This weekend, Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark was re-released in IMAX theatres for a one-week exclusive engagement. I found it to be an absolutely invigorating experience, not just because is Raiders is one of my very favorite movies, but because the gorgeous cinematography, iconic action scenes, rousing John Williams score, and incredible Ben Burtt sound design all looked and sounded better than ever blown up to IMAX proportions. I do not exaggerate when I say that, for all the times I have seen Raiders, I had never seen it like this. In this day and age, when movies come out in IMAX all the time, it seems only natural to offer an iconic adventure film like Raiders in the format. In fact, there are plenty of classic films that would do well in IMAX. Movies with incredible aesthetics that could be enjoyed to their fullest on a giant IMAX screen in the format’s 15/70 perf. 70mm film stock. While there are probably too many deserving films to count, I have picked the ten movies I would most like to see released on IMAX, and it is the topic of today’s countdown.
While this is undoubtedly one of the best films on the countdown, I have no earthly idea if a film as old as Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is fit for IMAX resolution. The existing prints could simply be too worn out and battered to undergo the IMAX DMR process, and there’s every possibility that even if it could be done, it would look awful blown up to that size.
But as long as we’re dreaming here, I would love to see this attempted, if only as an experiment. Seven Samurai has some of the greatest, most awe-inspiring cinematography of all-time.
If you have only ever seen Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather on home video, it may strike you as a strange film to suggest for IMAX viewing. But earlier this year, I had the chance to see the recent Coppola-supervised restoration screened in 4K resolution on Cinemark’s XD screen (the theatre chain’s smaller answer to IMAX), and can attest to the fact that few cinematic experiences are as visually powerful as The Godfather.
I really wanted to feature Godfrey Reggio’s beloved avant-garde documentary Koyaanisqatsi on this countdown, but its sister film Baraka, directed by Koyaanisqatsi cinematographer Ron Fricke, is undoubtedly better suited for the IMAX format. Both are visual tone poems depicting the wonders and challenges facing modern society, but Baraka has even greater visuals than its predecessor, largely thanks to Fricke’s employment of 70mm photography.
Lawrence of Arabia
Like Baraka, this one is a very simple equation: Lawrence of Arabia is hailed as one of the most gorgeously photographed films of all time, partially for its innovative use of 70mm film stock. Fans of the film still agree 70mm is the best way to see the film, so much so that the film is still routinely screened in the format. And IMAX, as I have just noted, is the best and biggest of the 70mm formats, one that is much more easily accessible to most viewers than standard 70mm projection systems.
Ridley Scott’s seminal science-fiction classic Blade Runner is not just one of my personal favorite movies, but one of the most visually compelling films ever made. Scott and his team crafted an absolutely jaw-dropping vision of the future, one pulsing with life, detail, and depth in each and every frame. Bleak sci-fi landscapes are common to the genre; filthy, hopeless, decaying, and completely, utterly believable future visions like Blade Runner are singular, and I would love little more than to examine the film’s remarkable visual palate on the world’s largest screen.
While we’re discussing sci-fi, we may as well salivate over the thought of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, granddaddy of them all, on the biggest of big screens. This is another film that was originally photographed in 70mm, and that incredible resolution has always shone through. It would look better than ever on IMAX, where one’s appreciation for Kubrick’s beautifully prescient production design and special effects would rise exponentially.