'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Sessions Of Sweet Silent Films

I returned to Cambridge this week, to watch some movies at the 25th Cambridge Film Festival. (In another life, I'd worked at editions 8,9,10 & 11 of this institution in the days when it was based at the legendary Arts Cinema in Market Passage). These days the festival graces the much grander premises of the Arts Picturehouse in Regent Street, where 3 screens make it impossible to see every film programmed over the 10 days of the event. Everything here is on a grander scale: I was lucky enough to be invited up to the projection box by Roger-The-Projectionist, an affable techy who could go on as Gandalf without rehearsal. The box is an absolute Aladdin's Cave of technical wizardry - 3 pairs of 35mm projectors, one set able to handle 70mm, Beta & VHS carts, a huge black-box state-of-the-art digital projector, racks of servers, Dolby systems, quite the biggest trainset a boy could wish to play with. As we stood on the bridge, squinting through the glasses to our left and right, we watched light change to art before our eyes. It was one of those rare moments when the hoariest of cliches - the magic of the cinema - absolutely came to life in all its technological grandeur. Roger pointed out something I'd never considered before - that the system of ratchetting celluloid through a gate 24 times a second by means of a maltese cross engaging with sprockets is a technology essentially unchanged since the Lumiere Brothers invented it in the 1890s, but it still provides us with the sweetest of our shared dreams in the 21st century.


Post a Comment

<< Home