Last week I fulfilled a dream I’ve had since I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time on my family’s old 32-inch, component cabled tube TV over a decade ago. I finally saw the most visually breathtaking and hopelessly mind-bending film in a theater. Not only that, I saw it at one of the best theaters in Indianapolis.
The Toby Theater in the Indianapolis Museum of Art is a master work in the art of illusion by having the capacity for 530 people in a room that has the feel of a 100 people or less private screening room. Giant bean bag chairs adorn the front row while a balcony rests in the back.
The screening was part of the museum’s Winter Nights Film Series. An annual series of screenings of films fitting a theme. This year’s theme was Visual Feasts and included such titles as Apocalypse Now, Sin City and two screenings of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The museum also hosts a Summer Film Series in their amphitheater.
After the movie, my friend and I spoke to one of the people in charge of the event. Noticing the movie wasn’t a 35mm print, we asked about how it was projected. He told us they intended on showing a 35mm print of the film, however, the print they received was subpar so they opted to project the blu-ray version. The last time I’d seen the movie was three years ago on blu-ray on my HDTV. It was and still is one of the most jaw dropping blu-rays I’ve seen and none of that awe was lost when projected on a giant screen.
When asked about the upcoming Summer Nights Film Series, a look of joy and excitement spread across the man’s face. He didn’t go into details, but he did tell us there was a theme and they were going to leave one of the movies open to audience suggestion. You can expect the titles to be announced with the next couple months.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience at a venue I will gladly return to in the future. After only one screening, The Tobias Theater at the Indianapolis Museum of Art has found its place on my top theaters of Indianapolis list. The Toby sits as comfortably as its seating behind the Indiana State Museum IMAX theater (the only 70mm IMAX theater in the state) and the Keystone Art Cinema & Indie Lounge (because there’s nothing like enjoying a cold beer at the cinema).
As for the movie itself, it was better than ever. This was my 5th time seeing it and every single viewing has been different for me. The ambiguity of the ending only means that, as I grow, my interpretation of the movie grows as well. And so, each viewing has come with a different interpretation of what the ending (and the film as a whole) means. I own three different copies of it and I am confident that whenever the next format comes, 2001: A Space Odyssey will be one of my first purchases for it.
While I do wish I could have seen a 35mm print of the movie, I am very pleased the museum chose the best possible alternative instead of trying to pass off a subpar print. A schedule of upcoming events at The Toby can be found here.