Yesterday, it was announced that 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark will be getting a limited run re-release in IMAX next month. Along with hoping that the next two parts of the trilogy also receive such a privilege, I wonder if this will mark a new frontier for the whale-sized-screen format: old movies.
Let me state here that I don’t know how much it would cost to make an older film IMAX worthy, but if it is economically feasible, I can’t think of better uses for the space than presenting some of the most classic films of all time. During the year, IMAX struggles with programming. As great as it is to fully immerse oneself in a movie, many IMAX selections really don’t seem worthy of, or even benefit from, the treatment. Do we need to see the pauses and extreme close-ups of The Twilight Saga 60 feet high? Eagle Eye? Wrath of the Titans? Dark Shadows?
But movies that have an appreciation for cinematography, intricate set design, natural scenery, and an epic (in the traditional sense) feel can certainly make better use of the format than most of today’s effects spectaculars. Bringing some of the early Disney animated features to IMAX might rekindle the lost appreciation for the hand drawn artistry of Fantasia and the like. Even visually outstanding, scope-conscious newer films such as The Tree of Life and There Will Be Blood can be greatly enriched on the really big screen.
When watching Prometheus, which remains one of my favorite IMAX experiences, the thought of a re-release of Lawrence of Arabia crossed my mind. (It was the film David was watching while everyone else was in cyro-sleep.) The same goes for other expansive war movies such as Patton, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Apocalypse Now. Witnessing the landscapes of John Ford and David Lean on the largest possible canvas could breathe new life to their iconic features.
However, where this option might work best is with science fiction. One of the best aspects of space is its isolation, and that has become mostly lost with a lot of newer movies. Modern day space operas tend to throw as many ships as they can on the screen. Older films made great use out of the empty vastness of space, and IMAX can give it a weight that cannot be replicated in conventional movie theaters or on a home entertainment system. Moreover, the details on many of the models are truly impressive, a feature often lost on smaller formats. Obviously, the best example for this genre would be Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but there are also the first two Star Trek films (yes, I am referring to The Motion Picture); Blade Runner; Brazil; and the original Tron. It’s time for more people to learn about Disney’s The Black Hole– a disappointingly underappreciated sci-fi film, and I would put VINCENT and BOB up against any non-human cinematic creature.
Of course, the big get would probably be the original Star Wars Trilogy. Unfortunately, we’d probably only be able to see the “Noooooooooo” edition. I can’t go back to the singer at Jabba’s Palace again. I can’t, I won’t.
So readers, what do you think about IMAX Classics? Any movies you would like to see get preferential treatment?