A Few Words About A few words about...™ 8 1/2 -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Strangely, and without plan, I viewed 9 and 8 1/2 within a day or so of one another. The disparity between the two could not be greater. There have been marvelous films about the process of filmmaking -- Day for Night is another giant that comes to mind. While Day for Night lives in reality, 8 1/2 is a two hour plus dreamlike vision.

    A vision that comes off as an undeniable bona fide classic, that has stood the test of time.

    I haven't screened 8 1/2 in more than a decade. This can probably be traced to repeated college screenings of worn, 16mm prints that (along with Antonioni's L'avventura) numbered in the dozens. I'd had my fill, as incredible as the film was.

    Seeing Criterion's new Blu-ray of the Fellini classic after a long absence was like spending time with an old friend -- the kind that finishes your sentences.

    Probably my greatest memory of the film in those old prints, caused by the extremely thin print exposures in opening scenes, was the constant plethora of dirt, scratches and wear that veiled the image.

    Seeing it in this new presentation, derived from a 35mm fine grain master, is an awe-inspiring experience.

    Sharp, with enough grain left in for comfort (surviving a light DVNR), and that multitude of burned out shots, now perfect and clean, as I'd never seen them before.

    Those fortunate enough to have never been exposed to this penultimate Italian classic will be thrilled with Criterion's efforts. I'm a great believer that one can only see a film for the first time once, and that that first time should be something special. It is precisely for that reason that I dissuade friends who have never seen Lawrence or Spartacus from viewing them on any home format. While they cry out for quality 70mm projection on a huge screen, this particular 8 1/2 works beautifully in the home theater environment.

    Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Originally Posted by Robert Harris

    (Sorry. . .the grammar gene takes over sometimes. . .)
     
  3. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    In a week or so I will be seeing this for the first time.
     
  4. OliverK

    OliverK Cinematographer

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    You got a very good point there, especially Lawrence of Arabia struck me as working much better on a large screen. It is very much of a visual movie that profits more than other from seeing it the way it was intended - in 70mm on the big screen.

    What would you suggest for movies like Ben Hur, Exodus, El Cid or King of Kings ?

    At the present it seems the best way that we will get to watch them in the foreseeable future will be in 4k projection once they have been properly scanned for an eventual Blu-Ray release in case of the movies that are with Warner and Universal, of El Cid there might be a decent Technicolor print with 4 channel magnetic sound somewhere. Of course new and unfaded 70mm prints would be best but it seems that neither Warner nor Universal are still willing to spend any money at all on producing 70mm prints of the movies they own and I would not even dream of a new print being struck of El Cid.
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Most films created for large format projection are best viewed natively on huge screens, as intended. I would drop Exodus from that list, as IMHO it isn't a very good film, and if it ever was, it has not stood the test of time.

    As to El Cid, I'm unaware of any element problems. They must simply be accessed.

    I don't believe that 4k projection is quite there yet for this purpose as we can't yet get enough light out of that little hole. I'm certain it will come.

     
  6. OliverK

    OliverK Cinematographer

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    I have to say that I was happy to attend a screening of a vintage print of Exodus at a festival in 2008 and I liked it a lot although it certainly is not the typical 70mm classic.

    Which brings me to the point I was trying to make that apparently got lost somewhere in my previous post:

    Technical issues aside it seems that some big studios (Warner, Universal) have not produced any 70mm prints for quite some time and there seems to be no indication that this is changing. So if indeed there will never be another 70mm print of Ben Hur or Mutiny on the Bounty or My Fair Lady made for public exhibition we would have to be happy with something like a 4k projection in order to enjoy it in a movie theater.

    Do you think we can look forward to new 70mm prints from these two studios or will it basically be Fox and to a lesser degree MGM and Sony that keep their large format titles alive on the big screen ?

     
  7. Kriztoffer Swank

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    Good to hear 8 1/2 on Blu-ray gets the Robert Harris approval. I just found out it was released this week, and instantly came to this board to seek your opinion. Thank you. A definite buy for me.
     

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