Mark Romanek Pairs Never Let Me Go with Fahrenheit 451 in Los Angeles
Director Mark Romanek's dystopian sci-fi romance Never Let Me Go never seemed to quite receive its due when it was released in 2010 and subsequently written off as a commercial disappointment. But many found the restrained Kazuo Ishiguro novel adaptation gorgeous and hauntingly heartbreaking, among them New Beverly Cinema programmer Julia Marchese, who recently wrote about her quest to bring Romanek and his film to screen in Los Angeles for a two-night engagement that starts Wednesday, January 11.
For Marchese and fans of the film, the booking is more of a coup than it may seem at first glance; deemed an underperformer weeks into its original domestic limited run, Never Let Me Go wound up floundering in subsequent weeks despite its built-in literary audience and roster or rising stars (Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, and Keira Knightley), to the dismay of distributor Fox Searchlight. (The film exited theaters with a $2.4M domestic total, though it tallied another $7M worldwide.)
Still, it's a bit of a shock to hear of the difficulties Marchese encountered when she tried to book a print of the film for the New Beverly (which, recall, remains dedicated to screening 35mm) only a little over a year after its initial release. From Marchese's blog:
I have been championing the film since its release, begging friends and neighbors to see it. I wanted to play it at the New Beverly as soon as possible, but Fox Searchlight told me that out of all of the hundreds of prints made, only two remained. One was irreparably damaged, and the other on long-term loan to a cruise ship.
Whether they were telling the truth or not, I can’t say, but I will say that I am completely overjoyed that we will finally be showing it at the New Bev on January 11th and 12th with (schedule permitting) director Mark Romanek in attendance both nights.
Fox at large is one of the studios pioneering the obsolescence of film prints in favor of digital, but the reality is still startling. Two remaining prints, and one damaged beyond repair, for a film shot deliberately on film that possesses such a romantic visual world, even in its careful austerity. Luckily, if that's true, it seems that only intact print may have finally departed its cruise ship confines and will screen Wednesday and Thursday (Jan. 11-12) with Romanek in person.
Romanek, meanwhile, has chosen another ascetic but moving sci-fi romance to play in a double feature with his film: François Truffaut's 1966 film Fahrenheit 451. A great pairing if you ask me, and with Romanek in person there should be ample opportunity to ask how much he sees in the juxtaposition of not only the films' surface commonalities but in the idea that to some devotees, the phasing out of celluloid might be only a few shades removed from the burning of books.