Kino Press Release: Birth of a Nation (1915) and Way Down East (1920) (Blu-ray)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Kino Classics proudly announces the Blu-ray releases of

    two landmark D.W. Griffith masterpieces,
    The Birth of a Nation
    (1915) and Way Down East (1920)



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    The Birth of a Nation -(Blu-ray and DVD)







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    Way Down East (Blu-ray only)

















    New York, NY - November 8, 2011 - Kino Classics is proud to release two landmark American films from master filmmaker D.W. Griffith, now presented in brand-new HD transfers: The Birth of a Nation (1915), frequently cited among the most important (and controversial) films of all time, and Way Down East (1920), a pastoral classic of Americana that fuses Griffith's affinity for Victorian melodrama with masterful cinematic technique.



    Set to become available on Blu-ray and DVD on November 22nd, both of these newly transferred releases represent some of the most significant achievements in the career of D. W. Grffith, a man who almost single-handedly created today's cinematic conventions and helped transform a five-cent attraction into an exciting new art form.



    [​IMG]The Birth of a Nation comes to Blu-ray and DVD in a deluxe three-disc edition, with the Blu-ray priced at $39.95, and the DVD at $29.95. Way Down East is available only on Blu-ray, with a SRP of $34.95. Both films have been newly remastered in HD from 35mm archival prints.



    On disc one, Kino's new The Birth of a Nation features the film with a score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra; the new score was recorded in 2011 and is here presented in both Dolby 2.0 stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.



    Disc one also includes an introduction to the film, featuring actor Walter Huston and D.W. Griffith discussing the depiction of historical events in the film. This spoken introduction (which was filmed for the 1930 re-issue of the film) also includes the newly-rediscovered intermission sequence from the 1930 re-issue.



    Disc two (on standard DVD, both in the Blu-ray and DVD packages) features the 1993 restoration of The Birth of a Nation, restored by David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates. This edition features an orchestral score adapted in 1993 from the original score by Joseph Carl Breil, presented here in 2.0 stereo. Also included is The Making of The Birth of a Nation, a 24-minute documentary produced by David Shepard, featuring screen tests from the film.



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    Disc three (also only on standard DVD, both in the Blu-ray and DVD sets) contains seven Civil War-themed short films directed by D.W. Griffith from his time at the Biograph Studio. These films show Griffith working with similar historical subject matter, and demonstrate his masterful handling of the subject of war.



    Also included is New York vs. The Birth of a Nation, a collection of archival documents pertaining to the censorship battles over the film's 1922 re-release. Disc three is topped off with an excerpt from the film's original souvenir program books, distributed at the premiere of the film in 1915.




    The original release of The Birth of a Nation energized the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which tried to have the film banned, or at least its most gruesome scenes cut from the film. The film's vicious and highly problematic portrayal of African Americans has caused great controversy, while also inspiring African Americans to move into filmmaking as a way to offer a more just and historically accurate portrayal of their experiences. But even to this day, to look atThe Birth of Nation is to see a moment in American history where racial equality and justice were still a far-away dream.



    Way Down East arrives on Blu-ray mastered in HD from the Museum of Modern Art's 35mm restoration, which restores the original color tints. This presentation features a score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, presented here in 2.0 stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound.



    Bonus features include a gallery of images from the original souvenir program book; notes and excerpts from the original stage play, written by Lottie Blair Parker in 1898; photos of William Brady's 1903 stage production of Way Down East; and a film clip of the "ice floe" sequence from the Edison Company's 1903 production of Uncle Tom's Cabin , which served as an inspiration for Griffith's handling of the famous chase across the ice floes in Way Down East.






    The Birth of a Nation



    (Deluxe 3-Disc Edition)

    1915 / Color Tinted / 192 Min.

    1920 x 1080p



    Way Down East

    1920 / Color Tinted / 149 Min.

    1920 x 1080p
     
  2. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    Does anyone know if the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra scores are re-recordings of the original scores, or new creations? Or if it matters? Some of these silents had specific scores to be played I think?
     
  3. RodneySauer

    RodneySauer Auditioning

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    Mont Alto did not record the "Original Road Show" score for either film. The scores are compiled from historical music libraries that were available to orchestras at the time, so they're scores that "could have been heard" in the silent era. Note that The Birth of a Nation includes a second (non-Blu-Ray) disc that has a recreation of the original J.C. Breil score played by another ensemble, so that is still available. There's an older release of Way Down East with a historic compiled score that I think came from a late 1920s re-release, but that's a little harder to find (don't bother with Netflix, you'll get a horrible low-budget release that cycles about four organ chords over and over for several hours). While the original scores are interesting and historically significant, Mont Alto specializes in new score compilations from old music, and we wanted to give each film a fresh approach. Interestingly, both of these films were revived in the 1920s, and they were given new scores at that time too, as the musicians of the mid 1920s felt that the original scores were somewhat dated and repetitive by then. Go figure. Mont Alto is proud of these "new" historic scores, and if you're curious, you can listen to excerpts at our web site, www.mont-alto.com. The Way Down East excerpts are on our "Recordings" page, the Birth of a Nation excerpts are on the home page. I'll get them moved over to the Recordings page when the discs are available.
     
  4. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    Thanks for the heads up Rodney, it's really appreciated. Sometimes silent films get modern sounding scores that never quite work for me. If period music was used, these should be pretty great.

    I remember on that Hollywood: The Silent Films doc (I got that name wrong, I know it) that David Sheppard did a person on there talks about seeing the premier of Birth Of A Nation and being blasted into his seat by an 80 piece orchestra, that there was nothing "silent" about the presentation ha ha. I wont and don't expect that on a new scoring, but I do plan on cranking the 5.1 on this release when I get it. (Like I did on the complete Metropolis blu-ray!)
     
  5. RodneySauer

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    Thanks. The Mont Alto Orchestra is only a five piece orchestra, but we sound pretty big due to the clever orchestration techniques the arrangers had for these pieces. That plus your sound system should make us sound just fine.
     
  6. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I'm looking forward to both - I pre-ordered on day one. Great to hear more Mont Alto scores. Regardless of the method - synth, orchestral, or keyboard, a great music score adds a lot to a film. A bad score will ruin even the best films. Any hope for your participation on Intolerance? The DVD looks fantastic, but the score doesn't work at all.
     

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