Russian WAR AND PEACE

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by L BENDER, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. L BENDER

    L BENDER Agent

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    This might just be the greatest film ever made . First saw it during a trip to New York in the sixties. Saw part one during the afternoon and part two in the evening. There has not been anything like it since and no doubt never will be again. Yes I do have the widescreen dvd but lets be honest, the video quality is not the greatest. Colors are not very good though that might be due the Soviet color process. Could we ever see a restoration of this masterpeice? One can only dream.
     
  2. Jim*Tod

    Jim*Tod Second Unit

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    I agree... this is one of the all time great films and pretty much unbeatable purely as spectacle. I was lucky enough to see a 70mm print of the Russian version at AFI in Silver Spring a few years back... this had subtitles and was longer than the official U.S. release which had horrible dubbing. The image quality varied but the sound was incredible. I know recently a "restored" 35mm version was making the rounds... it showed at the Film Forum in NYC last year... and it was said then that the original elements have yet to be found. The Russico dvd has some problems image wise, but again the sound was great... I have never heard such elaborate use of the surround tracks.

    So---- add my vote for a new and improved dvd.
     
  3. Peter Overduin

    Peter Overduin Supporting Actor

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  4. Ken Horowitz

    Ken Horowitz Agent

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  5. Jim*Tod

    Jim*Tod Second Unit

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    Do not buy the Kultur version... it is not letterboxed and is basically horrid. What you want is the Russico version which while not perfect is vastly better. Check this link to DVD BEAVER for comparisons:
    "War and Peace (1967)" RusciCo vs Kultur
     
  6. Darth Lavender

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    Avoid the NTSC Ruscico, too.

    Basically, Ruscico has a policy of producing all their DVDs in PAL and then transfering (badly) to NTSC.

    This is especially serious with War & Peace, given the frequent use of a sort of early steady-cam type contraption. (ie. lots and lots of ghosting) It's not evident in the comparison for some reason but, trust me, in motion, it looks terrible. (I bought it a few years ago for, all up, about $100 (without knowing about PAL>NTSC,) and I haven't bought a single Ruscico DVD since. That should give you some idea of my impressions)

    Beyond the ghosting (an obvious transfer problem) it gets a little hard to say how much of the image-quality is director's intent and how much is an unfortunate side-effect of the loss of the original negative.

    Certainly, the subdued colors are consistant with Bondarchuk's later 'Waterloo' (shot on completely different film-stock and without as many problems as Voina i Mir)
     
  7. Larry-Bender

    Larry-Bender Guest

    Question for Mr. Harris- If you were invited to Russia to work on a restoration of War and Peace would you accept?
     
  8. theonemacduff

    theonemacduff Second Unit

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    Some clues as to the sad state of Bondarchuk's epic are to be gleaned from the extra features on the RusCiCo discs. Basically, the view seems to be that the film is a Soviet era dinosaur made for prestige purposes and has little value other than for western audiences who remember the cut-down, 2-part version fondly from 1967. The interview with the head of RusCiCo projects this attitude; he looks as though his only interest is in finishing the interview and leaving the room. But he does point out some technical problems too, as for instance, that the factory producing the 70mm film did a terrible job, and that on some shots, film would delaminate as it was moving through the camera; that the stock was rated at a very low ISO, requiring massive lighting setups that melted the makeup off the actors faces, etc etc. As to the colour palette of the film, the RusCiCo discs exhibit wild variations in colour between scenes, with some shots of fields and forests being vibrant and saturated, while others are dull and pushed towards magenta. I can't believe this was the director's intention, and I recall the film being much more vivid when I saw in during its 1967 run, very saturated in fact. If the film is ever to look again as Bondarchuk wanted it to look, it would have to have a thorough overhaul, a frame-by-frame cleanup and colour adjustment, which would be enormously expensive. Not something RusCiCo is likely to do without funds from outside, as they would be hard-pressed to be able to recoup such an investment.

    Still and all, the RusCiCo discs are currently the best presentation you can find of the film, in its complete, 4-part version.
     
  9. Sumnernor

    Sumnernor Supporting Actor

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    I bought "War and Peace" done by Sergei Bondarchuk and bought the Articial Eye version from Amazon.co.uk In March 2008 for 22.95 pounds. At the time, I remember there was talk about NOT getting the US available versions. There was also a thread in HTF at:
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/topic/272741-russian-war-and-peace/
    In the US there were problems with the Kultur films edition which was 4x3 and edited and the NTSC Widescreen version and the NTSC Ruscico, version where the conversion from PAL to NTSC was poor,
    Since the movie is great and I bought the Articial Eye version I will state how you can get it. One german commented about the english cutting things because of animals being hurt. So far I haven't noticed that problem where in a battle horses are falling. In any case I would not get the US versions if they are still available. I am happy with the version that I have. The film is circa 400 minutes and is in 4 parts, With my version there is an english audio track which is used circa 80% but I choose the russian sound with english subtitles. I don't understand russian but you hear the "emotion". There are in addition many other languages subtitles such as French and German.
    The links on Amazon UK are:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/War-Peace-DVD/dp/B000H5TIAQ/ref=sr_1_16?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1366912387&sr=1-16&keywords=war+and+peace
    This is the version that I have.
    ---------------------------------
    Also
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/War-Peace-DVD-Liudmila-Savalieva/dp/B005EXCG3M/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1366908608&sr=1-2&keywords=war+and+peace
    This is the latest version
    ------------------------------
    For my version it states region 2 but its really regions 1-6. I don't know about the latest version. I tried to find out from Articial Eye and wasn't able to find out. Both are PAL and my version can be played on a PC. IF someone buys the latest version and has a multi region machine they should be able to find out what region codes it has. Please comment on this forum, I suspect that is is just like my version.

    Moderator's Note: This post was moved into the appropriate thread. MF
     
  10. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

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    This is one that Criterion should pick up. I'd like to see a lot more Russian cinema coming from them.
     
  11. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    The restoration of this film would be massively expensive even for Criterion, I would think, with an msrp to match. I also would like to see this get a decent US release on Blu-ray. I've seen the wide-screen DVD and even with the quality issues it was nice to be able to see this epic in the OAR.
     
  12. theonemacduff

    theonemacduff Second Unit

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    Yeah, I loved it in '67, saw the four-part version on the BBC in 1981-82 (over Christmas, if memory serves, a nice present), then got the RusCiCo discs as soon as they came out. It's like a massive independent art movie but with RESOURCES, like, almost as many soldiers fighting the battles as originally fought them in 1811-12. There's a few places where we get galleries of close-ups of "workers & soldiers" but the interesting thing about those is that once they're over, the film often returns to EXACTLY the same shot that it left on, as if the editors were saying -- "Sorry folks, we were ordered to put in these ideological shots, but we did so in such a way that you can edit them out of memory." Loved the film, and seriously wondered, on my last viewing, about the homoerotic undertones of the Prince & Pierre relationship, which is much the most intense in the story. Is that in Tolstoy's text, I wonder?
     
  13. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Second Unit

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    A superior masterpiece, tailor-made and built like a tank, with superb production values and a marvelous cast. A pity Criterion can't get their hands on this one for a ground-up restoration. Movies of such rare quality are commonly - if grotesquely - overlooked for the restoration they so obviously need. Around the World in 80 Days and Giant immediately come to mind. Occasionally, we are at the mercy of film stocks, but with all of the technological wizardry currently available what it all really boils down to is time and money. Few want to spend either on such a mammoth undertaking. That's a pity. Heck, it may even be tantamount to an artistic sin.

    We'll just have to wait and see if some boutique label like Criterion can get their hands on this title and give it its due. They did wonders with Fanny and Alexander. I have been trying to get them to remaster and release Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark to Blu-ray for over two years - another nearly forgotten Russian masterpiece. The time for being proactive is NOW!!! Film decomposes at an alarming rate. Tomorrow's generations will be bankrupted if something isn't done to bring such classics as War and Peace back into the public spotlight.
     

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