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Wexner Center for the Arts restores ‘The Guns of Navarone’ with 4K projector

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

There have been some changes to many local movie theaters over the past few years as what some would call sub-par digital projection rapidly replaces old-school, 35mm film in theaters. However, not every theater has completely strayed from focusing on the importance of showing films in their true form.

Spaces such as the Wexner Center for the Arts still exist, and with the unveiling of the Film/Video Theater’s new 4K (an image resolution measurement) digital projector Saturday night, it showed local cinephiles that there’s still a place in town that cares extensively about how films are shown.

The screening of a recent 4K restoration of “The Guns of Navarone” Saturday in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Theater let some students and Columbus locals alike breathe a sigh of relief, as David Filipi, Wexner Center director of Film/Video, and Chris Stults, Wexner Center associate curator of Film/Video, reaffirmed their commitment to screening the highest quality versions of films at the Wexner Center.

Released in 1961, starring Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn, “Guns” is set on the Greek island of Navarone during World War II. The 4K restoration displayed texture and color preservation in the action film, making it look more like the original film.

Filipi and Stults gave a brief history of bringing the new projector to the theater in a half-hour, informal introduction to the new technology and fielded questions from the audience.
The pair said most theaters use 2K projectors, and it’s rare for a place such as the Wexner Center to have a 4K projector. Filipi said the digital conversion has been “turning (their) field upside down in many ways,” especially in regard to the exhibition of classic films. He added he was “dreading the move.”

Stults said some methods of restoring an old film and converting it to a digital print, such as scrubbing and grain removal, can leave a film looking “lifeless.”
Wexner’s promise to only show the best-looking format of films available made the move to 4K a natural choice, and as Filipi said, will likely mean the end of other screening methods, such as Blu-Ray, in the future.

“Hopefully we’ll never have to show a classic film on Blu-Ray ever again,” Filipi said.

Stults said when it comes to digital projection, capturing the look and feel of 35mm was paramount, and Sony’s recent 4K restorations come closest. Filipi praised the studio as the leader in digital film restoration, citing “Guns” as one of the finest out there, and hoped other companies would follow suit.

According to several online retailers, Sony’s 4K projector sells for around $25,000.

At least one audience member agreed the 4K technology was a good way to view the film.

“It was pretty cool,” said Marion Kruse, a graduate student studying classics. “Like they said, it really captured the graininess of film.”

Filipi and Stults said they hope to bring more high-quality restorations to the Wexner Center in the near future, including a recent 8K restoration of “Lawrence of Arabia,” while maintaining a deck of other projection methods to keep the theater’s line-up stacked with an array of films new and old, from all over the world.

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