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Uddrag af Interview med filminstruktør Ken Annakin om "Panserslaget ved Ardennerne" i Ultra Panavision 70

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Interviewet i Bradford, UK, 11. marts 2000 af: Thomas Hauerslev. Se fuldt interview på in70mm.comDato: 16.04.2022
Ken Annakin inspicerer 70mm kopi af "Panserslaget ved Ardennerne" ved spolebordet i Pictureville biografen i Bradford (UK) marts 2000. Foto: Thomas Hauerslev

Thomas Hauerslev: Tell me about the circumstances for choosing Ultra Panavision 70 for "Battle of the Bulge".

Ken Annakin: On "Battle of the Bulge" I did not have the choice of the system, but one of the things that helped me decide me to make this movie was the chance to show tanks looking like monsters, coming out of the ground and towering over the puny, small "human insects". Then, of course, I had to show how the human beings actually win the battle. That was my concept and I could only achieve it on a system like Ultra Panavision 70.

• Gå til Se "Panserslaget" i 70mm den 1. maj 2022
• Gå til Bag om "Panserslaget ved Ardennerne"

THa: You were saying "God was with you on "Battle of the Bulge""? What did you mean by that?

Ken Annakin: The first day of shooting, when the whole armada of Shaw's tanks came out from under the trees, we had prepared the ground to look snow covered, with marble dust. And we had four big wind machines behind my camera ready to blow snow all over the foreground. I gave the signal to start and Alex Weldon, my special effects guy started up his snow machines. As the tanks rolled out, the snow looked great, so I gave him the "thumbs up" sign, meaning "Great!" He looked at me - we couldn't hear each other because of the noise, and shook his head. Then he pointed upward, his lips mouthing "Not me - HIM". He meant that God was making the snow, and it continued to snow for 6 solid weeks.

We often had to walk two miles to the locations, and the tanks spun round and threw up mud in the snow. Believe it or not, I had 80 regular tanks from the Spanish army under my command. They passed perfectly for the German tanks used in the battle at this time...and I turned them into monsters!

After the six weeks, the producer Philip Yordan showed me a cable he had just received from Jack Warner in Hollywood. It said:

"Congratulations! This is some of the best war material I have ever seen".

This obviously gave me and my crew a great shot in the arm.

Læs mere her:

Bag om "Panserslaget ved Ardennerne" i Ultra Panavision 70

Se "Panserslaget" i Gentofte Kino, 1. maj 2022: 7OMM Filmfestival Ken Annakin (DE)
Ken Annakin (UK)

Sensationel Todd-AO Forestilling i Malmø "Disse Fantastiske Mænd i Deres Flyvende Maskiner..." den 16. marts 2013

Historien om 70mm Film i Danmark

Danmarks 70mm og Storformat Biografer

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Mine damer og herrer, "Dette er Cinerama"!

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Biografmuseets biografhistoriske kalender. Vigtige datoer og begivenheder i biografhistorien

Ken Annakin med 70mm film fan i Pictureville biografen i Bradford (UK) marts 2000. Foto: Francois Carrin

THa: Can you remember why Cinerama was brought into "Battle of the Bulge"?

Ken Annakin: Around this time the Producers began to realize that they weren't going to have enough money to finish the film on the scale we were shooting. Suddenly a Guardian Angel appeared in the form of William R. Forman, who owned Cinerama. I think he had been shown my tank footage by Jack Warner, and he said,

"This is perfect for my new process Cinerama!".

He came over to Segovia with a special Cinerama Cameraman, George Willoughby. After discussions, we made arrangements for him to cover quite a few shots of tank movement from the air, plus downhill car shots, which almost had a 3D effect. For our part we carried on shooting with our Panavision cameras, and eventually printed everything in Cinerama process and format. Obviously it all worked!! I remember we premiered in the Cinerama theatre [Hollywood, ed]. And Forman's girl friend led 500 troops down the boulevard before the show started.

THa: How did his girl friend come into the picture?

Ken Annakin: One of Bill Forman's conditions for him to put his money up, was that we had to use a girl called Barbara Verle, in the movie. I remember Robert Shaw strongly objected to shooting three new scenes, which had been written for her. He said,

 "She's not a trained actress and she'll let down the picture".

Shaw was adamant. Eventually, Forman said,

"Look, I invested in this picture and I made Barbara a promise. I'll tell you how it came about. I was in jail for tax evasion for 16 months. She came and visited me every day. Every single day! And I made her a promise that when I got the chance I would help the poor kid become a movie star. That's why she's has to be in this picture".

I eventually said to Shaw

"This a very understandable and human reason. If she's no good I'll shoot the scenes in such a way that we can only just show her, and cut away to you or something else".

Most reluctantly, Shaw agreed and we overcame the crisis. Barbara didn't become a great movie star, but Forman was able to keep his promise.

Ken Annakin poserer med en Victoria 8 70mm maskine i Pictureville biografen. Filminstruktør Ken Annakin var æresgæst under Widescreen Weekend i 2000 i Bradford, UK. Picture by Thomas Hauerslev

Tell me about sound recording on the set.

Ken Annakin: I don't recall it made any difference except that the mike had to be hung higher to stay out of picture. We recorded all sound for "Flying Machines" and "Battle of the Bulge" on location as we filmed. I'm sure it is likely that a lot of post syncing was done afterwards in the studio. It's a strange thing nowadays to read about Directors who are expected to go through every step of Post Production. In the days that I was making these big movies, I rarely went through more than one stage. You completed your final Director's cut and then it went into the Studio Post Production "machine", and they did all the rest of the work.

Certainly on "Flying Machines" I was very much involved with the music, but didn't take part in the final dub, nor on "Longest Day" or "Battle of the Bulge".

On the latter as I have said we had almost run out of money, so much so, that I first was asked to edit my final battle scenes personally with just the help of a Spanish assistant. I hadn't been editing myself for quite some years but I enjoyed doing that and it looked excellent. It remained to have the tank special miniatures filmed by Eugène Lourié, our special effects guy. I never saw the film again until the premiere in Hollywood. Philip Yordan met me with a rather guilty look in the foyer and said

"Look, Ken, my co-producer Milton Sperling tried to improve what you had edited, but we never got it back being as good again as your cut".

That taught me that in such a situation you must always make a personal dupe of your work, so that if anyone plays around with it, you can put it back again. There is always some kind of lesson you learn on every film.

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Opdateret lørdag, 16 april 2022 14:15:58