A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Last of the Mohicans -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,276
    Likes Received:
    5,160
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    I presume that most of you have heard the word "painterly" referring to a film's cinematography, or the phrase "painted with light." Dante Spinotti, who photographed Michael Mann's pre-revolutionary war adventure, based upon the almost unreadable book by James Fenimore Cooper, does precisely that.

    He paints with light. Tiny bits of light that reflect and disappear between trees and leaves and moonlight.

    Visually, this is a very low key Blu-ray, with numerous extremely dark scenes, which hardly shed a light on the subjects. Even well lit scenes, not under trees, and outdoors have a low key look to them.

    And that look, especially on well tuned systems, is absolutely gorgeous. Many colorists, if presented with the look of this film, would have immediately cranked up the contrast. But that would have merely made things heavier, and far less visible than the images on this Blu-ray. When we need to see into the shadows, we can, as this release has been prepared with a delicate hand, and a knowledge of the benefits of light vs. shadow on film. This is a beautiful rendering of image.

    Sonically, the uncompressed audio is a treat, with directionality when necessary, and low resonating sub-sonic information during battle scenes.

    The Last of the Mohicans is a quality adventure tale set during the French and Indian War, c. 1757, with superb casting and acting. The Blu-ray shows off the brilliant military uniforms, as well as details in beads and leathers. The forests are dark, sometimes foreboding, and a natural centerpiece to the film, which was shot in North Carolina.

    A magnificent Blu-ray.

    Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2003
    Messages:
    4,524
    Likes Received:
    313
    Location:
    Bolton, Lancashire
    Real Name:
    John
    Mine is winging its way across The Pond; when I think 'painterly' I think Ford and Bert Glennon (or Ford and Winton Hoch). I'm expecting great things...
     
  3. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    2,148
    Likes Received:
    443
    Real Name:
    Ben Hufbauer
    I agree. I like that night really looks like night on this one...
     
  4. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 1998
    Messages:
    5,660
    Likes Received:
    540
    I am extremely pleased with both the cut (version) and presentation of this release. As I posted earlier on the HTF; finally a version (after 18 years) that does justice to the theatrical experience. To be sure there are still differences but this cut is 'close enough' for me and I agree that the image is beautiful.

    - Walter.
     
  5. urbo73

    urbo73 Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 12, 2009
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    The first time I watched it, I wasn't sure what to think. I had not seen it theatrically, so I wasn't sure if the dim light was intentional or not. After thinking some more and reading the above, I'm convinced this is the way Mann wanted it shot. Mann showed Spinotti a couple of paintings for inspiration, and off he went. It's interesting, in that it has that Barry Lyndon "painted" look to it, and it takes place around the same time in the 18th century. Lyndon is still a natural light masterpiece (that I pray comes to Blu-ray one day - the right way), but this is very beautiful too.

    Mann is interesting, in that he's always pushing a vision. He will go for crushed blacks, dim light, blown highlights, intentional noise, etc. to achieve his vision. Sometimes very extreme, and some don't like it. IMHO, Public Enemies (also shot by Spinotti) was a masterpiece in camerawork and pushing the digital boundaries.

    Good stuff!
     
  6. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,276
    Likes Received:
    5,160
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    With negative comments popping up around the web in regard to LotM on Blu, the point should be made that there is nothing
    defective about the release. Those with either lower end viewing environments, or quality hardware that is not properly tuned
    can have problems, as black levels are extremely delicate, which is what makes them beautiful.

    Anyone who has spent time in a forest on a moonless night will relate to the images, which have a palpable translucency to
    them.

    The disc of LotM precisely as the filmmakers intended it to be seen. Scanned from the original negative, with neither noise reduction
    nor de-graining, the only digital manipulation was in a few effects shots which needed a bit of help, as well as interpolation of
    a some missing frames necessary in making the connective tissue of the replaced shots as transparent as possible.

    When an HD master is properly produced, it meets certain standards and parameters. When compressed toward the creation of
    a Blu-ray, those standards and parameters should remain intact. Please keep in mind that while the majority of Blu-rays will run
    perfectly well on low and even mid-range equipment, there are certain releases which raise the stakes and cry out of quality hardware
    and proper tuning of that hardware.

    RAH
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    29,332
    Likes Received:
    4,688
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    RAH,

    As indicated in this review thread most of us are happy with the video presentation of this BRD.





    Crawdaddy
     
  8. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 1997
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    289
    Real Name:
    Cees Alons
    Hear, hear!

    Got mine yesterday (and had to pay customs), but it was worth it (both, the wait and the money ).

    I'm very pleased with this blu-ray version and I'm waiting to add the theatrical cut as well - without any desire to part of this one.


    Cees
     
  9. RickER

    RickER Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2003
    Messages:
    5,130
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Real Name:
    Rick
    The only issue i had with this disc was the audio. It didn't help that I watched it at night, and was trying to keep it a little lower for my sleeping wife. Anyway, I would have to turn it up past my NORMAL listening level during the frequent whispering. Then of course turn it back down before the gun shots would rattle the windows.

    I just like to hear people, in movies whisper at a level that I do not have to turn it up, and then not be blown away when the sound is normal again.

    I had no issue with how dark it was...but I am reminded of the Dracula Blu-ray. Yea, I brought it up!
     
  10. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 1999
    Messages:
    2,243
    Likes Received:
    0
    I didn't feel it like I did when it first came out.

    Sound atmosphere was not the same for me.

    The score is still sublime, and makes the movie.
     
  11. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2001
    Messages:
    5,962
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    The BK
    Real Name:
    ManW
    Took the plunge (before Amazon bumped the price up) and watched it over the weekend. Yes, it was a tad dark, but it does seem like that was by-and-large intentional (and mostly effective IMHO). Most of the darker daytime scenes out in the clearings look like they were in deep overcast or in misty/foggy conditions (very likely shot that way intentionally for artistic reasons). Probably not what most of us are used to seeing, especially in a (relatively) popular movie, but the film definitely has a more artistic photographic look/feel that's actually quite common in still photography, which I do appreciate as an amateur stills photographer.

    Actually, if anything, I thought a few scenes, particularly at the fort, might not be "dark" (or rather contrasty) enough when considering how the rest of the film was done. Those campfire lit scenes look flatter than they probably should on my DLP, but maybe that's partly the fault of the gamma limitations of my DLP setup (even though other scenes did not have that same issue). I'm sure trying to squeeze so much picture detail into such a narrow spectrum will be difficult at best at each part/phase of the shooting/transfer/encode/reproduction/presentation chain, and taken as a whole will likely present a problem for at least some of our display setups. Definitely a big test for any home display setup, assuming the transfer/encode was done right for those scenes.

    To be clear, I could see everything just fine in those campfire lit scenes, but maybe a tad too easily because certain parts of the spectrum might not be dark enough (at least on my setup). Yes, it's probably just a nitpick (which is likely at least partly due to my own setup), but it's one that's at least partially inspired by the artistic look of the rest of the film (for me anyway).

    Anyway, really enjoyed this BD much more so than I remembered the last time I watched (years ago) on DVD, including the "definitive" recut aspects, which definitely lends more poetry to the overall proceedings than I remembered.

    And thanks, RAH, for another high quality "few words" (and pointers on the art) as usual...

    _Man_
     
  12. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2004
    Messages:
    3,527
    Likes Received:
    167
    The blu-ray is too dark.
    I share your appreciation for this masterwork and for the lighting by Dante Spinotti, but the transfer is too dark. I can't explain where or how the light and dark values go wrong, but they do in fact go wrong.
    My Sony Bravia is correctly calibrated and fine-tuned, and it shows the transfer is too dark.
    I saw the film projected many times. Even when it dropped off into darkness, it never looked muddy. You could see detail in the darkness. You could see the foreground faces standing out from the background darkness.
    There are times when the transfer just looks indistinct to me. Indistinct and muddy. It was dark and low-lit in the theater, but not like this. This is different. This transfer has the sharpness and resolution it should have but the darkness robs it of delineation.
    So I'm going to disagree with everybody.
    I love this wonderful film, and the transfer is too dark.
     
  13. Billy Batson

    Billy Batson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Messages:
    2,115
    Likes Received:
    661
    Location:
    London
    Real Name:
    Alan
    I'd have to agree with Richard--W & disagree with Robert Harris. The Blu is too damn dark! If the Blu is correct, then what I saw at the cinema was wrong, the fine looking DVD is wrong. That's the problem with scanning the original neg, you get to have a revisionist view of the film. Ooo, lets make it nice & dark this time. Happily I didn't buy this Blu, I saw it at a friends house. I asked him how his kit was set up & he popped in a couple of other blu's to show it was fine. I'm just too long in the tooth now to be told something is correct when it's so obviously wrong (& that also goes for the green Fellowship Of The Ring).
     
  14. willyTass

    willyTass Second Unit

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    53
    LCD or led backlight LCD are a horrible way to watch movies with lots of black
    See them on a Sony BVM broadcast monitor or a pioneer kuro and you can't go back
     
  15. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    29,332
    Likes Received:
    4,688
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    IMO, I think it was an artistic decision to make this film very dark to reflect the colonial times of America. Can you imagine walking in the woods during those times, when they were mostly untouched by man. I bet you could hardly see any sunlight.
     
  16. Billy Batson

    Billy Batson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Messages:
    2,115
    Likes Received:
    661
    Location:
    London
    Real Name:
    Alan
    Ha, this will run & run. If you find yourself in a thick forrest (& there are a few left in England), you'll be in the shade, but it won't seem that dark, as your brain will adjust (unless it's a very dull day). But as I remember there's not that many shots where they're in thick forrest with no sky visible. But it's a two-way street, they can release what they like, & people can decide whether or not they want to buy it.
     
  17. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 1998
    Messages:
    5,660
    Likes Received:
    540
    The only suggestion I would make to those who find the image too dark is - If you have not done so, try viewing the Blu-ray at night in a low light environment. Personally, I am still quite pleased with this release.
    - Walter.
     
  18. Doug Otte

    Doug Otte Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2003
    Messages:
    744
    Likes Received:
    37
    Agreed. I watched it in a dark room via a plasma, and it looked fine to me. Admittedly, my only point of reference was seeing it at the Uptown in DC during its initial release, and I remember it looking about the same, light-vs-dark-wise.
     
  19. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2004
    Messages:
    3,527
    Likes Received:
    167
    Well, that's how I watched it. In the dark. Then I compared it to the old DVD which is too bright but closer to how it's supposed to look.
    The blu-ray is too dark.
     
  20. Peter Neski

    Peter Neski Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Messages:
    959
    Likes Received:
    32
    Gee this came out a long time ago
     

Share This Page