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

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 23, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Bryan Singer's Valkyrie had just enough negative press during production, that I was prepared to accept the conclusion that it was a problem film.

    It isn't.

    To be precise, there are elements such as actors speaking English for German roles, some with accents, others without, as well as Tom Cruise as disillusioned Nazi officer Claus von Stauffenberg...

    These are elements that have been dealt with in other films in the past, in some cases successfully, and others not. As an example, reference the breakdown of actors in Kubrick's Spartacus, with American talent in the roles of slaves (with the exception of Ms. Simmons, who as I recall was from Germania) vs. English speaking Romans. Here it comes off quite nicely, as well as the transition from German to English language.

    Valkyrie was shot on film in Super 35 for a 1.85:1 extraction, and that also works far better than in the past because of the digital intermediate. While I can fully understand S35 to an anamorphic final image in the photo-chemical world, I've never understood what was gained from the use of that extra tiny bit of negative real estate, only to then put the element through an optical duping process, thereby basically losing whatever may have been gained.

    Here, using the additional area and then going to a DI is understandable, and makes a difference.

    Something else that I loved was the overall look of the DI itself. Sharp, relatively grain free, and with an overriding look of mid-1940s three-strip Technicolor. The use of cyan as a primary for some costumes, against the red of lipstick and flags, and the overall cyan-blue push to some scenes nicely mimicked the look of some prints of the era, with cyan riding just a couple of points on the high side. This is a film where the Nazi uniforms come off beautifully, with all detail finely honed and very apparent.

    Valkyrie is a quality film, as well as a quality Blu-ray. I'm certain that some will find the look problematic, far different than either Pixar animation or the first Season of CSI or True Blood. It also looks nothing like a live HD broadcast of a baseball game.

    Valkyrie is a release worthy of your attention.

    Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    I have never been a fan of Tom Cruise, the actor. This may, contrary to my normal principles, even have to do with some of his obsessive behaviour in private life as well as around the sound stage. I don't know. I also heard he's a friendly guy.

    But I must admit: I can hardly, if at all, mention a bad part of his, and even almost all films he has been in, have been interesting to watch.

    Furthermore, as someone who was born during WWII, I have stopped liking films about that era. This may also be influenced by certain parties who's interest in that period I now distrust.

    But I decided to order this Blue-ray movie. I'm happy to read about the interesting PQ, especially the choice of the digital intermediate in this case and the way it was used.

    (The accent thingie doesn't bother me very much. I've heard so many characters supposed to be French, German, even Dutch, being played by English-speaking actors, German characters with a voice apparently of someone who's first language had been English or Dutch or quite something else, English actors and actresses doing an American accent that's just not totally convincing, indeed so many times that I have programmed myself to let the intention overrule the occasional disbelieve.
    I fully trust it's palatable here.)

    Thanks, Robert, you helped me decide.


    Cees
     
  3. john a hunter

    john a hunter Supporting Actor

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    Robert,there is a pointed line in "Spartacus" where Ms Simmons states she comes from Britannia not Germania! No doubt included for obvious reasons.
     
  4. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    The movie is fun popcorn but if you're wanting a history lesson then it's best to look somewhere else. The accent thing didn't bug me too much but I did think hearing Hitler speak in English was a major problem.
     
  5. Jeff Robertson

    Jeff Robertson Second Unit

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    Another movie where actors and accents didn't bother me: The Hunt For Red October.

    One where it did: K-19: The Widowmaker.

    Interesting that they're both submarine movies.
     
  6. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Cinematographer

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    I'm a military historian, and outside of the obvious accent thing (which I am willing to *always* ignore), I didn't have any real problem with the movie. Sure, some historial license was taken in various areas (such as the extent to which they had control over the city), but overall I would give the accuracy a solid score.

    Peter Hoffman (Peter Hoffmann) a historian at McGill University, here in Canada, served as a chief advisor for the movie, and is perhaps the best scholar on the resistance.

    I thought that the performances were great all around, especially by Cruise (of whom I am a big fan, despite his many detractors) and Nighy, and that the pacing was quite effective. Plus, I found the picture quality to be quite excellent, with a surprising amount of detail and depth in many shots.

    I can see myself watching this one again--I'm glad I purchased it (though the price could have been a few dollars less).
     
  7. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I should have said that I don't know anything about the real history of the events and my comments were coming from watching the second half of THC documentary, which I believe is included on the disc (or the SD).
     
  8. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    You've just made this a must-have for me (despite my reticence about Tom Cruise). I studied under Peter Hoffman at McGill and did my graduate work (at Concordia down the street) on the significance of historical feature films as paedagogical tools at the undergraduate level. My interests would have made this film a must-see. Hoffman's association with it makes it a must-have.
     
  9. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    I do hope they also used German sources.

    About this affair a lot is known and it is very well documented.
    I remember seeing several documentaries in the past and at least one TV miniseries, but that must have been more than twenty years ago.

    We may hope it is not "Hollywoodized" too much.


    Cees
     
  10. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Looking at IMDB there seems to be people listing "errors" or "goofs" but since this is history a different source is going to tell a different story. Apparently Hitler's plane in the film isn't the type he used but this is understandable since the original planes don't exist anymore. I think in that documentary there was a German source who said Cruise's character in real life did a lot more than he's ever gotten credit for.

    The IMDB lists these other versions:

    Es geschah am 20. Juli (1955)
    Der 20. Juli (1955)
    The Plot to Kill Hitler (1990) (TV)
    Stauffenberg (2004) (TV)
    Die Stunde der Offiziere (2004) (TV)

    It would be interesting watching all of them together to see how different they are in telling the story.
     
  11. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Peter Hoffman is German (his accent was a bit of a challenge for some of his students during lectures) and he made even undergrads work with original German language sources (a German-English dictionary of some heft was an essential tool for his classes), so I think that aspect was addressed. Knowing Hoffman, even if he is the only advisor listed in the credits (I don't know, I haven't seen it yet), he would certainly have referenced a wide spectrum of sources (lord knows he made us do it enough).
     
  12. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Cinematographer

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    I agree with Paul--it's safe to assume in this case that proper sources were called upon in researching the film. Of course, one has to account for a certain artistic license ("oh that aircraft may be historically accurate, but it's far too big for the frame. Let's use something smaller.") and I'm completely alright with that. I never studied under Hoffman myself, as I was out west at Calgary, but one of my Professors, Holger Herwig, referred to Hoffman's work as "rock solid," which, if you know Professor Herwig, is very high praise [​IMG]

    I'll also note that Hoffman never accepted payment for his work on the movie, and was thus "unofficial." The reason behind this, according to Hoffman, is that it allowed him to give honest feedback and suggestions, and not feel beholden to approve things that were wrong.

    Anyway, I thought the movie was terrific. I think a mark of a great historic film is its ability to elevate your heart rate during tense scenes, even though you know what is going to happen.
     
  13. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    That sounds very much like the professor I remember. Well, as soon as I get a chance, I'm going to get my hands on this. However, at the moment I'm swamped in westerns (I'm teaching a class on "The Wild West" this summer--and it includes an examination of movies).
     
  14. ScottJH

    ScottJH Supporting Actor

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    Paul,

    Thought you might be interested that Hoffman participates in “The Valkyrie Legacy” documentary.
     
  15. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    I'm very much interested. Thanks for the heads up.
     
  16. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I am of two minds about this film. It looks great, the story is suspenseful and interesting. I just think it might have been better if it were not quite so blatantly a Tom Cruise Vehicle.

    Don't get me wrong, the man can act. His personal life is of no concern to me. It's just that like some other stars he seems to overawe his directors to the extent that his often superb supporting cast is underutilized.



    So many of the secondary characters in this film are played by actors who were better used in films like Downfall, Conspiracy, and Black Book-smaller films for sure than Valkyrie, but more effective for not being Star Vehicles.

    Perhaps this is unfair criticism since I have no doubt that without Cruise's participation this important story would never have had the budget and distribution to reach as large an audience as it did.

    The fact that so many Germans did not buy wholeheartedly into the Nazi madness is not often explored on screen.
     
  17. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    I rented this last week and like it enough that I'll eventually add it to my collection. It is a solid thriller about an interesting historical event. In my mind, there is no doubt that Valkyrie suffered from Cruise backlash and some questionable buzz.

    I thought the transfer was great. I just sampled the special features and thought they were pretty good, but I want to go spend more time with them. I appreciate this thread's discussion and background regarding the historical accuracy of the film.
     

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