Campus Theatre screens movie on 35 millimeter film

Anna Jones

Arts & Life Editor

Most students know the Campus Theatre as the one place in Lewisburg that plays some relatively current movies. What they are unaware of is that the Campus Theatre has capabilities that very few other current movie theaters have—the ability to play movies on 35-millimeter film.

On Sept. 10, the theatre used this capability to show “Paths of Glory,” a 1957 Stanley Kubrick film about World War I soldiers.

This type of film is the actual, physical filmstrip that has been used to record every movie ever created from 1895 until recently. Many film scholars regard this medium of film as the best means of film creation. Nowadays, few movies are created or shown on 35-mm film. This format is extremely expensive to ship and the filmstrips tend to wear out after many uses. Most theaters now show digital films, since they can be easily and inexpensively shipped around the world.

“You can play [a digital file] a thousand times and it’s going to look as good the thousandth time as it did the first time,” Academic Film Programmer Rebecca Meyers said.

Unfortunatly, there are disadvantages to the current digital format. First, many historical movies, including “Paths of Glory,” were created to be shown on 35-mm film. Directors realized that 35-mm film gives a specific texture to a movie and also enriches certain colors, so they specifically used these features to give their movie a certain feel.

“Blacks, for example, are very rich and beautiful on 35-mm film in a way that they’re not in digital cinema,” Meyers said.

There’s also an issue with storing movies in a digital format. Since technology evolves so quickly, there is no guarantee that a movie made today will be watchable in 50 years. Often, computer disks break down in storage or the technology changes so that old films just aren’t compatible with newer projection systems.

Film is one medium that has been used, watched, and rewatched for the entirety of movie history.

“Film prints, if they’re stored carefully, will just last and last and last,” Meyers said.

If theaters have the ability to show 35-mm film, they can show just about any film ever created, which opens audiences up to many new titles and genres that would otherwise have been forgotten.

“If you show a 35-mm film in a digital format … you’re not showing it the way it was meant to be seen,” Meyers said.

The Campus Theatre uses time and money to keep their 35-mm projector in good shape so that they can show historical films the way they were intended.

“Paths of Glory” was shown as part of the BU film series, a group of movies selected and sponsored by professors in the English, philosophy, and other departments. Many of the movies shown throughout this series are 35-mm film, and therefore offer a unique experience. The movies are free and open to the public, so any student can attend any showing.

“I want to offer a place where people can learn about and experience cinema in a way that goes beyond the boundaries of the local multiplex,” Meyers said.

The movies shown give students a deeper insight into a genre that is broad, and Meyers urges students to attend any showing possible.

For more information about the BU film series and upcoming showings, visit the Campus Theater’s website.

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