I saw ‘Interstellar’ on 35mm. It was part of the 4th edition of ‘Reframing the Future of Film’ with Tacita Dean and Christopher Nolan, presented by Filmmaker and film preservationist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur.
The screening took place at a beautiful art-deco cinema in Mumbai called Liberty Cinema. The crowd was chanting “Nolan, Nolan” as a chorus. What did strike me was how incredibly humble and contained a person he is. Very reserved, regal and calm.
As for the projection itself, it was a beautiful looking print with gorgeous, richly saturated, warm colours. Textural details were delicious. The difference between the DCP/Blu-ray and the print was that the latter had a soft look, which was very soothing for the eyes. The details never took a hit and I noticed no intrusive black crush. The colours were very much closer to the images of the 70mm film cells that were posted on the first page of this thread.
The colours in the ice-planet scenes were slightly dull for my tastes, lacking in good contrast (the Blu-ray is even worse in these regards). It wasn’t at all grainy, neither did the print distractingly shake. But thankfully, it wasn’t stable as dead, like digital projection. The sound was out of this world powerful and I remembered that the sound during the 90’s 35mm screenings were also this loud and thumping, but never hurt the ears like digital sound does now in multiplexes. There’s a nice echo in analog sound, especially in older single-screen cinema halls, that creates a larger-than-life soundscape.
As for the cropping (and I took careful notice), the sides were quite tight, though never compromising the framing. The home videos are much wider in that regard. But I prefer the framing of the 35mm print as it was tight and focussed on the action without adding too many distracting elements at the edges. The vertical portion of the film frame was not masked however and we could often see the tail end of the previous film frame running through the projector. The cinema did not have projectors since 2014, so they can be forgiven for not getting all the necessary equipment.
But having seen 35mm film projection, I prefer it any day than over-hyped digital projection. Digital is pixelated and hurts my eyes while film soothed them. I never got any eye-fatigue watching this. Actually, I would say the 35mm projected image is close to the quality of the UHD blu-ray in terms of the details and the colour, than the Blu-ray. However, the home videos look a bit sharper but that’s a feature I don’t really need or even want.