For those early viewers still nursing lukewarm responses to Australia, Baz Luhrmann has a note making the rounds that hints your projectionist might be to blame. While it's hardly uncommon for anal directors to personally attend to details of test screenings and premieres, a tipster has passed along something you don't see every day: Luhrmann's personal directions to theater managers on how not to screw up his epic when it opens Nov. 26:
Dear Theater Manager and Projectionist, I’m wondering if you could help me. I’ve noticed that when the film is being projected in the digital form we can lose the crucial character of ‘The Drover’ [Hugh Jackman] who is standing by the tree on the left hand edge of the frame in three shots in the final scene of the movie. [...] The correct framing for scope is critical on this film and theaters should make sure that they are projecting the full width of the scope 2:40 image, and not cutting anything off on the sides. [...] I really appreciate this effort as it means so much that the audience gets the full benefit of the staging, projection and sound. I also hope that you get some value from the experience of this film. Best wishes, Baz Luhrmann
There's lots more about sound levels and the like, but that last line — underscoring the critical distinction between "valuing the experience of this film" and "enjoying it" — surely gave the perfectionist Luhrmann added pause. We envision balled-up drafts littering his office floor, each version bearing some new permutations of, "Please focus the projector whenever possible during calls to your girlfriend," or "Please remember to turn the speakers on before you disappear to the arcade," or "If you see Jason Statham onscreen, you're in the wrong booth," finally scrapping them all for the simple compromise of three accurately framed shots in the film's 160th minute. And why not? He worked hard for that ending!