A Few Words About A few words about...™ West Side Story -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. jaaguir

    jaaguir Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm sorry to go against the grain here. I don't consider myself a brute or anything, and I certainly wish movies were preserved as they should be, and not with subpar sound mixes, uncorrected opticals and invented fade-to-blacks.
    I just think a re-call from MGM is highly unlikely. I'm worried about how much the opticals will bother me when watching the movie, but otherwise I think the good outweighs the bad. If you just want to own the movie in high-def with excellent compression and high bitrate (not from some hd tv-channel)... I think not buying this is nuts (especially at a good price).
    People here seem to be cancelling pre-orders en masse, but most consumers out there will never even hear about these issues, only people who read boards like this one. They will buy this and probably be very happy with it. I just don't see the point of not buying this unless a re-call was certain. Do you want to continue "enjoying" the dvd forever? I don't get it. Just my two cents.
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Again, it's a personal decision and I try to leave such decisions to the individual.








    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I received an interesting message from someone asking a very good question.

    A dissolve that been inadvertently turned into a fade out / fade in...

    Some dupes that show the ravages of time...

    A bit of audio that might possibly be more accurate slightly further to the rear.

    What does it all mean in the scheme of things.

    Their final point was that we're not talking about the Mona Lisa.

    My answer is that we're very much discussing the Mona Lisa, albeit a more modern version. West Side Story was the synthesis of an astoundingly good Broadway musical that was honed, by the best in the business into one of the greatest films ever created.

    West Side Story, especially when viewed in its native 70mm is a work of astounding quality.

    Even a cursory glance at the majority of the footage in this Blu-ray will prove that out, as this is a Blu-ray that aside from its problems, shines.

    Everyone in the production was pushed beyond their limits toward the creation of a piece of art that has stood the test of time.
    If viewers don't have a tear in their eye at the finale, they probably aren't human.

    Everything about the film was performed at the highest level, and the final prints, as struck from the rolls of original camera negative in September and October of 1961, were perfect in every regard. They were checked after printing, and then again after striping and sounding. Someone watched every reel of every print.

    Theatres were set up and checked to make certain that everything would play according to plan.

    There are certain films that are a part of our collective history. Most people can probably rattle off the titles of a hundred or more, and some can repeat sections of dialogue.

    The truly great films are our Sistine Chapel.

    They were created by the giants of their era, and are the art of the 20th, and now the 21st centuries.

    Both the films and their creators deserve to treated with the respect they would have received on set and at premieres. This includes, even more importantly, those who are no longer with us. Unless untoward things have happened to the original elements, and images and audio can no longer be brought up to perfect quality, these films should be released perfect in every regard.

    Bringing the Blu-ray of West Side Story up to perfection is not an unattainable act. It would not take an obscene budget.

    There are so many people that will see West Side Story on Blu-ray for the first time, and others for which it will be the only way it will be seen, that one owes it to the filmmakers to see that their work is properly preserved, restored if necessary, and released in the absolute highest quality, transparent to the original.

    Anything less is unthinkable.

    RAH
     
    Cinéaste likes this.
  4. Phoebus

    Phoebus Stunt Coordinator

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    I like the idea of a "running fix" via Fox.
    Hope there'll be a UK address for my side of the pond to return their discs to.
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Javier,

    I believe I've stated this before. The point of viewing something on Blu-ray is to enable the home theater fan to see something as closely to the way it looked in theatres as possible. The Blu-ray format allows that.

    Whether someone reads the boards or not, they are turning over their hard-earned money in exchange for a Blu-ray disc that one must perceive will be perfect.

    If that individual sees Mr. Bass' work in a manner not as intended, or Mr. Dunn's opticals without their full resolution, and with poor color, it reflects on the work, and memories of these artists.

    I'm not suggesting that anyone cancel orders for this release, I'm simply suggesting that MGM step up to the plate and correct errors.

    The final image that is viewed on screen affects everything about a film, inclusive of performances. When one takes something as dazzling beautiful as West Side Story, and the majority of this Blu-ray is dazzlingly beautiful, and then an image cuts to something fifth generation, there is an immediate reaction from the viewer, whether they rationalize it or not.

    I don't believe that anyone is suggesting that there is a decision to be made that if one does not purchase this Blu-ray, that they'll forever be viewing a DVD.

    MGM is a good organization. Whatever plan they put into place, I would presume, would involve replacement of discs for whomever purchases the discs now, and wishes it.

    On the other hand, should people be viewing something in a way not approved by its makers until replacement discs are available.

    Not my decision.

    BTW, there is nothing wrong with "going against the grain."

    RAH
     
  6. Guest

    People need to let them know about ALL of the problems, including the dupes. Does anyone have a contact there that they can personally speak to? Trying to get customer service to take it to the next level can be difficult and trying.
     
  7. John Skoda

    John Skoda Stunt Coordinator

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    I watched the first hour of the blu-ray last night, and the changed sound of the music is what I noticed right away. It sounds to me, at least during the overture and opening sequences, that they've added a bit of reverb to the music, giving it a bit more of a symphony-hall sound. The original dry but full, in-your-face sound I've always heard before seems more appropriate to this score. I thought maybe this change was because I've never heard the recently rediscovered 70mm 6-track mix, but from what I understand, they didn't even end up using that track for the blu-ray.
    It's a subtle thing, and it's a change that didn't bother me after I got used to it, but I really wish the goal was to reproduce exactly what the original presentation was like, not making any subjective "improvements."
     
  8. marsnkc

    marsnkc Supporting Actor

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    Great to see you here, Bruce. Until the gold reserves are beefed up, I've had to put your movie on my wish list following RAH's and Leo Kerr's positive reviews.
     
  9. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    It seems a lot of work and different box editions have gone into MGM / FOX release of West Side Story, and yet Fiddler on the Roof was released with very little fanfare... that presentation was handled well enought wasn't it? Sad that a release that has been built up is kind of leaving everyone scratching their heads.
     
  10. kagemusha98

    kagemusha98 Second Unit

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    The right and honorable thing to do here is recall the disc....fix the problem...and then release it. Does MGM want to dupe the public? Assume no one will care? I ordered 5 ( Christmas present)....All cancelled now until it is fixed. Yes lets buy the "Mona Lisa" with a part of her smile missing!
     
  11. GMpasqua

    GMpasqua Screenwriter

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    Why don't the studios issue the Discs to the reviewers before they are pressed??? - that way they are getting the best (and free) quality control.

    So much Quality control today is some under paid kid (20 - 30) waching a 50 year old film he never saw and knows little about. A film like "West Side Story" Should be given to Robert Harris for quality control - then these mistakes could be caught before it's too late
     
  12. marsnkc

    marsnkc Supporting Actor

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    Oh no...!!! The music, especially the overture, is mostly aggressive, in keeping with the subject matter. You're right when you say it should be 'in your face'. It should attack.
    After someone on another thread complained about the tempered soundtrack on the DVD edition of a movie that had been better served by its VHS HiFi iteration, I mentioned my bitter disappointment with the DVD and HD versions of U2's Rattle and Hum. The huge eruption in surround from the stadium at the beginning got the life compressed out of it on the discs, making me wish I'd held onto the tape. I'm all for the widest dynamic range possible, but some things just need to be loud! Turning up the volume, strange to say, didn't compensate for the lack of 'oomph.'
    Is there any chance that your speaker system or environment may have changed since you last saw WSS? I'm hoping this is the case.
    (The story, as everyone knows, is essentially Will's R&J, but at least a fraction of the score was inspired by Beethoven. The first five notes of 'Somewhere' were lifted directly from the second movement of Ludwig Van's Fifth Piano Concerto, a thing of beauty and a joy forever).
     
  13. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    OH NO!!! ...indeed.

    Dry, crisp, clean, closely miked, in your face, every eighth and sixteenth note clear and crisp. That's always been a major contributing factor in the impact this film delivers.

    In fact, that's my #1 complaint about many re-recordings of film scores, going all the way back to Bernard Herrmann's early re-recordings -- they've got the wrong ambience. The resulting impact, however good the playing and conducting may be, is either compromised or lost entirely.
     
  14. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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    Wow, this definitely doesn't sound good. A recall or replacement would be greatly appreciated, especially if they are also giving it premium "big box" treatment. That boxset almost seems like a hollow gesture, with the film itself seemingly getting far less care.
    I'll be putting off my purchase for now.
     
  15. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    At Blu-ray.com this was posted:

    "Fox source as saying the distributor "will not recall the title. It will instead implement what's being called a 'running fix.' This means that if anyone wants to send their West Side Story Blu-ray back, Fox Home Video will accept it and send them a corrected disc down the road."
    Wells' source then adds "[Fox is] looking to fix the issue on future discs."


    http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=7619
     
  16. John Morgan

    John Morgan Supporting Actor

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    I wish MGM and Fox would do a "running fix" for MAD WORLD and space the Overture and Main Title a bit more and add the Entr'acte music.
    I still have WEST SIDE STORY preordered, but will probably get it and send it in for the fix. Sometimes, the package doesn't change and it is guess work on what one gets.
     
  17. GMpasqua

    GMpasqua Screenwriter

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    In the world of Blu-ray being first to get a disc usually means getting a defective disc, only after a year or so is the good version made available - and at a lower price

    by the way...what is FOX doing about the abysmal transfer of "The Greatest Story Ever Told" Bl-ray disc. When is a replacment disc going to be made available?
     
  18. Paul Rossen

    Paul Rossen Supporting Actor

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    Forum members are usually very good about communicating any changes to UPC codes on the covers and/or discs themselves...
     
  19. in2video2

    in2video2 Auditioning

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    Like many of us here I was very much looking forward the Blu-Ray release of the recently restored West Side Story. Reluctantly, I am now inclined to wait and see how things play out. I still have faith that Fox will follow through and restore this brilliant United Artists/MGM film to its original glory. Now, hopefully, those in charge will respect the original work of art they are bringing back to new life. Blu-Ray may be the very last chance to get it right.
     
  20. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Well, this is very disappointing. Thank you for the heads up on this one, Mr. Harris. I have cancelled my Amazon pre-order and will wait until this gets sorted out. Damn! I was really looking forward to this release.
     

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