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

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Coma, a 1978 M-G-M production, looks very nice on Warner's new Blu-ray, but doesn't stand the test of time quite as well.

    A good-looking transfer, along with uncompressed audio, Coma will be welcome as one of WB's budget BD releases.

    A quality screenplay creates just enough discomfort that you'll not wish to enter a hospital, especially as a patient. Rather like Jaws and swimming.

    Image - 4

    Audio - 4

    RAH
     
  2. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    Have always been a fan of Crichton's first three films as a director. Having read some of his writings about med school, he seems the perfect person to bring this Robin Cook novel to life.
    Hopefully we can get Warners to do M-G-M's Westworld (via Turner) next, if not beaten by Fox releasing UA's The Great Train Robbery with one of my favorite commentary tracks ever...
     
  3. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    I have loved Coma since seeing it new (in a less than great theater, one of those little boxes in Westwood, south of Wilshire), then reading the Robin Cook novel. I'll take an RAH 4-4 score on this one any day of the week.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    RAH,

    What do you mean in your first sentence about it "doesn't stand the test of time quite as well"?
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    IMHO, the film is a bit creaky. Still entertaining, and decidedly frightening if one must be anywhere near doctors, but it has not aged well.
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Gotcha! I haven't watched this film in years, but I did buy this BRD so I'll try to fit it in my viewing schedule.








    Crawdaddy
     
  7. theonemacduff

    theonemacduff Second Unit

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    I'm also hoping for a decent release of Great Train Robbery. It too has a bit of a creaky plot, but great energy, and good performances, especially from Donald Sutherland, and a good pseudo-Victorian "feel" to it. And while I'm wishing for Victorian movies on blu, how releases of Dreamchild, with the great Coral Browne, and Mountains of the Moon, which is a stunner, and more stunning every time I watch it. Come to think of it, a Rafelson boxed set of blus with Five Easy Pieces, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Mountains of the Moon (and maybe Blood and Wine as an extra), would be a welcome addition to my shelves.
     
  8. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    Mr. Harris's assessment of this transfer is just right - I found it perfect, actually - certainly looks better than the release prints did back in 1978. Perfect color, detail that's just right for this film. The opening scenes between Douglas and Bujold are horrible - always were, always will be - just artificial conflict du jour. The scene of Bujold in her dance class is actually fall out of your chair funny - you've got real dancers (including my pal Kay Cole, the original Maggie from A Chorus Line) and then Bujold "acting" like she's dancing but looking like a total "actress" trying to act doing a dance class - really bad. But the story itself is so much fun and Crichton does this kind of thing so well - Widmark is great and Jerry Goldsmith's score is one of his most underrated. The first note of score occurs exactly forty-nine minutes into the film and when it happens it just sends shivers down your spine. No one, and I mean NO one would dare do that today.
     
  9. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    Coma has a fantastic (and yes slightly cheesy) paranoid 70's vibe. Just as Looker has a cheesy 80's vibe. (interestingly only made only 3 years later.) Runaway anyone?
    I enjoy them both for what they are.
    Doug
     
  10. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    Y'all are so right about the cringeworthy scenes, which were indeed always thus. That's something I've always managed to forget about between viewings, while remembering the excellence of the rest. It's still on my list of the great '70s paranoid thrillers. I read the Crichton novel after seeing the film, and was thrilled with that as well. Of the few medical thrillers I subsequently read, none approached the overall excellence of this one.
     
  11. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    Love that the score doesn't come in until nearly an hour into the film. Great choice and, as you say, unfathomable today. I actually like the opening scenes, which have that naturalness and faux-docu style that was at that point quite prevalent in mainstream Hollywood films (how I wish we could return to that! :D). Bujold, amateur dancing notwithstanding, is quite convincing as a determined, tough protagonist.
     
  12. JoshZ

    JoshZ Second Unit

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    Robin Cook wrote the novel. Crighton just adapted.
     
  13. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    Oh good lord, yes, sorry, I absolutely did know that. More coffee needed over here!
     
  14. andySu

    andySu Cinematographer

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    I seen the beaver captures and they are not far off from the region 1 DVD I have and I'll keep the DVD I see no reason to buy the film again as its a fine transfer on DVD and up-scaling can make a little bitter without spending out more unnecessary money, plus I have watched the film over 500 times since I bought it a few years ago.
     
  15. donidarko

    donidarko Stunt Coordinator

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    The transfer is quite nice, very film like. On my 60" it looks fantastic. I've watched the blu twice already and I always feel like I'm watching it at the cinema. Highly Recommended.
     
  16. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    The BLU has been as low as 7.00 ish on amazon. if you so come across it at that price point Id purchase it, ESP if you do watch the DVD as much. As many BLUs as I own when it comes down to it there are a handful that I watch over and over Coma is one, Warners Archive BLU of DeathTrap is another. When Coma was announced for BLU it was hands down a day one purchase. I get more excited for catalog titles like Coma than most films.
     
  17. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    You're dead-on right about that. I think filmmakers today believe audiences will fall asleep unless 95% of the film is underscored, and with lots of bombastic crescendos and emotional "cues." This really sucks, because no one seems to remember how effective silence can be. But, hey, if you underscore an entire film, you can sell your soundtrack as a 2-CD set!

    The entire movie is worth watching just to see that close-up of Richard Widmark at the end...
     
  18. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    And, sadly, almost none of that "underscore" is singular or memorable enough for one to even be tempted to buy--or, more accurately, download--that hypothetical 2-CD set. Remember when scores had "themes" that you found yourself humming after the film was done?
     
  19. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    The fact that the underscore is not "memorable" is neither here nor there. Scores take on many different formats, and the one you define as "memorable" is made so by the use of "leitmotifs". Among the principal composers of Leitmotif type scores are, of course, John Williams, Erich Korngold, James Horner, etc. At this time in his career, it was extremely atypical for Jerry Goldsmith to use a leitmotif-type score; in fact, the only examples I can think of where Goldsmith used this type of score were his Star Trek films, and The Mummy (1999). This score has more in common with another science fiction thriller, Fantastic Voyage, where the music doesn't start until the submarine begins its journey into the body. Admittedly, unless you were a MASSIVE film score nerd, you probably wouldn't want to own this score, but think about the actual effect of the music in the film rather than outside of its context: If you consider Goldsmith's other scores (I'm thinking about Planet of the Apes and Alien in particular), these are not scores you would go out and buy, because the music doesn't "work" divorced from the image. That, however, does not mean it isn't effective.
     
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  20. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    It's true that COMA and much of Goldsmiith's work is atonal and, thus, maybe not so "memorable" in the sense that they contain a "tune" or theme you might easily be able to hum, but that wouldn't prevent a score NERD like me from hearing the music from ALIEN, for instance, in my head for days afterward, nor stop me from wanting to own that score (which I do, in several different iterations). That said, on the whole, in agreement with you, I appreciate most of Goldsmith's work more within the context of the film, rather than on LP. But, strangely enough, that would be atypical of the film score aficionado community, on the whole, where "Jerry's" fan following is probably more fervent, and the demand for his scores on CD fiercer, than for any other composer.

    My comment had less to do with Goldsmith and COMA and more to do with a large swath of current Hollywood scores, many of which sound--to my ears--overly loud, busy, and bombastic in a similarly nondescript, unexceptional way; most of them seem to me to be nothing more than by-the-numbers aural wallpaper.
     

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