“THIS MOVIE SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD”
That’s what Martin Scorsese put at the beginning of The Last Waltz, his amazing concert film about the final performance of The Band. This is not what Terence Malick has suggested to theatrical projectionists, though.
Malick has sent a letter to every projectionist who will be unspooling The Tree of Life, and the San Diego Reader has seen it. They sum it up thus:
Malick begins by cushioning his “fraternal salute” by pointing out the obvious: “Proper theatre projection is fast becoming a forgotten art.” He asks projectionists to take into consideration the following points:
Project the film in it’s proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
The correct fader setting on Dolby and DTS systems is 7. Malick asks that faders be kept at 7.5 or even 7.7, system permitting.
The film has no opening credits, and the booth operator is asked to make sure the “lights down cue is well before the opening frame of reel 1.”
With all the recent talk of “darkier, lousier” images, operators are asked that lamps are at “proper standard (5400 Kelvin)” and that the “foot Lambert level is at Standard 14.”
I guess people with lousy spelling and grammar who are also arthouse fans will be relieved that Malick has apostrophe problems. Also, ‘darkier?’ Sounds racist.
It feels like there’s a groundswell for better projection lately, with people really getting sick of overpaying for poor presentation. If you missed it this weekend our own Tim League, head honcho of the Alamo Drafthouse, weighed in on projection issues like the ones that concern Malick. Read it here.