A Few Words About A few words about...™ Blood and Sand -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The great Rouben Mamoulian's 1941 Technicolor production, Blood and Sand was one of the most beautiful of the era.

    Using a superb cross-section of the Fox stable of actors, inclusive of the always interesting Laird Cregar, and with a rare talking appearance by Nazimova, it originally glistened in projection.

    The new Fox Blu-ray, based upon digital preservation performed several years ago, is as good as it's going to get, and that's quite okay, considering that no original elements survive.

    Color is acceptable, with occasionally odd flesh tones, and weak shadow detail, but all in all, the image allows the viewer to concentrate on the film, and not get lost in tech problems.

    For those who've not seen it, Blood and Sand is well worth the investment of time.

    Image - 2.5

    Audio - 4.0

    Recommended.

    RAH
     
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  2. Robin9

    Robin9 Cinematographer

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    Thank you. As this BRD comes from less than ideal elements, I'll look carefully at the DVD before making a decision to upgrade. I think it's absolutely appalling that a visual masterwork like this - Shamroy won an " Oscar" for his work on this movie - cannot be reproduced perfectly.
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    The cinematography won, but Shamroy wasn't responsible. Ernest Palmer was the Fox cameraman who won the award (along with Technicolor's Ray Rennahan).
     
  4. ABaglivi

    ABaglivi Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with RAH's review and with his rating. I compared DVD/Blu this morning and there is more
    shadow detail in the DVD, IMO.
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I don't think RAH's rating of 2.5 is to be taken as a negative for the BD. The BD is beyond the DVD in video presentation.
     
  6. ABaglivi

    ABaglivi Stunt Coordinator

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    Conversely, I should not take Matt's 4.5/5 as a positive!
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    If you say so.
     
  8. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    My one and only previous viewing of Blood and Sand was w-a-y back in the early 70s in IB Technicolor, which, no surprise, made enough of an impression to agree with RAH that this certainly wasn't that...it's simply not as lustrous or supple as an original 3-strip, lovingly projected.

    After that viewing, for one reason or another I never got around to revisiting this picture on either VHS, LD, or DVD, so...

    [*]I was overdue. It was simply great to see this classic again, and I think it played even better now that I'm a well-ripened adult. Back then, although I admired its production craft, I felt the drama was a bit stodgy - too many static scenes of talk, talk, talk - and not enough daring action in the bullfighting ring. Now, all of that other stuff (particularly the dalliances with Dona Sol, the quiet desperation of wife and mother, and those confrontations with the bombastic Curro) really brought the picture alive for me. But this is just as true for many other golden era pictures I'm only now rediscovering or seeing for the first time on Blu-ray with older, hopefully wiser eyes. In effect, it felt like I was watching a whole new movie...and a darn good one at that.
    [*]Any inconsistencies in colour - especially those shifting flesh tones RAH mentioned - were not a deal breaker for me; the strength of the movie 1). pretty much got me over that presentational hump. And of course, it was whistle clean in terms of dust, dirt, and other detritus, with no noticeable fringing from layer shrinkage, so Schawn Belston's team must have had a darn good go at it. Although this wasn't the finest video approximation of IB Technicolor I've ever seen, it was certainly good enough, enough of the time, to "concentrate on the film, and not get lost in tech problems."
    [/list]
    All in all a great night 'in' at the movies*.

    * Seeing Hayworth again in Blood and Sand prompted me to haul out another last best chance recovery of classic Technicolor as my second feature...TT's Cover Girl.
     
  9. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    Nice to see Mamoulian, a largely forgotten filmmaker, get some well deserved attention and affection. He made some masterful films and I for one would have loved to see his CLEOPATRA. Count me in on this Blu.
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    If you've not yet seen his Applause, it's worth your time.
     
  11. Robin9

    Robin9 Cinematographer

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    You're quite right! I got my wires crossed and was thinking of The Black Swan.
     
  12. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    I agree. I saw it at the Linwood Dunn in Hollywood a few years ago and loved it. Wish that and his DR. JEKYLL would make it to Blu. That's KINO and WB, so maybe there's some hope?
     
  13. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    Well, I've just spent a thoroughly depressing and dispiriting evening watching this. I'm not one to bitch but I have to say I think 2.5 out of 4 is generous to say the least. Soft soft soft (and not in an authentic way) with generally pale, unnatural colors, dead blacks, and with what seems like a thin layer of milk smeared over the entire thing, I can't find anything positive to say about this. I can't even be happy that this is the "best we can hope for" because I can't praise the fact that they made a sow's ear out of a silk purse and presented it on blu-ray as a slightly better sow's ear.

    The reviewer on blu-ray.com gave it 4.5 out of 5 and I have to wonder if we watched the same disc. I'm seriously baffled by his praise....
     
  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I didn't see that softness at all.
     
  15. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    Perhaps it would have been more accurate for me to say overall "lack of definition" because soft implies something consistent over the whole frame. While there may be textures that are sharply defined within the frame, the overall image is poorly defined more often than not. This may be because
    I'm reacting to an image that (somehow) manages to pull off both muddy and milky at the same time. Are you saying, Mr Crawford, that you found this to be a well-defined, uniformly sharp and pleasing presentation? If so, to quote Margo Channing, "I'm happy you're happy" but I'm afraid I can't agree on this one.
     
  16. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    Well, you can sort of see some of it on the Doc on the real one. Personally I don't think I'd care about the film in the slightest without Mankewicz' contribution
     
  17. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    No problem as I thought the presentation was pleasing to my eyes. I think you have front projector, but with my 65" plasma, perhaps the inconsistences you've experienced isn't as revealing on my smaller screen. If it's not too much trouble can you give me a couple of scenes that really bother you so I can take a closer look at them?
     
  18. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    WOAH!!! Time for a major apology to you, the forum, and possibly to FOX with a complete hang of my head in embarrassment! I did so much carping last night about this that a certain gentleman (who shall remain nameless) finally said to me, in all innocence, "Gosh, I hope I didn't 'do something' when I was in the settings menu." (!) Never mind that I can't for the life of me imagine WHY he would need to be in there in the first place but, sure enough, the Samsung's output resolution was changed from AUTO (correct) to 1080p (incorrect but, in his defense, if I didn't know better I would probably have picked this one too) and I watched the whole thing last night on a blu-ray player that thought it had to "upconvert" an already 1080p image, adding a layer of processing that softened the image and suppressed the colors. I don't exactly know why this is even an option on the Samsung as I'm sure there are lots of people who will mistakenly choose it but that's a rant for another day.

    I AM SO SORRY FOR MAKING COMMENTS ABOUT THE TRANSFER WHEN I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL I WAS TALKING ABOUT (he says sheepishly)

    I only had time to sample a few quick scenes this morning and, sure enough, what I'm now seeing is much more colorful, defined and, for lack of a better term, SOLID. I'll watch it again in whole.

    In the words of Emily Litella, "Never mind!"

    ps.....I don't have a projector :)
     
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  19. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Hey Will, at least it's only one movie you that watched with an incorrect setting. I remember somewhere in this forum there was a guy who had purchased a Blu-ray player and had been watching Blu-rays on it for 6 months, completely unimpressed saying they looked no better than DVDs. When he was asked if he was sure it was set to output 1080, he checked it out and came back with oops, it had been set to 480p the whole time!
     
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  20. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Thanks for clarifying the problem as I thought maybe, my eyesight was failing. I thought you had a projector, what display you use then?
     

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