Ah, the pleasures of celluloid. Physical film running through a projector. The switching of reels. The shouts of "FOCUS!" from the audience. The nagging feeling that somewhere, in some skank theater in West Texas, where the last picture show by all rights should have been shown while Truman was President, there is a cleaner, brighter, less spliced-together print than the one you're currently viewing.
Over Labor Day we hit the The Loft Cinema to see a 70 mm showing of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which I hadn't seen, and went at the urging of my spouse. I had wearied of Harry, but Beasts was much better than I expected it to be. Hats off to J.K. Rowling and Eddie Redmayne and the rest of the crew. And the 70 mm? It was a blow-up from 35 mm, and I believe the film itself was shot digitally on an Arri Alexa XT, so one can debate whether the film format is, in this case, worth the hype. Still, it was a healthy crowd, there was moderate applause at the end, and 'twas a good way to spend a thinking-of-hot September afternoon.
Now then, this Arizona business. In the movie, Newt Scamander comes to New York City to repatriate a giant bird he calls "Frank" to his natural habitat. That habitat happens to be Arizona, and Frank is not just any big chicken. He's a Thunderbird. How is Arizona represented pictorially? Well, it isn't Scottsdale. No, director David Yates gives us sweeping images of the old Ford fan favorite, Monument Valley. Which, on this site, appears to be in Utah, and a bit of it is, but mostly it isn't. Mitchell Mesa, the Mittens, Merrick Butte, all those great rock formations that John Wayne leaned against and rode past, are right here.
And Rowling knew this, or Yates, or maybe the location manager, because when Frank finally gets home, I'll bet this is where he's headed:
Thunderbird Mesa...which is in Monument Valley, which is Arizona.