The IMAX version of La La Land rolls out today in roughly 100 IMAX venues nationwide and in precisely seven IMAX theatres in the Los Angeles area. I saw Damian Chazelle‘s masterpiece again last night, my fourth time, at IMAX headquarters in Playa Vista. It really does work a little more exquisitely each time. Every line, musical cue, edit, shot and insert shot (including one of Hoagy Carmichael‘s piano stool in Seb’s jazz club), every emotion…it all fits together like a fine Swiss watch.
But all the IMAX presentation boils down to, really, is seeing it on a bigger screen. Which is a welcome thing — don’t get me wrong. It’s just that La La‘s widescreen aspect ratio (2.55:1) precludes the super-tall-screen aspect from being a factor. It would be mind-blowing if Chazelle had decided during filming to capture each La La Land shot within a full IMAX-y 1.43:1 aspect ratio — then you’d really have something special. Then you’d be seeing a boxier, more headroomy version — literally an alternate cut. But that wasn’t the plan.
The designers of this new La La Land poster realize, of course, that Ryan Gosling never appears clean-shaven in the film — he is a total three-week beardo in each and every scene.
The 2.55:1 aspect ratio harkens back to the early CinemaScope days (’53 to ’54) before the addition of optical tracks cut the a.r. down to 2.35 or thereabouts.
2.55:1 was also the aspect ratio of CinemaScope 55, a 20th Century Fox format that was used for a grand total of two (2) features, both released in 1956 — Carousel and The King and I. But Fox didn’t make 55mm release prints for either film; both were released in conventional 35mm CinemaScope.