L.A. Rep Cinema Pick: Godard classics on a big, BIG screen — the Cinerama Dome

This would look good framed on your wall: original French poster for BAND OF OUTSIDERS (1964). Design by Georges Kerfyser.

(UPDATE, 8/6/13: Bad news — it appears Band of Outsiders and Breathless won’t be playing the Cinerama Dome after all. They’re still playing the Arclight tonight and Thursday, but in one of the regular theaters. The Arclight website lists The Spectacular Now showing at the Dome instead. So the post below now describes an event taking place solely in a cineaste’s fevered imagination. But I hope you enjoy the Godard posters regardless…)

The 1960s classics by Jean-Luc Godard have turned up on L.A. repertory screens with welcome frequency in the last 10 years, usually in sparkling new restorations. The movies usually play at the Nuart, the New Beverly or the Cinefamily, all cherished haunts for local movie buffs, and great places to see any film, naturally.

But beginning this Sunday, new 35mm prints of three Godard movies will be showing in a way that I think it’s safe to say no one has ever seen before: at the Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, on the curved screen that is 32 feet high and 86 feet wide. That’s going to be a whole new, possibly revelatory way of seeing these movies.

(Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina are larger than life no matter what screens they appear on, of course, but you might never get the chance to see them quite this big again.)

The Godard films are three of his most accessible and entertaining works. (Does anyone ever not enjoy Breathless?) But even so, they’re an unusual choice for the Arclight Presents series. It’s even more surprising that they’re playing at the Dome rather than one of the Arclight’s cozier screening rooms. This summer has been defined by the flopsweat of struggling blockbusters, so it’s refreshing that this series will provide a lavish showcase for movies that represent the medium at its best.

There's no shortage of eye-catching posters for PIERROT LE FOU: this one's from Italy.

First up on Sunday, August 4th, is 1965’s Pierrot le Fou, an ostensible thriller (“ostensible” always applies to Godard’s genre pieces) that’s also part travelogue and tragicomic romance. Shot by Raoul Coutard in glorious 2.35:1 widescreen and eye-popping color, the vistas of the south of France and the Pop Art compositions should look spectacular on this screen.


Above: lobby cards for the brief U.S. release of Band of Outsiders in 1966. How rare must these be?

On Tuesday, August 6th is 1964’s Band of Outsiders, a mock-heist film that’s both droll and melancholy. Hundreds of years from now people will probably still be drawn to the Parisian chic that this movie exemplifies, and I imagine it’ll be a rare delight to see the famed Madison dance number on the enormous Cinerama screen.

The series ends on Thursday, August 8th with Breathless, Godard’s 1960 breakthrough, which surely needs no introduction from me. If you’ve never seen any of these movies before, this is a unique opportunity to discover them. If you have seen them before, revisiting them on the big, big screen may rekindle your cinephilia. Showtimes and tickets here.

An official L.A. cultural landmark, instantly recognizable for its geodesic dome, the Cinerama Dome was built in 1963. The theater was designed by L.A. architect Welton Becket, whose other work includes the Capitol Records building, just a few blocks away in Hollywood, and the equally famed space-age restaurant at LAX. Quite a resume; within the space of a few years, Becket created much of L.A.’s most definitive iconography.

Buckminster Fuller's all-time favorite movie theater? Photo by M.T.

If you guessed that this post was a handy pretext to bask in more vintage posters for these movies, you guessed right. Enjoy:

Original French poster for BREATHLESS (1960): I wonder if the artist even had any film stills to work from.

The U.S. release of BREATHLESS, circa 1961: note the distributor — 20th Century Fox!

A second French poster for BAND OF OUTSIDERS, circa 1964.

Japanese rerelease of PIERROT LE FOU, circa 1983. Design by Ogasawara.

One thought on “L.A. Rep Cinema Pick: Godard classics on a big, BIG screen — the Cinerama Dome

  1. The screening of Pierrot was amazing indeed, even if the print was not that new. I could not shake a feeling of “first and last chance” to see it in these conditions. I shiver at the idea of a dreadful “brand new DCP restoration” one of these days at the Aero… Great post anyway

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