lucky to have seen the movie this way.

    in 77' i was 6 years old and i have been a star wars nut since the day i saw it...
  4. nosticker

    nosticker Forum Guy

    Ringwood, NJ
    I've seen a few "updated" and "restored" films over the years and come to the conclusion that they all universally(no pun intended) stink. I saw the new DePalma/Pacino "Scarface" a few years ago, and I hated that all the foley, looping, and SFX were all retracked and different. I felt like I was watching one of those prints they show to focus groups.

    Saw the 70mm Star Wars, saw the 90's reissue at the Ziegfeld in NYC, always had some kind of copy of it. It's darn near a sacred film to me. What had been done to it since its original release(and what I'm sure will be done to it) is disappointing.

  5. I Am The Lolrus

    I Am The Lolrus New Member

    LA, CA, US
    Steve, Who knows why they don't transfer it... maybe the guys who have the authority just don't know. Why not try to coordinate something?

    Or, maybe your eccentric friend would be willing to invest in scanning equipment and preserve this for future generations... because as we know, Lucas destroyed the original negatives during the 90s restoration debacle so there is no original version.
  6. Spirit Crusher

    Spirit Crusher Forum Resident

    Mad Town, WI
    From what Lucasfilm has said, it would take too much to restore the original cinema cuts these days - the theory is that the original negatives were "cut up" for the 1997 Special Editions. They even used each separate optical effects to restore it (for example, the asteroid battle in Empire - each asteroid was a separate optical effect shot). Perhaps the only truly original cinema prints of Star Wars are now in the hands of private collectors like this. Who knows? Lucasfilm is vague on the subject. Do you we know with certainty that the original negatives are "destroyed"?

    Also, I've read that even after premiere in 1977, Lucas had small things changed. So the question is, is there an intact negative of the 1977 premiere of Star Wars?
  7. rburly

    rburly Sitting comfortably with Item 9

    Put "Remastered" in front of it and it's better, everyone knows that! ;)

    Seriously, Steve, I have no idea why someone wouldn't want to put the best possible product in high rez and sell it. Now that BD is the winner, maybe they will. (I wouldn't hold my breath though)
  8. Aquateen

    Aquateen Forum Resident

    Austin, TX
    Steve, can I hang out with your friends? :)
  9. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    I've never even seen the movie but for about two minutes of it.
  10. gener8tr

    gener8tr Senior Member

    Vancouver, WA USA
    Time to come up from the bomb shelter, Grant, the war is over :)
  11. pdenny

    pdenny 22-Year SHTV Participation Trophy Recipient

    Hawthorne CA
    And we were just starting to like you :laugh: :laugh:
  12. wes

    wes Senior Member

    Sad..... These are the kinds of things that drive me bonkers.....

    Anyway,wish I could have been there.... That guy with the film collection sounds like what I'd be if I were wealthy.... First class movie house and a nice hi fi setup..... What more do ya need for entertainment?.......
  13. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    I'm jealous! Too bad the owner of the print couldn't have it restored and made available for public domain usage or similar.

    I have seen the "restored" 2004 version in real HDTV, and it looks pretty sharp. The DVDs don't compare, and I'm sure the 70mm print you saw was even better.
  14. bhazen

    bhazen an okay Boomer

    Deepest suburbia
    Steve, I'm with you completely on this one - I saw a 70 mm screening of Star Wars a few years back at the Cinerama (which Paul Allen owns, IIRC) in Seattle, and was stunned; I remembered why I'd been such a big fan of the original series to begin with.

    BTW I also saw the restored 2001 and Lawrence Of Arabia there in recent years - also amazing experiences. For you Puget Sounders (or visitors) on this forum, don't miss a 70 mm screening of your faves there if one comes around.
  15. WestGrooving

    WestGrooving Forum Resident

    California, U.S.A
  16. Downsampled

    Downsampled Senior Member

    Jealous is an understatement. Good god, Steve, you are lucky.

    I have always assumed that Lucas had at least one fairly nice 70mm print in a vault somewhere. I wouldn't be surprised if one has been digitized "flat" already (by Lucas) and stored away somewhere.

    I don't mind Lucas having his preference for the re-edited version and all the remastering -- but I wish he would recognize the valid, historical, cultural relevance of that original version. Arguments about its flaws are really irrelevant; it's a work of art that needs to be preserved and made available, warts and all.

    I feel lucky to have gotten the "original version" on DVD, but find it impossible to believe the argument that an old NTSC master is the best they can do.
  17. Spirit Crusher

    Spirit Crusher Forum Resident

    Mad Town, WI
    Oh, and I would bet that when the films were "restored" in 1997, they bounced it to digital and then struck film prints, so the restoration work was done in the digital realm?
    Roger Ebert said Clones, shot in High Def, looked fantastic in a digital projection.

    I saw Blade Runner Final Cut and it did look soft and grainy. I would imagine that all restoration was done in the digital realm (they said they scanned at a very high rate, not possible until recently) then what, a new film negative made? How are film prints made from a digital source?
    I wonder how the BR Final Cut looks in a digital projection.

    I think the case of George Lucas gives weight to the idea that sometimes it's smart to leave film archives in the hands of the "suits".
  18. johnny33

    johnny33 New Member

    :cool: Steve.

    I guess its the same story as to why they cant just leave things that sound great alone and master with a light touch? If they did that too many pinheads would be unemployed I suppose.

    I dont think its a matter of making things better or thinking that they are many times. Its cash money that motivates the technology and ultimately leaves things " revised" yet not improved at all really.Hey if it all stopped and everyone realized that it was a fine print in the first place how would they convince us to buy a remaster? :sigh:
  19. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member

    I've only ever seen SW/ESP/ROTJ theatricly in their Special Edition forms. That was a lot of fun in 1997.
  20. Alan T

    Alan T Senior Member

    Is this the mag print that Jeff got from South Africa ?
  21. www.records

    www.records Active Member

    I remember in 77 I stood outside in Phoenix in a sandstorm for several hours to see Star Wars. I remember people saying Phoenix was one of the few cities that had it that early. I left Phoenix shortly after that and moved back to Missouri and was telling all of my friends that they had to see this movie when it came out. It blew me away.

    Steve, that is awesome that you got to see it again in it's original glory. Lucky you!!
  22. tommy-thewho

    tommy-thewho Senior Member

    detroit, mi
    Congrat's Steve. When I first saw it the theater didn't even have dolby surround sound or anything cool. Just regular sound and 35 mm.... Still loved it.....
  23. ACK!

    ACK! Senior Member

    New Hampshire
    I can only imagine what further "tweaking" Lucas will do when the Star Wars movies get released on Blu-Ray.:sigh:

    Steve, I agree with you - go back to the original and strike some Blu-Ray and regular DVDs from a good source print. I'm sure they could take that 70mm print you saw and make it look great.
  24. BZync

    BZync Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    How cool.

    I saw a 70mm print during it's initial run at the Loew's Astor Plaza Theater in NYC. Amazing. Went back about a half dozen times.

    I'd bring my kids to see that kind of presentation in a heartbeat.
  25. hushypushy

    hushypushy Active Member

    San Jose, CA
    Since I was a kid, I've always wondered why the sound of all the Star Wars films has been so flat. I want to see the 70mm :cry:

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