Cinema Craic: Thinking Big

In Features by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

In François Truffaut’s film, Fahrenheit 451, there’s a scene that always sticks with me. The Firemen have just raided a house looking for books. They hit the Mother Load. A hidden room full of prohibited tomes. Just how did the Firemen know that the occupiers were lawbreakers – readers? Simple: there was no TV arial.

You’ll understand why, when I say that my house had no arial, no satellite dish, and no TV. My phone makes phone calls. My camera takes photos. If you want to catch me on email when I’m out an about, good luck with that. I’m not resistant to technology. In fact, I love it. I’d be genuinely lost without my laptop, my iPod, and my Kindle. And naturally, I adore movies. I just don’t want to be constantly connected. I’d rather have lots of gadgets that do one thing well than one gadget that does nothing well. And when it comes to viewing, I’d rather buy a box set and watch what I want, when I want, as often as I want, than wade through hours of adverts to get the sniff of a good drama.

When it comes to cinema, I’m equally pedantic. Digital projection? I’d prefer a guy in the booth, ensuring that everything is in focus, rather than a muddy blur because the projectionist hasn’t the time or ability adjust the lens. Surround sound? Oh great, deafening explosions and muffled dialogue. 3D? A pointless novelty that gives me headache. IMAX? Sure to be a neck-wrenching experience where all of the above issues are magnified by the sheer size of the screen and compact nature of the auditorium.

So a planned trip to London’s BFI IMAX this week had me conflicted. Conflicted because although I’d been itching to see Deadpool, I’d be watching it on Britain’s largest cinema screen. (20m high and 26m wide for those who need to know.) BFI IMAX also boasts a 12,000 watt digital surround sound system and a digital IMAX projector. Enough gadgetry to give a techno-cynic like me a serious twitch.

24 hours later, and with time for the dust to settle, I can confidently say that Deadpool was everything I’d been hoping for. An intelligent drama, told with sensitivity and charm. I cried.

And the IMAX? Well, I’m always pleased to be proved wrong. The screen was a little overwhelming at times but perfectly clear, focused, and with audio that was muffle and mumble free. As Deadpool himself would agree, size matters, and you can’t get much more immersive than a screen that fills your entire field of vision. I’m not completely sure that I needed to see Wade Wilson on the receiving end of a 20-meter tall strap on, but the IMAX certainly lives up to its rep.

As the man says, I’ll be back. In fact, Blade Runner: The Final Cut screens at the BFI IMAX this Saturday and I can’t think of a more fitting venue for Ridley Scott’s grand cinematic synthesis of sound and image.