Seeing that there was a 35mm screening of Casablanca in the local independent theatre, I suited up and dragged a couple of friends along, insisting that they dress up to respect the film. I did not regret this decision when we walked into the auditorium to find a silver haired audience all in finest regale. Unlike the rest of the audience, who would mouth the words along and laugh together in expectation, my guests hadn’t seen the film before and so they were understandably devastated when in the dying moments of the film, Humphrey Bogart poised on the runway, the picture burned hot white and split across on the screen. I had only seen something like this in Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
The projectionist came down to explain that a lot of restoration had to be done to get the print to work in the first place and that it was now irretrievable. A collective groan escaped the crowd, and as my friends sat there sullen, saying that we would need to find it online, an elderly gentleman wearing a wide grin leant over from the row behind. “A lot of films used to end like that when I was your age. You know, it happened when I watched this film! And we didn’t have a way of finding out what happened..”. In one fell swoop the romanticism had been restored by this mystical figure. This was truly a spectacle. (more…)