What makes 35mm great?

You may have seen next to some of our films here at the Curzon the mysterious lettering “35mm”. What is 35mm, what is the benefit and how is it different to a normal film? Well if you went to the cinema any time before the turn of the millennium you will have watched film in 35mm.

35mm refers to the film stock it is projected on, the majority of our screenings are projected digitally but whenever we can we like to use our original 35mm projector to give what many consider to be the authentic cinema experience.

“Projecting a film in 35mm is like projecting a piece of history, that reel would have gone round the country screening to audiences the first time around, that’s why it’s so special. I also like that 35mm lasts longer, if you left a digital hard drive and a 35mm reel in a warehouse for 100 years, chances are the hard drive wouldn’t work but the film reel would.” – Luke Doran, previous General Manager at Curzon Cinema & Arts.

FAQ – Is it smaller?

Nope, it is projected in the same aspect ratio on the big screen as digital.

“What I love about 35mm is it’s the opportunity to see a film in the way the director intended. In my opinion, good directors take advantage of the medium they expect to be used (in the same way that great records do) and we only get to see classic films in that way when we show them on 35mm.” – Simon Savage, previous Volunteer Projectionist.

FAQ – Is the quality worse?

Nope, in fact a lot of people, including such directors as Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, J.J Abrams and many more prefer the aesthetics of 35mm. Some of cinema’s biggest and best films are still shot on 35mm film as opposed to digital for this reason. Occasionally we get to see the latest movies not only shot on film but projected on film as well, such as this year’s beautiful print of Dunkirk.

“For the last 10 years, I’ve felt increasing pressure to stop shooting film and start shooting video, but I’ve never understood why. It’s cheaper to work on film, it’s far better looking, it’s the technology that’s been known and understood for a hundred years, and it’s extremely reliable.” – Christopher Nolan, Director of Dunkirk.

“It’s just like the difference with vinyl and MP3. There’s a silkiness and depth to 35mm that you don’t get on straight digital.” – Susannah Shaw, Chief Executive Officer at Curzon.

In 2017 at the Curzon, as well as Dunkirk, we have shown; Blue Velvet, Moon, Ali, Ray, Dreamgirls, King Kong (1933), The Exorcist and Citizen Kane on 35mm. And we plan on projecting 35mm for many movies to come.

“Why would you go to the theater? 35mm, which most people don’t have in their house, well that’s a reason.” – Quentin Tarantino.