A Few Words About A few words about...™ City Lights (1931)-- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Sir Charles Chaplin acted and / or directed about 70 films before he moved from one, two and finally three-reelers, on to longer form productions c. 1918-20.

    When sound arrived in 1927, he virtually ignored it, with the exception of synchronized musical scores for The Circus (1928), City Lights (1932) and Modern Times (with the exception of a single sequence) in 1936.

    A consummate perfectionist on the scale of a Kubrick or a Lean, a production could take several years before meeting his approval, with hundreds of takes toward perfection. Many takes survive from his Mutual productions, and being able to view them almost a century later is an extraordinary experience, allowing us to understand his creative process. If Kevin Brownlow's The Unknown Chaplin is unknown to you, find a copy.

    After a rocky DVD release via converted PAL transfers several years ago, the domestic license is fortunately with my friends at Criterion, and they've done everything possible to make their Blu-ray releases as perfect and filled with extra content, as possible.

    The Chaplin features are arriving slowly, but arriving nonetheless, with City Lights the fifth release in the series, which now offers The Gold Rush (1925/42), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1940) and Monsieur Verdoux (1947).

    On the horizon should be a catch-all volume with his earlier films, ie. Shoulder Arms, Sunnyside, et al, The Circus (1931), Limelight (1952) and A King in New York (1957).

    Aside from A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), which must come via Universal, you have before you the entire Chaplin output of feature films.

    But more on City Lights...

    Offered by Criterion in its correct 1.19 aspect ratio, the film is stable, properly grained, from a high resolution dupe, which allows the nuance of light shadow of Mr. Totheroh's cinematography to shine through after three-quarters of a century.

    Everything about this release is as perfect as it can get.

    For those who don't have the Criterion Chaplin's as a part of their library...

    I can find no excuse.

    One of the extras on the new Blu is footage of Chaplin behind the camera, working on one sequence, and blocking and rehearsing another, interestingly out of costume and make-up. Extraordinary stuff.

    Image - 4.5

    Audio - 5

    Very Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
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  2. EddieLarkin

    EddieLarkin Supporting Actor

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    Chaplin's entire Mutual filmography also coming to Blu-ray next year as per David Shepard.
     
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  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The majority from rather extraordinary film elements. Original negatives survive on a number of the films.

    THAT Blu-ray will be essential.

    RAH
     
  4. Oblivion138

    Oblivion138 Second Unit

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    Picked this up on Day One, as I always try to do with new Chaplin BD releases. A beautiful presentation of a beautiful film.
     
  5. youngman

    youngman New User

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    The European BD had serious issues of flickering, especially during the classic touching final scene, probably due to the source material. How was it treated on the Criterion?

    Marcus
     
  6. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    Doesn't The Kid count as a feature?
     
  7. EddieLarkin

    EddieLarkin Supporting Actor

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    I believe Robert is referring to it with this part of his post:
    Criterion have the rights to the 8 First National films Chaplin made, one of which is The Kid. Hopefully Criterion will be releasing them all together, as a "First National" set, or at worst, something like "The Kid and Other First National Films". Releasing The Kid by itself and the shorts separately would be a bit redundant since some of the shorts are basically feature length anyway.
     

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