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

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Sean Penn has deservedly won Best Actor for his portrayal of civil rights leader Harvey Milk, and Universal has delivered a Blu-ray that very closely replicates the look of the film.

    One thing that I found technically disturbing throughout, was the way that 4:3 stock footage was unsqueezed to fit the 1.85 frame, making me feel that I was viewing the film in a "big box" store, where the screen must be filled regardless of distortion.

    People become obese, and cars longer than I remember them as being. A strange decision when there are other means of handling the desire to fill the screen without doing it as noticeably.

    But that has nothing to do with the Blu-ray, which succeeds on all accounts.

    Milk, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, is Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    Seems like they messed up the transfer in doing that. Do you think that was an accidental error?

    That is really bad they are gonna be selling this film in such a poor manner by letting the 4:3 scenes be altered to look wrongly proportioned. THat is gonna be very annoying and will take the viewers attention out of the film and make it not a very enjoyable watch.
     
  3. Kyle_D

    Kyle_D Second Unit

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    It was like that in the theater, meaning it was a decision by the filmmakers. The film incorporates actual stock footage from the time period, and to get it to blend seamlessly with the rest of the film, they stretch it to fill the frame. It likely came down to a decision between cropping the 4:3 footage or stretching it, and my guess is the footage couldn't survive the crop due without sacrificing composition or dropping below a certain threshold of resolution.

    With that said, it's a great looking film. Harris Savides is one of the true master cinematographers working today and it's wonderful to hear his work here is done justice. While it's a tough sit, I'd love to see his and Van Sant's work on Elephant in HD. It's a gorgeously photographed film.
     
  4. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    So it seems like from the prev post... this is how it was shown in theatres too? I guess that is fine... but it isn't hard to switch back/forth between screen sizes... many films have done it in the past... kinda odd... but oh well.. Seems like it would be too much of a distraction and pull you out of the flow of the film by having the images manipulated.

    I guess they felt it was easier to do it that way then. I didn't see the film in the theatre, but I plan on buying the blu-ray.
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    To be clear, this is the way the film ran theatrically, which is why I noted that the BD is correct. There are many ways to affect the original footage that would not have created the current look.
     
  6. Paul Arnette

    Paul Arnette Cinematographer

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    Thanks to you and the others for spelling that out, as it wasn't clear to me on my first pass through this thread. Why, I don't know. I'm blaming it on being 1 AM though. [​IMG]
     
  7. Ted Kontos

    Ted Kontos Stunt Coordinator

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    This is a similar situation to the documentary "Man on Wire", in which the old WTC footage from the seventies is "clouded" on the sides (not stretched) on the SD version to fill the screen. On the BD, it is pillarboxed, which I personally prefer. I was surprised to see the stretching on "Milk" in the theaters.
     
  8. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    I just watched this on Blu-ray tonight (great film, BTW), and have to note that while some stock-footage shots do suffer from the "stretch" effect that you describe, not all of the stock-footage is subjected to this. It's weird that they applied it to some shots and not others, but there are many stock shots in the film that have been simply "matted" to 1.85, while others are, as you note, "stretched".

    Vincent
     
  9. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    I watched the BD last week and oddly enough the composition of that footage in question didn't bother me too much.. I would have like the boxed in approach that many other films take when they use such newsreel footage etc, but since this is how they presented it theatrically from the start I guess I can't complain much at least the transfer is the best it can be. It was a good buy. :)
     
  10. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Screenwriter

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    A friend of mine knew the REAL Harvey Milk back in the 1970's and it's his considered opinion that "Milk" does justice to the man! Having seen the movie, I'd have to agree with him.[​IMG]
     

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