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

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    If you appreciate dark humor, Charles Chaplin’s 1947 Monsieur Verdoux, may be the film for you.  It's an odd film, as it's both incredibly dark, as well as equally funny. 

    Shot in black & white, and photographed by the great Rollie Totheroh, who shot virtually every Chaplin production, going back to 1915, Criterion’s new Blu-ray is a feast for the eyes.

    Beautiful gray scale and shadow detail, with requisite resolution and grain, the imagery is almost all there.  Almost.

    While the Blu-ray is supposedly based upon a new 2k digital restoration, and derived from the original camera negative, my eyes are telling me a different story.

    The film needs additional work.  There are continuous positive scratches, mostly on the far right side of the frame, but also elsewhere -- and some of them cutting through the emulsion.  I’m also not seeing anything that appears to be from a camera original, but rather from a fine grain master.  Not certain what occurred here, but the restoration was not the work of Criterion.

    If I'm correct, a far higher quality harvest could have been attained by either returning to the actual camera negative, or to a new untainted fine grain.  The proper thing would have been a 4k scan of the OCN, as a proper archival element would have been produced.  As it appears, the Chaplin family does not have one.

    Great film, from one of the greatest (and in his feature work) least prolific of filmmakers.

    Image - 3

    Audio - 4

    Highly Recommended, in spite of image problems.

    RAH

     
  2. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    As with all the Chaplin titles, MK2 commissions their own mastering work prior to licensing them, then the licensee can make further tweaks if they desire, which Criterion does, but they are obviously at the mercy to what MK2 has provided them.
     
  3. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    and at this point in time, I wonder how long ago those MK2 HD scans were done...
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Have no idea. But MK2's work has been historically poor. Wonder how they might handle important or quality films?A pity, really.RAH
     
  5. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    Well at least it's better than other files they've been given lately (Children of Paradise...)
     
  6. Reed Grele

    Reed Grele Screenwriter

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    Does anyone know if this is the same transfer released on Blu-ray in Sweden by Soul Media Nov 30, 2011?
     
  7. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Probably based on the same MK2 HD source, but Criterion always does additional work of their own that would not be on any other release.
     
  8. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    From what I remember of the liner notes, Modern Times and The Great Dictator were both 2K transfers from fine-grain positives (plus some duplicate negative for TGD). The Gold Rush '42 is HD (1080p?) from a duplicate negative; The Gold Rush '25 is 2K from the reconstruction duplicate negative.

    I've thought the Criterion releases have been fairly solid, even with oddities like the obnoxious jump cut in Modern Times' opening credits (why didn't they use the 35mm element used for the laserdisc?) and the digitally re-created main titles for Dictator.

    Verdoux is a film I should give another chance, but I really didn't care for it when I saw it several years ago on TCM. I actually like A King in New York, which doesn't seem to have many fans.
     
  9. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    As RAH said, it seems Criterion is limited in elements to what MK2 gives them, and they and the family seem to want that version out there. I assume the jump cut is where the credits are altered.I like what I've seen of King, and so hope to see that and Limelight released before too long.
     
  10. EddieLarkin

    EddieLarkin Supporting Actor

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    I just got done with this, and was transfixed from beginning to end. I held off on this viewing for a while because I have less interest in Chaplin's sound films in general, but that'll teach me, because I found myself laughing at Monsieur Verdoux far more than I do any of his silents.

    When Chaplin is preparing the poison in Martha Raye's bathroom, and he leaves the bottle unattended momentarily, and the film quickly cuts to the maid in her room, letting us know she will feature in this scene in some important way, well, all which is about to transpire becomes obvious, and I found myself having to pause to prepare myself.

    I wasn't disappointed.
     

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