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

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 7, 2014.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Oklahoma! is a magnificent, problem film.  Always has been.  Always will be.

    Photographed in the original 30fps 65mm spherical Todd-AO process, the immense negative was created to be projected on huge curved screens at special Roadshow performances -- a concept replicating the legitimate theater.

    An early Eastman Color 5248 production, the film's dyes have not stood the test of time.

    As viewed from the original negative (which shows the wear and tear of more than half a century of use), or even from the most recent 65mm interpositive, produced long after the original had lost much of its yellow dye layer,  the imagery flickers, has uneven fading, and does not allow reproduction of the film as it was meant to be seen.

    Wet-gate printing of the original neg to the IP solved a number of problems, the greatest of which would have been an image filled with positive and negative scratches and wear.

    ​Without our current digital tools, which have been used here to perfection, Oklahoma! would not be a pleasant experience on Blu-ray, and even less so on the large screen.  It's really by an odd confluence of events, the original elements going through restoration while there is still enough life in them to make them work, and the 8k scanning and 4k digital tools necessary to make the film appear as it should.

    ​When the restoration of Oklahoma! was premiered at the Chinese for the opening of the Turner Fest several weeks ago, I left the theatre thrilled with what I had seen and heard.  The only problem with the performance was not the fault of the film, but rather with the theatre's silver screen (a necessity for 3D projection) which yielded impossibly uneven illumination.

    I probably look at films of this type a bit differently than the normal viewer, but even from my odd perspective, grain structure (which was unavoidably very slightly heightened - no, you won't notice it), resolution, black levels, color, overall image stability and cleanliness, were all magnificent.

    Projection at 30fps yields an even sharper, and slightly more grain-free image, which comes across as a very special experience.  Because of the film's projection speed, any horizontal movement occurs cleanly, and without "picket fencing."

    Bottom line is that Fox's Schawn Belston has taken a project in serious need of heavy (and expensive) restorative efforts, and delivered.  In spades.

    To my eye, the new Blu-ray (part of the new Rogers & Hammerstein Collection) is one of the most exciting releases in the last few years.  Replicating the 30fps projection produces an extremely beautiful and stable image, while the uncompressed audio correctly reproduces the original magnetic recordings -- originally run separately from the image via dubbers.

    Those who like to contrast and compare are welcome to view the 35mm alternative, also included in the set (along with The Sound of Music, South Pacific, State Fair, Carousel and The King and I).

    You can do it.  But I wouldn't recommend it, as the difference is so huge, it makes the 35mm version appear far less stellar than it really is.  And there's nothing wrong with it.

    The restored Oklahoma! on Blu-ray is the closest that fans will get to seeing the film as it was created and meant to be seen, short of finding a theatrical 4k screening, which hopefully will be forthcoming.

    A great film, directed by the incomparable Fred Zinnemann, finally on Blu-ray in absolute top form.

    Image - 5

    Audio - 5

    Very Highly Recommended.

    RAH

     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    RAH,

    Thank you for your comments. This BD is on my viewing plate for this weekend.

    Have you look at The King and I BD yet? As you know, much debate is going on about that BD release.
     
  3. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    Sounds like this bodes well for a 30fps 65mm Around the World in 80 Days?
     
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  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Different film. Totally different problems.

    RAH
     
  5. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    Well sure RAH, and you no doubt know better than anyone what lies ahead for WB with the restoration of the Todd-AO version of that picture.

    But Fox' success in restoring and transferring the original 30fps 65mm version of Oklahoma must be encouraging to WB...my only point.
     
  6. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    Looking forward to a standalone release, as I'm not a huge R&H fan and already have The Sound of Music.
     
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  7. moviebuff75

    moviebuff75 Supporting Actor

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    I'm interested in hearing thoughts about The King and I as well....I'm getting ready to cancel my order for the set and would like to hear some professional opinions before I do so.
     
  8. Mark Booth

    Mark Booth Screenwriter
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    Thank you, Robert! And I echo moviebuff75, please look at 'The King and I' next.

    Mark
     
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  9. AnthonyClarke

    AnthonyClarke Screenwriter

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    Thanks Robert -- I've been waiting to read your views. And I hope to read you soon on Carousel -- that and Oklahoma are for me the pillars of this collection.
     
  10. Techman707

    Techman707 Second Unit

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    Do you have ANY information when (or if) they might begin work on restoring "Around the World in 80 Days"?

    It's as though these people have NO CONCEPT of who their target audience is. As I've said before, if they wait long enough, their potential audience will all be dead. They really need to give some priority to some of the classic large format films that haven't been done already. In addition, some of the films they sold off and are only available from Screen Archives is ridiculous.
     
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  11. Jacksmyname

    Jacksmyname Second Unit

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    Ditto. I turn 65 three weeks from today, and I'll be pushing up daisies by the time some of those classics are released. :(
     
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  12. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    Robert,
    Thank for your intelligent and highly informative 'few words' about "OKLAHOMA!"

    The removal of that flicker alone makes this disc invaluable, but to be offered so much more, makes it a real treasure.

    The dream ballet sequence on this Blu-ray is indeed a revelation to behold.

    Doug.
     
  13. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I NEVER do this, but I was goofing around and it worked amazingly... Try turning on the interpolation on your monitor to low during the dream ballet. You won't believe your eyes!
     
  14. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    Avoid reviewing King and I at all costs! Reviewing that would be like hugging a tar baby!
     
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  15. Techman707

    Techman707 Second Unit

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    Having looked at the Todd/AO version that came in the previous DVD version, which IMHO was unwatchable, this new Blu-ray Todd/AO version is, as I have already posted, SPACTACULAR. I only wish I could have viewed the actual film print that was screened. I hope they can restore "Around the World in 80 Days" as good as this Todd/AO version of "Oklahoma", it was a REAL SURPRISE, it was that good.
     
  16. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    Is the disc encoded as 30P or 60I? I only ask because I thought Blu-ray didn't support a 30P frame rate.

    Vincent
     
  17. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    It's 1080/60i
     
  18. Steve Tannehill

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    Not sure about that. I believe the disk itself says that it is encoded at 1080i/30.
     
  19. Mark-P

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    The disc menu just says 1080i. The "30" or "60" are exactly the same thing. The first refers to frames and the latter to fields.
     
  20. alter filmnarr

    alter filmnarr Stunt Coordinator

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    I support this post full heartily!!

    I'm getting 56 now, and "Around the World" was my first breathtaking 70mm experience, when I was a child. I will never forget it! Boy, was I in love with Shirley...

    Since then I saw it only once on a CRT TV. After that I avoided the movie, because I did not want to ruin my memories with bad quality.

    Yes I bought the full frame LD, but never opened it. I also own the DVD - the same. Since BD I feel, that I could finally have a beautiful trip to my youth with a little help of my front projector.

    And so I wait, and wait - and grow older and older. Sigh!
     

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