"Notice to projectionists regarding 'The Tree of Life'" by Fox Searchlight Pictures/Terrence Malick, June 2011

☛ Fox Searchlight Pictures/Terrence Malick: “Notice to projectionists regarding The Tree of Life” (scanned as it is on June, 2011)

The photocopy reproduced above came along a 35 mm copy of The Tree of Life in its shipping cases (two shipping cases holding a total of eight 2000 ft. reels). The explanations I provided earlier were updated accordingly: see “Terrence Malick’s alleged instructions to projectionists” for more details. Below, I offer some more comments, along with another example of such “notice to projectionists” written in 1975 by Stanley Kubrick for the exhibition of his film Barry Lyndon (retrieved from Glenn Kenny’s blog Some Came Running).
Malick’s notice is actually even nicer to read than what was made available by the San Diego Reader. The whole text is reproduced below:

[Logo of Fox Serachlight Pictures]

Though proper theater projection is fast becoming a forgotten art, we consider projectionists to be the last remaining artisans of movie exhibition and we implore your help in delivering THE TREE OF LIFE proprerly to the screen.
With a friendly salute, we urge you to consider the following points:

  • This film should be projected at the 1:85 aspect ratio.
  • (For film projection) Reel 2 begins with a black frame. Please be sure to cut at the marked frame or the frame line.
  • Please keep the faders at a minimum of 7.5, though we hope to set as high as 7.7 if the sound system permits.
  • There are no credits at the beginning of this film, so make sure the lights down cue is well before the opening frame of reel 1.
  • Please ensure that lamps are at the proper standard (5400 Kelvin);
  • that they have the right wattage, and they’ve been tested recently so the foot Lambert level is at standard 14.

We are most grateful to you for any additionnal trouble this is likely to cause you.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this request.
A fraternal salute,
Terrence Malick

Apparently, this notice is good for film projection as well as digital projection (as for the precision in parenthesis “(For film projection)” specifying where to cut the film at the very beginning of reel two).
The 35 mm copy is full frame (1.33:1). It appears the film was shot full frame, although intended to be presented with the 1.85:1 aspect ratio (in the letter, the 1.85:1 ratio is improperly expressed as 1:85). It would be nice to have a confirmation from another source about this. I’m also curious to see how it will be transferred on DVD and Blu-ray.
I still do not quite understand the request for 14 foot Lambert level (standards established by the SMPTE fix the luminance level for indoor 35 mm projection at 16 foot Lambert). Maybe it was simpler in this short notice to point for a single standard for both 35 mm and digital projection. For comparison, see the letter Stanley Kubrick sent to projectionists along with his film Barry Lyndon. Kubrick does not specifies a single unit of luminance, but rather indicates an acceptable range (no less than 15, no more than 18):

A notice addressed by Stanley Kubrick in 1975 to projectionists regarding his film Barry Lyndon
A notice addressed by Stanley Kubrick in 1975 to projectionists regarding his film Barry Lyndon (retrieved from Glenn Kenny's blog Some Came Running)

[UPDATE – June 23, 2011] I found a copy of David Lynch’s notice to projectionists regarding his film Mulholland Drive (2001) (retrieved from Lynchnet.com) :

A letter written by David Lynch to the "Projection Department" regarding his film "Mulholland Drive" (2001)
A letter written by David Lynch to the "Projection Department" regarding his film "Mulholland Drive" (2001). Retrieved from Lynchnet.com

[UPDATE–July 22, 2012] From Reddit: “Behold the original instructions for projecting “Gone With The Wind”.” by Reddit user DiMyDarling, July 21, 2012. Link to imgur.com (for original photos of the instructions, 4 pages document).

“Concerning the presentation of Gone With The Wind”, David Selznick, 1940, p. 2

• • •

Previously (slightly related to this topic): “Jean-Luc Godard on film’s aspect ratio”


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