28 June 2011

"Dear Cinema Projectionist"

Earlier this month, the San Diego Reader reported that Terence Malick sent an open letter to projectionists where The Tree of Life would screen, asking them to kindly take a few extra steps when they show his newest work. One website has posted a scan of what they say is an original copy of the letter, as well as couple of other examples of "Dear Projectionist" letters from 2001 and 1975. The notes read as friendly, almost deferential requests ("I understand this is an unusual request yet I do need your help"; "[t]hank you for taking the time to consider this request") emphasizing the enormous amount of effort, art, and skill that the highly respected filmmaker put into films in question ("[a]n infinite amount of care was given to the look of [this film]"), and acknowledging the critical role of the projectionist in the audience's consumption of the artwork ("we consider projectionists to be the last remaining artisans of movie exhibition"; "[a] fraternal salute").

Joining the ranks of Malick, Kubrick, and Lynch is now highly successful former TV commercial director Michael Bay. If you think his recent letter to projectionists is anywhere near as classy, humble, or appreciative as the other three examples, you'd be wrong. Instead, he cajoles projectionists with silly but vaguely guilt-tripping team-building language ("[w]e are all in this together. Your theatres invested a lot of money in this equipment") and then warns that he'll put the blame squarely on them if audiences rebel ("your expertise defines the audience's experience"). That's right: if audiences and critics pan Transformers: Dark of Moon, it's because the film was badly projected -- not that it was badly conceived, written, edited, or crafted.

But far be it from me to concern-troll for the projectionists! I'll let them speak for themselves. Because, really, I couldn't have made the Trash Humpers reference any better on my own.

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