Category Archives: Guest post

Scottish Opera’s Derek Clark on Der Rosenkavalier

Inspired by the recent DVD and Blu-ray release of Paul Czinner’s 1962 adaptation of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, Derek Clark, Head of Music at Scottish Opera, looks at how the filmmakers went about adapting stage performances for the big screen.

This is an absolute treat; a live performance of Strauss’ best-loved opera from the Salzburg Festival conducted by Herbert von Karajan and featuring some of the finest singers of the day, in a production (by Rudolph Hartmann) faithful to the spirit of the piece with sumptuous sets and costumes which match the opulence of the score, played with great elan and polish by an orchestra at the peak of its form.

Sung in the original German, the film is subtitled and the recorded sound is very good, considering the age of the film, with plenty of orchestral detail, though the singers are never overwhelmed.

Sometimes, though, the recording levels seem to have been evened out, resulting in a certain similarity of volume, but this is a small price to pay in view of the quality of the overall performance. In particular it is good to see Elisabeth Schwarzkopf performing the Marschallin, her singing more natural and less mannered than in the famous studio recording she made with Karajan in the late 1950’s.

The Ochs from that recording, Otto Edelmann, also sings here, and his larger than life portrayal of the role is a real tour de force, complete with thick Viennese accent, which only rarely interferes with his singing.

The Octavian is Sena Jurinac, who made the role very much her own in the 1950s and it is good to have her interpretation preserved, even though she looks very feminine throughout. Her vocal partnership with the Sophie of Anneliese Rothenberger, another artist experienced in her role, is one of the musical highlights of the performance.

One of the impressive sets from Der Rosenkavalier

One of the impressive sets from Der Rosenkavalier

With all the subsidiary roles well-sung (particularly the Italian tenor in Act 1) there are no weak links in the casting and the whole performance makes light of the immense difficulty of much of the music. The production is ‘traditional’ in the best sense of that word.

Some of the more intimate scenes seem a little lost on the vast expanses of the Festspielhaus stage, and present-day audiences may find it a little static and superficial. The Marschallin’s lovemaking with Octavian, for example, so graphically depicted in the music, is extremely demure, but this is a matter of changing tastes, and it certainly never gets in the way of the music.

More modern productions tend to get closer to the characters’ emotional cores, but production values nowadays are different. Although the humour of the piece is not neglected (Strauss called it ‘a comedy for music’ after all) there is a marked lack of audience reaction throughout, though they applaud generously enough at the end of each act, and maybe for repeated listening and viewing, it’s not a bad idea that you can concentrate on the music without any distracting laughter.

Perhaps Karajan’s unsmiling demeanour as he enters to conduct each act put a damper on the audience’s natural enthusiasm, but though nowadays we might expect a more unbending and ‘human’, not to say humorous, approach to this opera, there is no denying his mastery and understanding of the score.

The film is above all a testament to him and the standards he was able to achieve, and should be seen by every lover of this fascinating opera.

Der Rosenkavalier is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.co.uk.

Derek Clark was born in Glasgow and studied at the RSAMD and Durham University. He began his career at Welsh National Opera, but since 1997 has been Head of Music at Scottish Opera where he has conducted a wide variety of repertoire from Handel to James MacMillan. He is also active as a coach, accompanist and composer/arranger, and was Assistant Conductor on David McVicar’s production of ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ for Scottish Opera. He is currently conducting Rory Bremner’s new version of ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’.

Leave a comment

Filed under At home, Guest post

Ian Hoey on Taking Off: “A wandering mishmash that is never far from brilliance”

Linnea Heacock in Taking Off

Linnea Heacock in Taking Off

Taking Off is director Milos Forman’s (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) first US feature, a coming-of-age story with a difference. Lynn Carlin and Buck Henry are the parents searching for their runaway teenager who find their own lost youth.

With Taking Off out now on DVD and Blu-ray, Ian Hoey, discovers a film that deserves reassessment 40 years after its release.

A huge amount of life seems to be about auditioning these days, which is one reason why the opening to Taking Off is so interesting, alarming and amusing. It’s 1971 and quite what this wildly varied collection of young women and girls are auditioning for is never explained, even though the action repeatedly cuts back to it.

Keep an eye on the auditionees and you’ll see Carly Simon vocalising as to the merits of smoking marijuana, despite the fact that “the long term physical effects are not yet known”. She’s certainly not too worried as “the short term physical effects are so groovy”. She’s clearly not alone in her appreciation of getting high, as the collected female talent ranges from the innocent and naive to the stoned and hysterical.

The standout musical performance, despite an incidental appearance from Ike and Tina Turner blasting out ‘Goodbye, So Long’ complete with the sort of dancing that makes you glad to be alive, has to be from a young Kathy Bates.

Taking Off is out now on DVD and Blu-ray

Taking Off is out now on DVD and Blu-ray

Making her debut film appearance, she performs her own composition, ‘And Even The Horses Had Wings’, under the remarkable name of Bobo Bates. It’s a show stopping turn that has everyone in the room staring in silence at her, though they may all be trying to figure out what the Bobo was all about.

Trying to figure things out is the key theme to the picture as the narrative really kicks off when a middle-aged couple discover their teenage daughter has disappeared. She’s ostensibly gone to the audition but the parents are unaware of this.

The Tynes are the couple in question and, like so many people in movies of that era, they have a magnificent inability to understand the younger generation. This incomprehension is shared by almost everyone aged beyond their early twenties that we come across.

At the root, so the olds think, of this chasm between the young blood and the established society is the smoking of weed and there is much hilarity to be found in the ordered fashion with which the members of the SPLC (Society for the Parents of Lost Children) attempt to understand this alien substance and the faux educational way that they indulge in it.

Of course, the vices of the parents are ever-present with booze, lust and nicotine but they delude themselves that what their kids are looking for is so far removed from their own understanding that they best seek enlightenment from similarly afflicted parents or a dork with a drug habit.

The whole thing is a wandering mishmash that is never far from brilliance. The parents are idiots but likeable idiots and none of the people they cross paths with during the hunt are particularly nasty either, whether they be fellow parents, thieving hippies or lusty frauds. It’s a film with a gloriously simple premise rolled in the same skin as a social commentary and gleefully highlights the funny side of it all.

Taking Off could refer to the runaway, the drug hits or even the drunken strip poker that occurs near the end.

The unfortunate fact is that it couldn’t refer to the success of its initial release. It’s a mystery how a film as good as this could have been all but forgotten by the majority of movie fans but there’s no reason why it can’t still attain the popular cult status it deserves.

Taking Off is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon and all good retailers.

Ian Hoey was General Manager of the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh, Scotland, for over five years. Born in Poughkeepsie, USA and raised in Greenock, he has lived in Edinburgh since the late eighties. Among his all-time favourite viewing pleasures are the film Theatre of Blood and the original episodes of The Twilight Zone.

Leave a comment

Filed under At home, Guest post

Guest post: Eddie Harrison on memories and dreams in Local Hero

Burt Lancaster as Happer in Local Hero

Burt Lancaster as Happer in Local Hero

Now in its fifth year, the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (SMHAFF) has grown to become one of the world’s largest arts and health events.

Eddie Harrison, director of the SMHAFF’s film festival strand, explains why he decided to add one of Bill Forsyth’s best-loved films, Local Hero (distributed by Park Circus in the UK and Ireland), to the schedule.

I was working in Queens, New York, when the idea of programming Local Hero came up.

For weeks, I’d been in correspondence with Peter Byrne, an expert on mental health and cinema, about the 2011 film programme for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. Perhaps it was being so far from home, or a memory of seeing Bill Forsyth’s 1983 film as an un-impressionable teenager, but his suggestion of screening Local Hero in the context of a mental health festival made me feel positively misty eyed.

2011’s programme aimed to demonstrate how cinema can deal directly with specific mental health conditions. Sarah Polley’s Away From Her deals with Alzheimers, Ken Loach’s Looking For Eric with depression, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker with post-traumatic stress disorder.

But selecting Local Hero had less to do with addressing a specific mental condition than the festival annual themes, this year, memories and dreams.

My first memory of Local Hero is the film’s opening in Houston, with an early sight-gag featuring Telex-era office-workers communicating with each other by phone, only to discover they’re in the same room.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Back in Cinemas, Guest post

Guest Post: Jack Bell on La Piscine

La Piscine re-release poster

La Piscine re-release poster

Film blogger Jack Bell looks back at 1969’s La Piscine and discovers a film that has much going on beneath the surface.

La Piscine marries the American consumerist aesthetic style with the chic glamour of the French Riviera in the 1960s. Add this to a cast comprising of four of the most photogenic actors to appear on screen and you have a recipe for a classic.

That is what director Jacques Deray achieved with his 1969 work and what audiences in the UK will now be able to enjoy on its theatrical re-release from 30th September.

We are able to listen to smooth jazz played on vinyl, hear the roar of an American muscle car’s engine, admire some fine examples of elegant 60s fashion and, of course, bask in the most luxurious item of them all, a swimming pool.

Often, French cinema carries a misconstrued perception of being pretentious, too philosophical in its screenplays and difficult for audiences to relate to. Here, La Piscine presents a quartet of bourgeois characters who audiences may not well relate to but will be drawn to due to an ever-present attribute of French films; a suspenseful plot.

As in two recently re-released classic French films, Truffaut’s La Peau Douce and Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques, La Piscine represents a complex psychoanalytical character study that draws in the spectator to create a gripping storyline. It is the subtle intensity of the cast’s overall performance coupled with the typical slick aesthetic style so recurrent in great works of French cinema that will make this film attractive for modern audiences.

The lead couple of Jean-Paul and Marianne, played excellently by Alain Delon and the stunning Romy Schneider, rent out a picture perfect villa on the outskirts of St. Tropez for the summer. However, relaxation soon turns to tension when their fellow friend Harry arrives with his beautiful young daughter Penelope.

Romy Schneider and Alain Delon in La Piscine

Romy Schneider and Alain Delon in La Piscine

Unsure of the characters’ pasts with each other, Deray masterfully teases and tantalises the audience in his portrayal of these characters as they become paranoid in each others company in the villa’s ironically conveyed claustrophobic surroundings (several scenes depict characters as if trapped in a cage).

Each character brings an elegance and sexiness to the screen that makes much of the film sensual, enforced through Deray’s voyeuristic style of filmmaking. As shots track slowly over the half naked bodies of the beautiful cast ensemble the audience is treated to a feast for the eyes, not only physically but naturally as well when considering the film’s location. La Piscine is the perfect film for escapism on a wet October night.

Deray adopts a new form of star-gazing as the camera subtly follows the ménage-à-quatre relationship around the swimming pool. The characters weave in and out of shot, often leaving the audience and the characters themselves unaware and unsure of whom is watching who, with the dialogue shared between them acting as a front for the emotional complexities evoked in their dark expressions.

There is a lot left unsaid in these dialogue exchanges that entice the viewer into trying to work out the true personas of these troubled bo-bos (French colloquialism for bohemian-bourgeois). Can we trust them, can they trust each other, are they amiable to us? The relative calmness of the surroundings (barring one party sequence) is beautified by the swimming pool yet there are surprises and disruption in store as the plot develops and emotions gradually come to the fore.

Cinéphiles may label La Piscine as a low-brow French film when put in the same bracket as the films of Truffaut or Renoir yet this is a film that shocks, suspends and attracts. The psychological edge to this film on top of its unashamed and fantastic showcase of style and glamour make this a must see in cinemas next month.

La Piscine is out in cinemas in the UK from 30th September and will be showing at BFI Southbank and the Filmhouse in Edinburgh. Visit www.backincinemas.com for dates and venue information over the next four weeks.

Visit Jack Bell’s blog, The Last Picture Show.

1 Comment

Filed under At home, Back in Cinemas, Guest post

Guest post: Andrew Martin on The Brothers in film and in print

With 1947’s The Brothers out now on Park Circus DVD, Andrew Martin, Curator of Modern Scottish Collections at the National Library of Scotland, offers a glimpse of how the film was promoted over 60 years ago using archival material from the Library’s vaults.

The Brothers

Cover to The Brothers pressbook

Within the 14 million printed items in the National Library of Scotland we have a small but evocative collection of material relating to some of the classic Scottish films. I’ve been looking at the material we have for The Brothers, and these provide an insight into how this major screen event – and one of my favourite films – was marketed in 1947.

The Brothers and its Scottish director David MacDonald have been a little neglected in the annals of Scottish cinema. The film appeared on screens between the release of two favourites – I Know Where I Am Going and Whisky Galore. With great charm both portray a Hebridean world of actual locations, ceilidhs, and canny locals. The Brothers has some of these ingredients too: striking Skye scenery, old traditions and a wealth of character actors in distinctive roles – but it is also a dark and powerful drama.

Patricia Roc and Maxwell Reed (Image courtesy The National Library of Scotland)

Patricia Roc and Maxwell Reed (Image courtesy The National Library of Scotland)

When Patricia Roc steps off the steamer to be a servant girl for Finlay Currie and his two adult sons, she finds that the locals are rather too friendly. Her beauty soon begins to take its toll on the island community, provoking an outbreak of feuding between two families, and what ensues is extraordinary.

In 1947 Roc was well-known as a wholesome leading lady who had often played second-fiddle to Margaret Lockwood in Gainsborough Studio melodramas such as Love Story and The Wicked Lady. The Brothers gave her the chance to take centre stage. Maxwell Reed and Duncan MacRae are the unlikely brothers – Reed smoulders in sub-Stewart Granger style as befits the future first husband of Rank starlet Joan Collins and MacRae reminds us that he played sinister and funny with equal skill.

The Brothers remains a striking film, an intense melodrama played out with gusto against the very real back-drop of Skye.

Patricia Roc and Will Fyffe in The Brothers (Image courtesy The National Library of Scotland)

Patricia Roc and Will Fyffe in The Brothers (Image courtesy The National Library of Scotland)

The National Library of Scotland collections include an original poster, pressbook, and set of photographic stills, as well as the 1947 film edition of L.A.G. Strong’s novel.

The Film of the Book paperback comes complete with stills, biographies, and a colour cover of a beaming leading lady sitting amongst the studio heather. Facts about the Film inform us that the weather was not ideal during the seven weeks of location work in Skye, but that the crew, many of which were recently de-mobbed were up to the challenge, and that the RAF helped out with weather forecasting.

Image courtesy The National Library of Scotland

Image courtesy The National Library of Scotland

We also learn that 200 people turned up as extras, half of which were on holiday, and that many of the locals had never visited a cinema. On her departure Patricia Roc was, we hear, presented with a shawl and box of kippers.

Pressbooks were distributed to film exhibitors by the companies who made the films. They offered posters to buy, stills and trailers to hire, and helpful suggestions how cinema managers might market the film locally, with ready-made articles and snippets of information.

The pressbook for The Brothers includes cast photographs, biographies, features on the ancient traditions revived for the film, the work of the dialect coach, and an “outdoor girl” healthy diet and beauty regime for the “Women’s Page”.

Excerpt from The Brothers pressbook

Excerpt from The Brothers pressbook

The local librarian, we are told, might be persuaded to feature the Book of the Film in the Library window. There is also a reminder of the Scottish credentials of the crew and cast, whether it be Dumfries (John Laurie) Dumbartonshire (David MacDonald, the director) or St.Andrews (Cedric Thorpe Davie, the composer) – “be sure and plug your particular connection in your local newspapers.”

Excerpt from The Brothers pressbook

Excerpt from The Brothers pressbook

Our set of eight photographic stills (four of which are reproduced here) was designed to be displayed in the standard-sized frames which decorated the foyers of cinemas throughout the country. In 1947 the stills were hired out for seven shillings the set – but there was a 50% reduction if returned in good condition. One of the curiosities of the photographs is that the name of Megs Jenkins, who has a minor role, appears in rather larger type than that of the stars. Perhaps Patricia Roc’s agent was on vacation.

Image courtesy The National Library of Scotland

Image courtesy The National Library of Scotland

It is great to welcome back a rare and peculiar treat on DVD in the shape of The Brothers, Scotland’s full-blooded excursion into the world of costume melodrama.

Andrew Martin is Curator of Modern Scottish Collections at the National Library of Scotland and the author of ‘Going to the Pictures: Scottish memories of cinema’.

Find out more about The Brothers on DVD or view our full collection of DVDs and Blu-rays.

Leave a comment

Filed under At home, Guest post

Guest post: Mark Hodgson on Woody Allen’s early comedies

To celebrate the reent Cannes premiere of Woody Allen’s latest film, Midnight in Paris, Mark Hodgson takes a look at Woody’s films in the Park Circus catalogue and remembers six of his films from the 1970s which still make him laugh.

Woody Allen in Bananas

Woody Allen in Bananas

Nowadays, must-see comedies mixing up sex, politics and slapstick no longer make you think of the films of Woody Allen, but in the seventies, he wrote, directed and starred in a string of accessible and popular laugh-out-loud movies. Their success made it very hard for Allen to break away from these ‘earlier funny ones’ and be regarded as a serious film-maker.

After starting out in a team of comedy writers working for hit American TV shows in the 1950s, Allen made a name for himself as a stand-up comedian using his own material. His big break into movies was with the script for What’s New Pussycat (1965), in which he also had a scene-stealing supporting role. He plays a backstage dresser at a Paris stripclub, working for twenty francs a week (“It’s all I could afford”).

Riding the new wave of sexual liberation, this is a French farce with nothing ruder than naughty. With a cast of sex-obsessed characters, none more screwed up than the psychiatrist trying to analyse them all (a superb character from Peter Sellers in a hilarious wig). It stars Peter O’Toole as a gallivanting bachelor who can’t settle down to his impending marriage. It’s an inventive and furious take on casual sex and diversity without being the slightest bit explicit.

Woody Allen BlogathonThis led to a high-profile role in Casino Royale (1966), a wacky farce whose budget ballooned to epic proportions. Building on the success of What’s New Pussycat, Allen, Sellers and Ursula Andress were cast in this lampoon of the already hugely successful James Bond franchise. Allen appears in a key role as Bond’s son, Jimmy, first seen escaping a firing squad by means of an exploding cigarette – he climbs over the wall only to land in front of another firing squad on the other side. The spoof cemented his screen character as the unlucky, lecherous klutz he’d play throughout the 1970s.

He may be a loser on-screen, but Allen was already directing his own scripts at this point. Bananas (1971) satirised young America’s romantic view of South American revolutionaries. As usual his character (a disastrous product-tester) is trying to get the girl (comedian Louise Lasser). He agrees to leave the US with her on a trip to help rebels fight a dictatorship. Of course, he winds up going alone and in the thick of a plot to overthrow the country.

The story is bookended by a couple of surreal exaggerations of the American media, starting with live TV coverage of a political assassination, commentated as if it were a sports programme. Very like one of his topical stand-up routines brought to life.

Throughout the decade, he freely uses physical, often silent comedy. A running gag in these films has Allen in a training montage where he’s unable to even fire a gun without screwing up.

His finger was again on the pulse the following year with Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972), inspired by a best-selling self-help book. Unusually it has an anthology structure, each extended sketch based on a different chapter. Gene Wilder and Burt Reynolds guest in two different segments.

While the ‘psychiatrist falling in love with a sheep’ is memorable, Allen appears in the funniest chapters. Firstly he’s a court jester trying to sleep with the King’s daughter (Lynn Redgrave), then a hot-blooded Italian who likes making love in public places. Next he’s the leading man in a bad horror movie taking on a kinky mad scientist (John Carradine), before he appears, most famously, as a nervous sperm, when we see all the effort and organisation that goes on inside a man’s body during a date…

Sleeper (1973) is Allen’s rare excursion into sci-fi. A riff on Buck Rogers, his hapless health food store-owner finds himself flung into the distant future on the wrong side of the law. A satire on 1970s’ America rather than a serious prediction at what the future holds, it’s a refreshing change from spoofs of other sci-fi movies. It works as a sci-fi story that happens to be comedy.

Allen’s character has a long and difficult resurrection with his body waking up before his brain kicks in. Other highlights for me involved his disguise as a mute robot servant, and a battle with an instant pudding.

This is his first of many collaborations with Diane Keaton, here playing a vapid poet who no longer has to work in this mechanised future, ignorant of the totalitarian technological society that keeps everyone in the dark. There are even machines that have sex for you – the movie debut of the orgasmatron.

For me, this was his funniest comedy of the decade, repeatedly re-released in UK cinemas on double-bills with Peter Sellers’ films and even Monty Python.

With Love and Death (1975), he moved away from the news headlines and towards his personal influences in literature and world cinema. It’s another broad Woody Allen comedy, but also a spoof of Tolstoy’s War And Peace. The in-jokes don’t involve American politicians but rather the pioneering Russian director Eisenstein. There are even visual quotes from Ingmar Bergman, though this now looks like he’s referencing an ABBA pop video.

Allen plays a neurotic Russian villager forced (by his family) to fight in the war against the French invaders. While he’s expected to be cannon fodder, he miraculously and repeatedly cheats death, turns the course of the war, when all he really wants is to marry his cousin Sonja (again, the effortlessly funny Diane Keaton). His monologues straight to camera echo his days as a stand-up, but the subject is philosophy, of the meaning of love and death. But funny.

Woodly Allen’s comedies of this period provide a satirical commentary of the times, but also achieves sex comedy without nudity, adult entertainment without swearing, and even subversive fun for teenagers without a cast full of teenagers.

Mark Hodgson runs cult movie blog, Black Hole Reviews, recommending horror films and offbeat cinema from different decades and different countries.

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest post

Guest post: Paul Lynch and Grover Crisp on Taxi Driver

35th anniversary Taxi Driver poster

35th anniversary Taxi Driver poster

Emerging from the seamier side of 1970s Manhattan in a stunning new digital version, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver remains one of the most important films to come from the decade that redefined American cinema.

Ahead of Taxi Driver’s release in the UK and Ireland on 13 May, and Australia soon after, The Sunday Times’ Paul Lynch spoke to Grover Crisp, Senior Vice President, Asset Management, Film Restoration & Digital Mastering at Sony Pictures Entertainment regarding the process undertaken to return films to their former glory.

This interview appears with permission of The Sunday Times.

Paul Lynch: Film restoration has been around a long time. So what’s new about digital restoration and 4K in particular?

Grover Crisp: Scanning the film at a 4K resolution allows us to work on the film digitally at basically the resolution of the original film itself. In a traditional photo-chemical workflow, we would be making duplicates from the negatives and there is always a generational loss of resolution in the image. Also, digital allows us to repair things – like torn film frames and scratches – that we could not repair photo-chemically.

How painstaking is the process? Is it costly? How long does it take?

Well, it can be painstaking if the material is in such bad shape! Basically, though, the length of time and difficulty in any project like this depends on the condition of the source material you have to work with. We spent most of 2010 working on Taxi Driver.

What kind of problems did you have with Taxi Driver?

The film elements had some of the usual issues that you would expect from a film of this age.   There were scratches, torn frames, a lot of dirt that was embedded in the emulsion of the negative. There was slight color fading, but not so much that it could not be compensated for in the digital workflow.

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) prepares for a personal war

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) prepares for a personal war

Is it easier to restore films today than before?

There are more options and more digital tools today that allow you to correct problems that you could not in the past with just a purely photo-chemical process. So, in that regard, it is definitely easier.

There seems to have been an explosion of digitally restored films. Is this a phenomenon we can expect to increase?

I think you will see it increase. The higher platforms for display and the demands of Blu-ray, for example, require us to go back to work on original materials to provide the best possible image. The digital workflows we have now, especially in 4K, bring film restoration right into the process from inspection of the film all the way through to providing the Blu-ray master for encoding, or recording the film out to a new restored negative. There also seems to be a great deal of interest in showing these films theatrically, too, and especially in a digital cinema format.

How large is the Sony back-catalogue and is there an intention to restore as many films as possible or just tent-pole classics?

There are thousands of titles in the Sony Pictures library. While not all of them actually require restoration, we do have an overall preservation program for all titles and that sometimes leads to a restoration project. The tent-pole classics are certainly in demand, but there are quite a few titles in the library that are what I would call genre classics that people are eager to see restored, too.

Are there lost films that can never be recovered?

Every studio that started in the silent period has films that are no longer around. That is not a unique situation worldwide, for that matter. Everyone in this business, though, is constantly on the lookout for titles that can be recovered. The recent find of films in New Zealand that are being repatriated to the US is a good example. There are a number of films in that collection that didn’t exist anywhere else.

How do you decide when a film needs to be restored?

Once you have gone through and evaluated all the film that you can find for a title, a game plan can be developed. That might entail simple preservation or a much bigger restoration project.  It is difficult to prioritize in any one category, but we do consider those titles that are most in need first. Theatrical release, Blu-ray and DVD, television broadcast all come into play, though, when lining up projects.

Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle

What kind of market is there for newly restored films?

Blu-ray, streaming, digital delivery and the theatrical exhibition of restored films all contribute to driving the work. We find there is a great deal of interest in seeing films on the big screen as well as the one in your living room.

Are you finding new audiences for older classic films? Are older audiences coming back to see these films?

As I look around at audiences when we screen a classic film that we have restored, it seems that there is a good cross-section of film fans.

Is the cinema screening of these films an important strategy or do you see Blu-ray as more important?

Blu-ray is a great format in which to experience a  film, I think. It is the closest so far to the theatrical experience that you can have at home. We find, however, that for every title we work on there is considerable interest from theaters, film festivals, film archival programs, and we are constantly shipping prints or digital cinema versions all over the world.

What classic films are currently being restored by Sony Pictures?

We are working on The Guns of Navarone and The Caine Mutiny right now for Blu-ray releases later this year. We just finished preparing Das Boot, as well.

And finally, what classic films can we expect to see over the next year or two?

We hope that people will be interested in all the projects we are working on, from musicals like Bye Bye Birdie and the long musical version of Lost Horizon, to the films of Jean Arthur and more Film Noir coming out on DVD this year.

Thanks to Paul Lynch, Grover Crisp and The Sunday Times

Taxi Driver will be back in cinemas worldwide, including UK and Ireland from 13 May, and Australia from 7 July. Audiences in Brasil will also get the chance to watch the restored cult classic this year, when it screens at Sao Paulo International Film Festival in October.

To stay updated on international release dates and screenings for this title, please visit www.backincinemas.com.

We’d also welcome any of your memories on Taxi Driver on our Facebook page.

Leave a comment

Filed under At home, Back in Cinemas, Guest post, Now Showing