A Few Words About A few words about...™ The French Connection : Filmmakers Signature Series -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The French Connection, winner of the Best Picture Academy Award finally makes an appearance on Blu-ray.

    I'm one of those people who believes that if a film wins important awards for Best Picture, Cinematography, Screenplay, et al, that when it is released on Blu-ray that it should come as close to that original theatrical experience as possible.

    By that I mean, if a film is cut or re-edited, and the modified version arrives on Blu-ray, that it is not the actual film that won awards, and I question whether it should be promoted as such. And I'm not referring here to simply Academy Awards.

    It is my personal opinion, that the experimental Blu-ray of The French Connection, which is based upon Mr. Friedkin's alternate version fits into this concept. And I found the experiment interesting.

    While I would have preferred that both versions arrive simultaneously, if the filmmaker is experimenting with his work, I couldn't be more pleased that both Mr. Friedkin and cinematographer, Mr. Roizman, have come together to offer The Academy Award-winning Best Picture of 1971 on Blu-ray.

    What does the new version look like?

    Totally different from the Blu-ray released just over three years ago.

    New York Gritty.

    Mr. Roizman's brilliant work on this film is finally on display via this Blu-ray, and in many ways, it set the stage for other productions. Black blacks, a color palette sometimes vivid, other times muted along with shadow detail, and an in-your-face hand-held approach that has been mimicked, but seldom duplicated. In terms of color accuracy, I'm willing to bet that a cinematographer will get the transfer correct.

    One of the things that I don't recall is if the film's logo began in black & white in 1971. Bad memory.

    This is a gorgeous Blu-ray, which should have Mr. Roizman signature on the cover alongside Mr. Friedkin's.

    One of the greatest films ever made.

    Image - 5

    Audio - 5

    Highly Recommended...

    and odd that it arrives as a Best Buy Exclusive.

    RAH
     
  2. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    Thak you Robert.
    I'm glad I waited for this.
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    It is odd that it's a Best Buy exclusive. I don't understand why Fox wouldn't want one of its Oscar winners to get the widest possible distribution (in its original look). I guess it won't always be exclusive.
     
  4. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Great. Glad I waited.
    Here are a few more Oscar-winning Best Pictures out on Blu-ray only in an altered form:
    Amadeus (no theatrical cut available)
    The Last Emperor (altered aspect ratio)
    Dances with Wolves (no region A theatrical cut available)
    Now here's a question: Which version of Lawrence of Arabia won all those Academy Awards? The film premiered at 222 minutes, but then was immediately cut to 202 minutes. Should both cuts be preserved on Blu-ray, or just the restored premier cut of 216 minutes?
     
  5. Jonathan Perregaux

    Jonathan Perregaux Screenwriter

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    I waited with arms crossed for this one and then voted with my dollar as soon as I discovered this was the real deal. Thanks, Fox.
     
  6. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    AFAIK, the 222 was screened for the Academy. But that version does not exist at this time.

    RAH
     
  7. cafink

    cafink Producer

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  8. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    I think the exclusivity usually holds for only a few months.
     
  9. lark144

    lark144 Stunt Coordinator
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    Thank you, Mr. Harris! I saw your post last night, ran downstairs and then down Broadway to my local Best Buy and managed to obtain their last copy. I also forgot the Fox logo begins in black and white, then slowly becomes saturated with color. A stunning Blu Ray that reconstitutes the original colors of the film. I was especially taken with the scene in the Lexington Avenue station of the 42nd Street shuttle, which is a mix of tungsten and florescent. The tungsten lights in the station leave traces of yellow against the green-bluish splash of florescent, especially against the passengers' faces through the open doors of the subway cars. The subway cars, only illuminated by florescent, are all bluish-green, like the interstices of a sci-fi monster. As Fernando Ray (a brilliant performance, by the way, which is based on the way he walks)moves in and out of the subway car attempting to evade Gene Hackman, his face seems to be drained of color inside the car due to the florescent light. Then his cheeks are pervaded by yellow spots from the tungsten lights as he walks back into the station. That yellow splash on his cheeks seems to signal his determination and guile, like the yellow in a painting by Titian.
    Being a more or less native New Yorker, I was a little disturbed that in Gene Hackman's pursuit of Fernando Ray, he seemed to turn the corner of Madison and 66th Street and then, with one step, magically appear on Lexington and 43rd. Still, every camera movement and edit in this film seems not only perfect but almost foretold, as if this movie was lying in some kind of embryo form inside one's head, with those saturated colors, and splendid grain. At least, that how I felt when I first saw THE FRENCH CONNECTION opening night at the Loew's State just above Times Square. I think all great movies create a kind of aura, so that when one leaves the theatre, the images from the film continue in reality. At least, that's what happened to me, for as I left Loew's State that night in 1971, dozens of policemen were poised in front of the theatre with their guns drawn in front of the poster of Gene Hackman with his gun drawn. It turned out the box office had been robbed as the closing credits were on the screen! So even though I was back in the real world, the movie was continuing.
     
  10. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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  11. Jacksmyname

    Jacksmyname Second Unit

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    Thanks for the review, Robert.
    When I read that this release was the real deal, I, like others, jumped into my car
    and hustled to BB and grabbed one of the two copies they had on the shelf.
    When I got back home, I spun up the disc to see how it looked compared to the original BD.
    BIG difference, and worth the double dip. I was not fond of the last BD.
    I saw this when it first came out, and it's been a favorite ever since.
     
  12. Richard Gallagher

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    Best Buy has this online for $14.99 and free shipping. However, their search engine is clunky. If you enter THE FRENCH CONNECTION is the search field you will only see the old Blu-ray and the Blu-ray for French Connection II. To find the new BB exclusive, just enter FRENCH CONNECTION in the search field and it will pop up.

    Currently it is backordered but for me the free shipping beats driving to the nearest store.
     
  13. Italo

    Italo Extra

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    You've probably covered this a thousand times Robert (so feel free to point me to the thread) but what are the cut scenes still extant? I heard that when you were restoring Lawrence Lean actually made some cuts would this be the missing scenes?
     
  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Not certain what you are asking?

    All of the cut scenes / shots are "extant," as I brought the film back to its 12/10/62 premiere road show length.

    RAH
     
  15. Italo

    Italo Extra

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    You mentioned that there was an academy screening at 222min, as opposed to the 216min restored cut, that's what I meant.
     
  16. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    There would have been an Academy screening in 1962 at the original length. In 1988, we screened 216-7 not counting music.

    RAH
     
  17. Ken Volok

    Ken Volok Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm thankful for Friedkin's experimentaion here. Thanks to what I learned here of his original process for the first blu-ray version (unable to post a reply on that thread) I've been able to more than satisfactorily save footage I thought was unusable, thus saving time, money and my rep!
     

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