A Few Words About A few words about...™ Frost / Nixon -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Ron Howard's film version of Peter Morgan's play, is a terrific piece of filmed entertainment. The relationships, and interrelationships of the characters might have been in the hands of a lesser dramatist and screenwriter a veritable snooze fest, but the final result is a highly charged game of cat and mouse of the highest intellectual order.

    Universal's Blu-ray does a terrific job of bring the film to home theater, with I'm pleased that at least portions of the original interviews are available in the extras portion of the disc.

    No matter what one's thoughts are regarding Richard Nixon and his Presidency, Frost / Nixon will leave you wanting to know more about this troubled statesman. My first move was to purchase a copy of Nixon's Memoir, and I'm pleased that I did.

    Frost / Nixon -- great film -- beautiful Blu-ray.

    Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Working my review now )
     
  3. urbo73

    urbo73 Stunt Coordinator

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    Sam, you gave the picture/visual quality a 3.5/5, but you said it's how you envisioned it would have looked in the theater. If indeed it's an accurate representation, then why not 5/5? This is in hand with what Mr. Harris preaches. If that was the intention of the cinematographer and filmmaker, then why should a faithful Blu-ray representation be given anything less than a 5? This is why reviews throw me off, and I don't know what to think anymore when watching a Blu-ray of a film I have not seen in the theater. I'm left to wonder this or that.

    On a different note, I have not seen this film theatrically, but did see the Blu-ray. And I have a question for those that have seen it in theaters. It seems that Sheen's face is most of the time softer and sort of in/out of focus when compared to Langella's face, which is always tack-sharp and in focus on the disc. Was this a stylistic decision or is this perhaps a fault of the Blu-ray disc (encoding, etc.)?
     
  4. David Deeb

    David Deeb Supporting Actor

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    An interesting film. Especially the first hour.

    But it bothered me that Howard felt the need to "fictionalize" what I thought was an historical-based film. The late night phone call sequence between Nixon and Frost is fictionalized. I'm sure many people will watch this and think this happened. I did. Until I researched this & read reviews from Roger Ebert and others. I guess it adds dramatic flair, but I begin to question what other stuff Howard thought should be made up.
     
  5. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    All historical feature films "fictionalize" (usually called "dramatize" by the filmmakers). Even documentaries will employ dramatizations (though they tend to rely more on the actual record--not always, however). A filmmaker has to create and maintain a narrative flow and that would be almost impossible without some dramatization/fictionalization. The key is to do justice to the historical record by at least being true to the spirit of the event, if not the facts.

    I haven't seen this film yet, but my graduate work was on historical feature films as representations of history and I use historical feature films extensively in my classes. For example, if we consider the movie Thirteen Days (about the Cuban Missile Crisis), there are several moments when Kennedy has confrontational encounters with his military leaders. The tone in the film is more uniformly hostile between the two sides than it was in reality. For the purposes of the narrative, that hostility is necessary, as it is in keeping with the broad truth that there was tension between the military leaders and Kennedy. The nuances of reality would only clog up the narrative flow and make for a lesser film, if a more accurate one. It is an acceptable sacrifice. If, however, in the film, Bobby Kennedy had been less supportive of his brother than in reality, in an attempt to add "dramatic tension", that would not be an acceptable sacrifice of historical accuracy because it would be highly misleading for no good reason.

    Getting back to Frost/Nixon, if the dramatized phone conversation is at odds with the general tone of historical reality, then it is a poor use of "dramatic license" and should make one suspicious of the rest of the film. However, if it is not at odds with "the spirit" of the historical reality, then it likely represents an attempt to keep the narrative flowing in an interesting manner rather than an attempt to cynically create a false impression to heighten "dramatic tension". In your subsequent investigation, did you find the "fictionalized" moment to be at odds with the actual history?
     
  6. David Deeb

    David Deeb Supporting Actor

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    And then for the life of him, he can't remember having the conversation. Whatever ones political take on Nixon is, it is almost immaterial. He could either handle himself with Frost or he couldn't. Or did Frost make this up to defend his lack of skill as a talented journalist / interviewer. Either way, it didn't help the film.
     
  7. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Well, I've just ordered the complete set of aired interviews and will be getting this film fairly soon, so I will watch out for that (I had in mind to assign it to a class on post 1945 US political history at some point). On the one hand I find such flaws irksome, but I've found they often lead to good discussions ("flawless" works--film, books, etc.--usually just provoke a consensus and little discussion).
     
  8. urbo73

    urbo73 Stunt Coordinator

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    Without even knowing the actual facts, I could tell that scene this was added by the writer to create/show the tension/pressure felt by both characters before the final showdown. How could I tell? Well because it didn't fit with the rest of the film and the way Nixon was portrayed prior to - not something he would have done I felt. It felt surreal and imaginary/dreamy in a way, but to me in a GOOD sense that DID add to the film. It was necessary to show the tension that existed on both sides. And sometimes it's absolutely fine to create such a scene in a film to show what can't be shown otherwise. I thought it was very effective. It could also be interpreted as Frost having an illusion of some sort. Maybe he needed to imagine this for him to get the his nerves up. That sort of thing.
     

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