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Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Todd Erwin, Feb 17, 2010.
This film remains one of my all-time favorites.
I had to tag this review with Amazon and was rather
astonished to read so many negative reviews there
about the video quality of this Blu-ray. On the other
hand, it seems that the reviews I have read on this
and at least two other forums rate it very well.
Think I will be picking this up.
Many people have been very critical of this release on the various message boards. It seems to stem from three issues: 1) the HD master being used was created for the HD-DVD some 3-4 years ago, 2) the film elements being in somewhat poor shape for a film of its vintage, and 3) the perception that Criterion would have done it better.
There are some online calling it a SD upscale and "not HD", which is patently false.
I have had this issue for a month or two and have yet to screen it completely. However from what I have seen it is a good but not excellent transfer. The main problem is a lack of resolution in the long shots which can give BD that " 3D pop" . However much better than the DVD and as the reviewer states, probably the best it has looked for a long time.
I think most people expect every "classic" catalog title to look like North By Northwest or Dr. Strangelove.
Also, the film stocks used in the late 70 to mid 80s have proven, over the years, to be somewhat unstable.
Not every studio has the money like Sony or Warner to completely restore a film, and even then, Sony and Warner hand pick which films get a full restoration and which ones only a partial.
The online negativity towards this title seems to stem more from StudioCanal snatching the title away from Criterion than the audio/video quality of the disc itself.
it is awful because it is an upscale. i have the Criterion DVD as well. i play the BD on my Panasonic BD60 and i play the DVD on my oppo 980H.
when i swap between both, you can tell the BD is NOT high-res. look at the kimono clothing textures and blades of grass. it's clear they utilized the same prints for either TV broadcast and other mediums that have been been restored specifically for Blu-Ray. it's truly one of the most disappointing and worst looking BDs i have in my collection. i'm a HUGE AK fan too ='(. so sad.
With this BD, what you see is what you get: I just saw the film projected late last year in a theatre and this BD looks like it was based on that print, not a scan of the Oneg. Home video companies, Criterion included, tend to polish the films licensed to them into something that the films never looked like when originally released in the theatre. That is what this BD looks like. It has far more resolution (detail and color spectrum) than the Criterion release, but could have been a much better release. Yes, it is unfortunate, but it does look like a print of the film were you to see it projected in the theatre. Film grain is wildly apparent and it is contrasty. Also, the end title music is different from the Criterion; it plays out early, with a few drum beats (just like the print I saw last year), and finishes in utter silence. Criterion's print, or whatever they used, has the main Mahleresque theme play out through the end of the credits, which is how it is on the complete soundtrack cd from Japan.
Anyway, we seem to be remembering RAN as a glowing pastorale symphony spotted with bright Easter egg colors when in actuality it is a grainy, gritty rough film shot on 35mm negative. That is what we see with this Studio Canal/Lionsgate release on BD. Yes, it could have been better, but damn this movie still holds up even in a warts and all release like this.
Studio Canal also owns my favorite film, The Lion in Winter; perhaps I won't be so forgiving when they do a shoddy release on BD of that.
I don't think that the blu looks all that bad, either. It's certainly better than any DVD edition, including the Criterion disc, but it's probably not as good as it could have been.
Given that it shares the same director, two of the same cinematographers and was made around the same time, there's no reason to think it couldn't have looked as good as Kagemusha.
last night at 7:30pm i had the pleasure of attending a local arthouse screening of Ran struck from a new 35mm print! =D afterwards, i immediately 'ran' home and started to compare the 35mm film print vs. my Studio Canal Blu-Ray and Criterion DVD on my 100" front projector.
i apologize and rescind my original statement that Ran Studio Canal release is an upscale. turns out, that's as best as the film will look!
having said that... the film source owners can't find a BETTER copy ANYWHERE ELSE in the world? i mean it's 'only' been 25 years. the blades of grass are so blurry even in the theatrical release!
I just saw the film projected again, too, and it really looks awful. The blu ray is an upscale from the Criterion disc, which apparently over-polished whatever master they were dealing with. None of these releases are struck from the original negative, none of them. Even the print I saw looked dupy; the film grain and occasional dirt and dust were perfectly sharp, but the image was soft, lacking in all detail. Sometimes one couldn't even see faces in longer shots.
Anyway, Studio Canal apparently owns the original negs and are too stupid to release them for proper restoration and scanning. A pity that they carry the original elements to so many great films.
i wouldn't say BD is an 'upscale'.
think about it: garbage in, garbage out. so if the film source is bad... (as you and i have seen the film projected) there is no way either BD or DVD is going to make it look any better than original limitations of PQ!
so unless SC finds NEW versions/prints of Ran that is unbelievable... we'll be stuck w/these versions for a long time.
No I think the prints being used are bad. They need to scan the O-neg for this, if it is any condition to be scanned. It looks to me like a print is used, since it's so "thick" looking with little detail. Always, always, always go off of the original negative, if possible.
hopefully in the future... but i'm guessing it's gonna be somn like 5-10 years before anything of that sort will happen
Yeah, now that it has been released on BD, it is very unlikely they'll dip back into it. Pity.
This movie had regularly looked poor on home video - I won't mention the VHS version but anyone remember that Fox Lorber thing inflicted on the public back in 1998/99 ? And the Wellspring "clean-up" in 2003/4 ? Hoo-boy !!! The subsequent Criterion didn't look great (they seemd to be into sharpening up the image on those Kurosawa color movies). The French DVD release was acceptable for DVD but now we seem to have raggedy HD versions foisted on us. Still, Gangs of New York was re-mastered within about 18 months and it sounds as though Gladiator is being fixed only six months after the initial Blu-Ray - so with all the previous Ran DVD versions out there, we have room for another go at a Blu-Ray release !
Give it to Warners MPI, they can fix anything!
we do, but unfortunately there's no 'profit' in it. this probably already sold very poorly. how can a business (remember this is all about making$) make the investment of $ and effort/time/etc. to locate a better print if there is no profit to be had =P.
it really really throws into question whether Criterion can truly 'fix' this. the big issue is at source level!
Thanks for the review of 'Ran'.
Since you are the Lionsgate reviewer, are you planning to review 'Jade'?
There's no single Lionsgate reviewer. If they send Jade, it's supposed to come to me.
So how is this for EE? The screenshots that I have seen make it look like it is shot though with EE. I'd like to pick this up, but I don't want to pay 40 bucks (including taxes) so that I can be distracted from the film by haloing around every edge.