Harvard Film Archive VES: Playtime (Tati, 1967)

Despite the fact that this is one of the best films ever made, despite the fact that I laugh more consistently throughout this film than any other that I have seen, despite the fact that it has the densest mise-en-scene I am ever likely to see, despite the fact that seeing it in a theatre, like Mon Oncle, feels like a scene straight from the film itself, despite the fact that dozens of scenes within the film are so close to being any number of video art pieces that I have wanted to make at some point in the last few years, and despite the fact that the score is one of the best scores ever made, always as alive and rambling as the film is, I still can’t say that I enjoyed watching this in a theatre for the first time last night.

If you are going to screen a film, especially this one, in a theatre, and you are going to show it projected digitally from a Standard definition DVD, I think you owe it to your audience to let them know beforehand in the advertisement. I would not have gone to this screening if I knew it was going to be projected from a DVD. I own the same Criterion DVD that they projected last night. I can watch it in my house, on an appropriately sized screen so that all of the artifacts, edge enhancement halos, and pixelations aren’t visible. But when you show a DVD on a full-sized movie theatre screen, you are asking for so much trouble. DVD has exactly 6 times worse resolution than Blu-ray, which has roughly 4 times worse resolution than a 35mm film. So they showed something last night that was 1/24 of the resolution that I was expecting to see in the worst case scenario. But then when I factor in that the film was shot in 70mm, 4 times the resolution of 35mm, and I know that what I saw was 96 times worse than the original intended resolution, I can’t help but get a little bit angry.

I own the poster pictured above.