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Discussion in 'DVD' started by oscar_merkx, Jul 29, 2003.
that is absolutely cool
Really great looking!!!
speaking of the show, i've been fortunate to have the opportunity to see the live show in san francisco orpheum theater last saturday. suffice to say the performance was just magnificent. very dramatic and powerful. brad little and christine daaé did a fabulous job.
does anyone know what frame rate is being used?
i wonder, since it doesn't appear that a major resotration has been performed, how it will compare to Kinos Metropolis?
Bring on more Chaney!!
Yep, yep, yep, very cool. I hope deepdiscountdvd.com gets this. As of yet they don't have it up for preorder.
Paul -- to my understanding, Kevin Brownlow is an advocate, in certain restorations, of multiple frame rates, depending on the demands (tone, mood, etc.) of each scene/sequence. I believe someone at Milestone mentioned a number of months ago that Brownlow's restoration of the 1929 reissue of Phantom was such an animal.
Now, I have no information as to whether or not vintage showings might have found the occasional projectionist (or projection cue sheet) who would do something similar to best serve the material, but I'd imagine most projectionists would crank their cameras at a constant rate. So there remains some debate about the policy. I find it not only acceptable, but preferable, to examine the mood and ambiance of a sequence, the surviving information about filmmaker intent, and make slight alterations to speed accordingly. Given that projectionists of the day would project within a "range" that hopefully matched up as closely as possible to the "preferred" frame rate prescribed by the studio (I don't know if such cues accompanied all silent features, but I've read that they accompanied at least some, and I'd imagine most major releases, and certainly major rereleases and/or road shows, would have such cues), but that the projection rate could still vary quite a bit from theatre to theatre, I don't see anything wrong at all with taking what amounts to a "best of" sampling of these rates for the show on DVD. Someone who knows more about vintage silent projection might be able to comment further, but if even a few of the most attentive projectionists did, in fact, alter their project rates as scenes demanded (or if projection cue sheets ever recommended the same), then multiple rates for home video isn't only a good aesthetic choice in certain instances, but a good choice for historical fidelity, as well.
At any rate -- the reissue version should have multiple frame rates (minor alterations from scene to scene), but I don't know what Milestone has decided about the silent 1925 version, which Brownlow did not restore.
I hope studios, as they look over these specialty company releases, take note of the care restorers have put into accurate frame rates and projection framing. Nothing spoils a good silent like overmatting ("off with his head!" in the most extreme cases) or the needless "sound" cranking that makes characters dash about like hyperactive children. Many comedies use intentional undercranking for effect, so that characters are meant to move abnormally fast (during chases, etc.), but a very natural human motion was captured from the very beginning of silent cinema for the purposes of drama, romance (I've just rewatched The Last Days of Pompeii, which has beautifully natural motion throughout), and indeed for the calmer sequences of comedies and/or the entirety of situational or non-slapstick comedies, and anyone who thinks the art of the silent is the "art" of artificial or "primitive" motion is overlooking a very important part of the beauty of the cinema of this time.
Some home video product is limited by the desire to include a beloved orchestral score (say, something put to film in the 60's or 70's) that was, unfortunately, cued to a sound speed presentation, and the decision is made to keep the film at sound so as to include this score. I dislike this policy, and rarely buy such films. In other instances, a film made in the late sound period survives with a synchronized score that dates to its original release, and though it may look a touch fast (some of these synchronized scores were married to films by studios after the picture was made and without filmmaker involvement, while others were properly allowed for during production), this is correct to how patrons saw the film at the time, and I'm less concerned over it. But the fact remains: a careful, artistically informed transfer of a silent must look very carefully at ideal frame rates and how the frame rate affects the impact of a scene (the language of film, in other words, and not simply the written records kept by a studio or, heaven forfend, the preferences or market needs of any particular collector/preservationist forty years later -- cough, Paul Killiam*, cough ), and while sound speed projection became more and more commonplace as the 20's progressed, I don't believe, personally, that there's a single year of major silent releases in which every feature film released, even in the U.S. alone, could be truly said to play ideally -- and most truly to filmmaker intent -- at 24 fps.
The release of a Brownlow restoration (there are others on his restoration teams whom I don't mean to minimalize, but Brownlow is the name for which I always look) is invariably a cause for celebration, and the above is only one reason. If anyone has his restoration of The Chess Player yet (released yesterday by Milestone), please post a few comments -- I'd love to know how the disc turned out. September 9th approaches none too quickly ....
* Whose work in preservation and presentation remains laudable, of course, and to whom we all owe our gratitude: www.cinemaweb.com/silentfilm/97_1_mon.htm+%22Paul+Killiam%22+%2B+about&hl=en&ie=UTF-8]Paul Killiam[/url] ... but the fact remains that too many of his prints run at sound! It's called The Son of the Sheik, man, not the The Son of the Streak! Yes, I exagerate a bit, but the point itself is true. When scores made for sound projection are discarded, of course, surviving elements can be retransfered at whatever speed is deemed best. If only The Son of the Sheik survived in film elements of a visual quality similar to the clip used in a period newsreel on Image's The Sheik/The Son of the Sheik ....
once again Bill what an informative post about silent films
keep these posts coming
it seems to be getting rarer that someone repsonds on a forum like this to a question with that detailed, thoughtful, and informative of a post.
very much appreciated.
i'll be looking forward to picking this one up.
my appreciation of silents runs in spurts, so while i remember Killiams name from collecting some of the Voyager laserdiscs, i'm not as familiar with Brownlows name.
because of that affiliation with Voyager(and by relation, Criterion) i had assumed Killiam was the gold standard for silents.
i don't even remember the frame rates on Beloved Rouge or It.
speaking of which, does anyone know of any plans for a dvd release of Beloved Rouge?
The Photoplay restoration required the multiple frame rates mainly because of the mix of footage from both versions.
The 1925 version likely can be run at one speed.
It was a comment I found a very long time ago (months), and I just can't seem to locate it again, but I believe it was Dennis Doros of Milestone who characterized the multiple frame rates of this restoration as an aesthetic choice ... his words were something along the lines of "The Photoplay restoration of The Phantom of the Opera uses multiple projection speeds, which as we all know is something Kevin Brownlow likes to do." That's very rough, but essentially what was said -- "we all" certainly didn't include me, as I've never seen a Brownlow restoration theatrically, but I assumed Dennis would know! So far as I can find (and this is third hand at best), one sequence of the restoration uses a blow up from the 16mm silent version, but Brownlow himself said (again in comments I can no longer locate -- sorry) that the decision to restore the reissue, rather than the original, was due to the good 35mm materials that could be located for the reissue, materials which included the two-strip Masque Ball sequence, provided to Brownlow by David Shepard, who used this material in his own Image edition (I seem to recall Shepard saying something about Brownlow further tweaking and restoring this sequence). I believe most of the reissue was located in acceptable 35mm form, whereas the 1925 original exists in 16mm form (alt.movies.silent archives referenced through Google reveal some talk of another copy surfacing overseas, 35mm but of strictly mediocre visual quality, and containing a portion of film not found in the primary 16mm version). Word on the street is that at least one other portion of the reissue will now contain original color of some kind, and careful tinting should be found throughout.
Dennis was also the original source for what I characterized as a frame rate gauged against the "moods and demands" of individual sequences. I wish I could find his comments again -- they may be archived somewhere.
We'll know with greater certainty on September 9th, but I hope the commentary and/or liner notes extensively discuss the restoration itself, and not just the film. I imagine Photoplay will receive its proper kudos.
Oscar and Paul -- your very generous comments are much appreciated. I always try to muddle through these pieces of knowledge picked up over the years for my own edification and satisfaction, and of course to advocate as a consumer the best possible treatment for any film of quality (preservation/restoration/presentation), and if anything I can regurgitate here is of use -- well, I'm thrilled. Thanks again, guys.
When folks of Brownlow's care and precision put serious money and time behind bringing a nearly lost film back to something closely approaching its original beauty, they've restored to us a part of our civilization's soul, which is so deeply comprised of art. We gain an entertainment, but we also gain an indispensable piece of the human puzzle. Restoring films, paintings, sculpture ... we restore both the history of our world and the history of our humanity, and that enriches the potential of our future immeasurably. I felt like a child the first time I saw the Sistine Chapel in person, and the statue of David, and the (finished) Pieta and Moses (all Michaelangelo), and Rembrandt's Night Watch (well, I was fourteen when I saw all of these, but I felt five! ), and so many other great works of various disciplines (my first Mozart concert! In Salzburg! My goodness ... the first time I read Frankenstein, or Wuthering Heights ... such things can change lives), and a great film moves me in the same way to this day. It's something I always try to approach with humility and yet also advocacy, because it overwhelms me and, at the same time, ennobles and energizes me. The art wrought from the great creative minds of human history is an amazing treasury, a testament to our potential, and to all who continue to make that treasury sparkle and shine and then set it out before new generations, that they too might take from it an energy and vitality that can be found nowhere else, that their futures might enjoy the robust foundation that treasure provides ... my thanks, and my admiration. Art preservationists, restorers, and historians are the curators of civilization's soul, and film of course remains that most extraordinary of modern age artistic disciplines, now thankfully finding its way into the hands of those who bring to it the care and love other arts have so rightly enjoyed before it.*
* My heart now jumps from my sleeve back into my chest. I could bore the Phantom right out of the Opera, given half a chance, I'm sure. But hey, when a grown man sits down in 2003 to watch Sunrise, made more than 75 years before, and finds himself in tears before it's half over, tears because he's moved by its sheer beauty ... either he's a sap or there's something very special about what he's watching, something timeless, something everyone should have a chance to see, something captured by the great artists of ages past in the music, literature, paintings, sculpture ... art that so enthralls all who find themselves before it. I won't claim to know which is to blame (sap or great art). It's probably both.
I've been trying to think of something to say here for thirty minutes. Nothing suffices. Thank you, Joe -- I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate your extraordinarily generous comments. For the first (and probably last) time in my life, I've been compared to Walt Disney. It just doesn't get any better than that. Thanks once again.
Paul Scott asked:
A nasty thought occurred to me. Since Brownlow is in the UK are these going to be transferred from PAL masters? I.e., will there be the motion blur artifacts that afflict the Chaplin discs and The Adventures of Prince Achmed (also from Milestone)? If so, I shall be justifiably furious.
I'm not sure what you mean, Patrick. They'll likely be from NTSC, both because of the A status of the title and the very heartening info mentioned by Roderick in another thread re: Milestone's just-released version of The Chess Player, another Photoplay production (Milestone's track record and the long production time for the Phantom disc all bode well for the care they've put into it), and thank goodness for that, as it's motion blur alone that keeps the Brownlow restoration of The Iron Mask, on disc from Kino, from holding the crown for loveliest B&W transfer on the market, bar none (how that film sparkles!). But Dennis Doros, headman at Milestone, himself said that the Brownlow restoration of Phantom will be presented at multiple frame rates. It won't be 24 fps unless Brownlow himself stepped in at the last minute and requested it, I'd dare say.
The 1925 version -- I'm unsure, but Milestone's fine editions of Quality Street and other silents suggest their willingness to ensure proper speeds. Others have suggested that presentational precision is something we can expect from the '25 version (I haven't heard anything directly from Milestone), and I'd be very surprised if it's transferred at an "easy" 24 fps. Everything from official word to internet rumor is subject to change/error, and the final disc will "tell the tale," but I'm fully expecting something at least a bit slower than sound for the '25. The '29 seems set in stone as such (though multiple rates could mean that some sequences will play at sound).
That's all I've heard, but what I've heard is very heartening. Again, indications thusfar are that Photoplay (Brownlow)'s The Chess Player, also Milestone, was taken from NTSC (I haven't seen it myself), and that bodes very well for what I'm sure Milestone regards as their single most commercial and renowned title: The Phantom of the Opera.
I meant that the source SMP video is a 24fps system. Thus, each frame of film is captured intact...
Basically, every frame is saved in the system and can later be converted to NTSC or PAL.
Bill I don't know about the other two but there is definitely better quality material available for The Eagle.
A restored version produced by Kevin Brownlow with a wonderful score by Carl Davis was created a few years ago. This was derived from a 35mm print from the Rohauer collection. Unfortunately both editions available on DVD at the moment are from 16mm prints.
A company called Navarre has released The Eagle as part of Triple Feature DVD. At silentera.com they compare Navarre's version of The Eagle reasonably favourably with the Image edition.
Here's a link to the info : http://www.silentera.com/DVD/eagleDVD.html The Navarre version they say also moves at the right speed unlike the dearer Image. On the basis of this I bought this Triple Feature because it was very cheap and I'd always liked The Eagle.
I'm reasonably happy with it : the picture quality is alright and the music quite good. It will do until Brownlow's version with the Davis score makes its appearance. The film is a lot of fun for those who are interested. Its Valentino's best picture because he pokes a bit of fun at his frankly ludicrous and dated great lover persona with a swashbuckling story which would have suited a Fairbanks or Barrymore.