A Few Words About A few words about...™ Apocalypse Now -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I first saw Apocalypse Now just after Labor Day in 1979 at the Ziegfeld in a state of the art 70mm blow-up, and it was an extraordinary experience for several reasons. It was my initial experience with the film, it was my initial experience in a theater with split surrounds, and the friend that come with me to the theater to see the film was filmmaker Abel Gance.

    He liked it.

    So did I.

    A we had a great deal to discuss, inclusive of its use of stereo and widescreen..

    The Event experience of that afternoon has never nearly been duplicated, and certainly never on any home video format. Obviously, it cannot be. But the new Blu-ray, inclusive of both versions of the film, plus hours of additional material is now an obviously easy way to see the film, if not in 70mm, at least in the best possible light that home video can offer.

    The film is properly offered in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio -- I'm not a fan of crops to 2:1, and await The Last Emperor to make an appearance in its original guise. The audio delicately affects the senses, and alternately booms its way out one's speaker system.

    This Apocalypse Now, from Lionsgate and Zoetrope is an Event Blu-ray offering. With color timing and audio preparation overseen by Zoetrope, the film is precisely as director Coppola wishes it to be.

    The color, especially the jungle greens, are awesome. Shadings are delicate, blacks rich and full. Everything here is all that it can be, especially for a film now 30 years old.

    I'm hoping that many of you have never experience Apocalypse Now, as the initial experience via this Blu-ray will make it a life-changing experience. I suggest purchasing the three-disc "full disclosure" edition. Pop it into your Blu-ray player, and allow yourself to be entranced by an awesome. fully immersive, visual and sensory experience.

    Apocalypse Now from Lionsgate is Extremely Highly Recommended.

    Between Apocalypse available, and the Alien Anthology on the horizon, this will be an expensive, but worthwhile week.

    Blu-rays don't get much better.

    RAH
     
  2. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    Hi Robert,

    There's been a lot of talk on the forums that a certain level of filtering or DNR was applied to this release as film grain is often invisible and some of the detail can be suspect at times. Any thoughts on this?
     
  3. Brian Borst

    Brian Borst Screenwriter

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    I think this is another title where the 'panic' is unjustified. I've seen small bits of the Blu-ray, just to see how it looked, and it looked really good. Perhaps a tad soft, but I think that has more to do with how it was shot. I don't know if the folks at AVS are crying foul over this release (I wouldn't be surprised) but it really looks fine.
     
  4. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

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    I've documented my issues with this release (being that discs 1 and 2 are surprisingly hard to play on my system) but the transfer of the movie wasn't one of em. Frankly I thought Apocalypse Now looks pretty damn gorgeous on blu.
     
  5. Brian Husar

    Brian Husar Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't believe some of the things I am seeing on messege boards. I thought this was only trolls on IMDB, but people are complaining that there are no end titles on any of the versions. Don't people educate themselves with the film and the history? I finally saw it, after years of watching it on video tape (in both the original pan and scan and the 91 "widescreen" edition on videotape) the summer of 97 at the IMAX theater at Navy Pier in Chicago. They were doing something called "Late Night At The Max", where they were showing classic films, and if they were in 70mm, they showed them in 70mm. I saw Apocalypse at 11.30 at night. No credits, they didn't have the programs but they did have a xerox of the credits page from the programs that they passed out. I think that maybe they should have put the credits in the 48 page book, but if people want the titles there is the destruction of Kurtz's compound with the titles on disc 2, only problem is you can't turn off Coppola's commentary. This is one of the best releases this year, and it brings me back to that late night 70mm showing that I saw. Robert you still have not reviewed The Exorcist, I bought it blindly and I think it looks great but I trust your opinion.
     
  6. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    I don't wish to rattle any cages and make a fuss but i personally do not think the compression is great, i'm also not that keen on the brightness change even if it was supervised by Francis Ford Coppola, call me a moaner but i think compression in the darker scenes is not really up to scratch and is not among the best the format can offer.

    I'm actually a little disappointed in the release.
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Yeah, I read your comments in this thread, but I'm still buying it once I find a good price.

    RAH,

    Thanks for your comments too.






    Crawdaddy
     
  8. David Wilkins

    David Wilkins Supporting Actor

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    I'm one of those who agreed with FoxyMulder in the other thread, thinking that it dropped below highest marks, and was rather soft in many places. But given my lack of expertise, it's great to hear from RAH and others whose knowledge leaves mine in the dust, address the transfer with high praise; such are the reasons I keep coming here.

    Over the years I've been impressed not only by the level of knowledge of HTF members, but the civility and temperament with which opinions are discussed. A person need only stick their head in the door at a place like AVS, and listen to the incessant yammering, to really appreciate the rarity of the HTF environment. A guy can actually learn something here.
     
  9. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    With the 15% off voucher - U3D8B4J - valid until Oct. 28, it's just over $32 at B&N right now; good enough?
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I'm informed that the only area where grain was reduced was the opening sequence. The softness occasionally seen on the Blu-ray is the original photography. Overall the final product not only looks fine, but gives us the proper aspect ratio, so long lacking.

    RAH
     
  11. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

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    Great, now if I could only get the ported special features to play properly on any of my blu-ray software.
     
  12. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    Gee, i watched the whole thing over the weekend. No problems playing this on my Sony 1000ES. Damn this movie looks amazing, on both of my Sony LCDs 50 and 60 inch XBR's.

    You guys that are disappointed, let me ask, when you say the film looks a little soft, are you wishing for increased DNR, and EE? Or do you just not like how they shot movies in the 70s. I didn't see anything that was artificially softened.
    This is the best i have EVER seen this movie. Just amazing deep blacks, and nice detail.
    You wanna see how bad fog can look, go pull out your "The Fog" (1980) DVD.
     
  13. Brian Husar

    Brian Husar Stunt Coordinator

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    There were no problems here either. I am hearing tech problems and everything but I have not had any problems with my discs.
     
  14. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    I have many film classics in my collection, softness doesn't bother me and in fact i prefer the old style of cinematography to the new everything must be super sharp stuff, the compression of the disc disappointed me.
     
  15. urbo73

    urbo73 Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert, I appreciate the review and insights as always. You say that "Blu-rays don't get much better.". In some posts you are critical of grain removal, in others not so much. In the above, is the grain removal something you consider a good thing (ala the Bond films from Lowry) or something too small to get worked up over?

    I myself don't mind grain removal as long as it's not at the expense of detail and no artificial sharpening is then added. That's the only case where it can be a good thing IMO. For instance, the Bond Blus look great, other Blus don't. Due to a lot of talk about DNR and EE, it seems many consumers don't know what to do. I think DNR/EE has now become so ingrained in people's minds, that when they see ANY softness or grain removal they cry foul. See what I mean? This causes people to pause and think. Internet reviews can go back and forth. What's important is to know why it was done and if or not it affects the film in question. And this is unique for each film. If the softness is due to the original photography, then it's "A-OK" of course. But many who are not privy to this will think it's DNR "to death". Which is not the case as you say. Confusing times for a consumer to say the least!

    Ryan
     
  16. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    I watched the theatrical version the other night. All in all, I thought it looked very good for a film of its age. At times, throughout the movie, it lacked film grain so I wondered if it had been filtered, but RAH filled in my question on that (thanks!). As far as compression, I didn't note any issues. The AR is really outstanding! I also like the colors and the contrast was excellent. On the previous DVD, it seems the colors were too exagerrated and almost blown out in some scenes.

    The audio was really outstanding. The lossless track took it to a new level for sure.

    I'm looking forward to watching Redux within the next couple of weeks.

    Apocalypse Now is on my 'top 10' all-time favorite movies and it's been a long wait, but worth it.
     
  17. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Quote:

    The Bond films vs. Apocalypse are two totally different beasts.

    The image that we're seeing is directly off a 35mm interpositive of the film, new transferred -- not an older transfer as has been reported elsewhere.

    The image is one generation away from OCN, which in itself softens the overall look of the grain. Please keep in mind that where some films can look
    terrific with an OCN scanned at a high resolution, others cannot, and need the generation loss, which had been built into production testing to achieve the
    desired look. This is especially true of old productions, ie. over fifty years, where certain attributes would have been hidden behind generational printing
    or the overall resolution of the print stock.

    When I note quality on a Blu-ray I'm being absolutely specific to the particular production, cinematographer, means of image capture, printing, etc.

    RAH
     
  18. David Wilkins

    David Wilkins Supporting Actor

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    To chime-in, regarding points made and questions posed in a couple of earlier posts: I have no problem whatsoever with discs that appear soft, when it's faithful to the original cinematography; in fact, I'd want it no other way. What caught me off guard and raised the initial negative assessment, is that I wasn't prepared for that revelation regarding this particular film. I never made the connection in long memory, or in subsequent viewings via much lesser home video...that 'Apocalypse Now' would fall into that style or category of cinematography.

    So, yes...I was not expecting what is revealed by this BD. After hearing very knowledgable assessments (which mine is not), my enjoyment of, and appreciation for, what we've been offered will no doubt increase.


    David
     
  19. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    I think a lot of people assume, when it comes to Apocalypse Now, that it was a 70mm production, and ascribe to it the "sharp as a tack" association typical of such productions. Of course, it was a 70mm blowup, and while it looked and sounded splendid in that format, there was no way it could possibly match native 70mm photography. The closest comparison I can think of for modern sensibilities is upscaling. The Oppo BDP-83 and other players have excellent scaling engines that can approach, but never quite attain, BD standards, and the reason why is that the information simply doesn't exist and cannot be created out of thin air. the same is true of 70mm blowups.
     
  20. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

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    Which probably explains the flawed methodology behind Storaro's Univisium crops. By trying to add resolution, you're only adding to the source materials main flaws, and as we all know the original Apocalypse Now dvd didn't look all that great.
     

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