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Christopher Nolan on bringing the restored 2001: A Space Odyssey to Cannes

It's been a number of years since I last watched Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, but those attending the Cannes Film Festival will get the chance to view the film is all of its restored, or rather, unrestored, glory. In order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, Christoper Nolan will be bringing a 70mm print of the film to Cannes, and it's his goal to recreate the same experience which audiences had back when the film was first released in 1968.

When Christopher Nolan was in the midst of remastering the films in his own library last fall, he happened to be working in the same lab that was working on a 4K restoration of 2001. While speaking with The New York Times, Nolan said that Ned Price, the vice-president of restoration at Warner Bros. offered him the chance to see copies of the original prints of 2001, "the film industry equivalent of offering a historian access to an ancient manuscript." The copies were still in decent enough shape that Christopher Nolan approached Warner Bros. about using these copies to recreate the original theatrical release, and the studio jumped at the chance.

Mr. Price and Mr. Nolan began by making duplicate negatives and then initiated a complex method of color correction. This process required some imagining of what Kubrick would want, with prompting from the faded source material. “If the filmmaker intended the walls to be sort of green and you try to make them white, then other things will be problematic,” Mr. Price said. “The flesh tones will go off. The whites will turn magenta. Strange things will happen. To a certain degree, you have to listen to the camera negative itself.” There was a singular aim to view the film in its first cinematic form. Instead of fixing several tears in the original negative, the team thought it would be more authentic to retain them. The original 35-millimeter six-channel soundtrack had decayed beyond repair, so Mr. Nolan sourced audio from a 35-millimeter preservation element made in the 1980s — a format rarely, if ever, used anymore.

Katharina Kubrick, Stanley Kubrick's daughter, will be appearing with Christopher Nolan when he presents the film at Cannes, and she's thrilled that Nolan has been putting so much care into the film. "I think it’s awesome actually." Ms. Kubrick said. "This is a movie that’s a half-century old and the fact that people are still fascinated, arguing about it and debating it and that it influenced many directors and filmmakers is nothing short of incredible." After 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY has its premiere at Cannes, it will open in select theaters on May 18th, and this fall, a 4K version of the film will also be released.

Source: New York Times

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