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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned... -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 27, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Stanley Kubrick's dark comedy about high level military insanity and war during the "duck and cover" era is as brilliant today as it was in 1963, when George C. Scott noted in an interview, that he felt that it would be discussed far into the future.

    Mr. Scott was right.

    What he, nor anyone else, could have predicted however, in an age where original negatives were shipped across the pond (and then back) for printing, was that by the mid-1980s the original negative would be nowhere to be found.

    There have been various rumors.

    Mr. Kubrick was so upset that he ordered all extant elements shipped to his home outside London, where he meticulously re-photographed each frame from whatever was available...

    with his Nikon.

    Mr. Kubrick was so upset that he ordered all extant elements shipped to his home outside London, where upon examination of dupes, he found bits and pieces of his original negative cut in as replacement footage.

    The truth of the situation is that Columbia's Asset Protection guru, Grover Crisp, ordered all extant elements shipped in for examination, and in an era during which 4k restoration was virtually unknown -- I'm aware of only one other which entailed a trio of color films -- culled through the elements, and moved meticulously forward with the necessary frame by frame restoration, of which we are now the Blu-ray beneficiary.

    Acknowledging the fact that the OCN no longer is available, the results are as close to Mr. Kubrick's original intent as humanly and technologically possible.

    Gorgeous black & white, with a clean, dirt-free, stable image, and every bit of original resolution as captured by the protection elements.

    Dr. Strangelove is one of the most important and entertaining films made in our century plus of the cinema.

    I've seen it in virtually every incarnation over the years, and generally (except for the very first screening) went away less than pleased. This Blu-ray has me smiling again.

    Formatted in 1.66:1 aspect ratio, it gets something right that over the decades seemed to get continually overlooked. The proper framing of the B-52 Stratofortress in flight. These huge aircraft -- 8 engines, 159 feet long, 40 feet high, and with a wing span of 185 feet (many of which are still in service, and will remain in service) are magnificent in flight. For many of the shots in Strangelove, they were captured from wingtip to wingtip, but for whatever reason some of these shots seemed to have been continuously cropped in either printing or video replication.

    They're back, and framed to perfection.

    There is only one Dr. Strangelove, and it's a must own for anyone who even has an inkling that they love the cinema. Not to own this film can lead to the loss of one's cinephile license.

    As an aside, as I noted, while the aspect ratio of Dr. Strangelove is 1.66:1, the aspect ratio of the B-52 is slightly wider, even wider than Ultra-Panavision 70, at 8.56:1

    Dr. Strangelove on Blu-ray is the most perfect version of the film that one will see, and I can't not give it the unusual rating of:

    Extremely Highly Recommended!

    (Dr. Strangelove is encoded for regions A, B and C)

    RAH
     
  2. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    I might have to re-activate my blu access on netflix just for this.
     
  3. Dennis Maricic

    Dennis Maricic Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Robert for the very informative review.

    This is a title that I've coveted for sometime and am overjoyed to hear that it was treated with the respect it deserves.
     
  4. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    "As an aside, as I noted, while the aspect ratio of Dr. Strangelove is 1.66:1, the aspect ratio of the B-52 is slightly wider, even wider than Ultra-Panavision 70, at 8.56:1"

    is that a real aspect ratio?
     
  5. Scott D S

    Scott D S Well-Known Member

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    Do these two (somewhat minor) issues still exist from the last DVD release? I read this on another forum when this disc was announced:

    1. @38:09 - In the scene where the Russian ambassador is caught with the camera in the war room: after the line "That's a damn lie. I saw him with my own eyes." In the next line: "Mister >>[Amb...leman]
     
  6. Brian Borst

    Brian Borst Well-Known Member

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    LOL is that a threat [​IMG] ? Doesn't matter, though. I already planned to pick this up. Sony continues to take very good care of their back catalog, I must say. Along with Ghostbusters this should be a very satisfying release.
     
  7. MatS

    MatS Well-Known Member

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    great news but still gonna hold out for the price to drop
     
  8. Geoff_D

    Geoff_D Well-Known Member

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    The remastered DVD was an absolute joy to watch, and I'm glad to hear that the Blu does it even better. Thanks RAH.
     
  9. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    Sold! Thanks for the thorough review, RAH!
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    There are three types of film restoration or "restorations."

    1. A new print or cleaned negative hyped as a "restoration."

    2. What I have coined "masturbatory" restoration. What could have been a lab order, plus a bit of extra detail work, that has the trappings of a true restoration, as well as publicity and sizzle behind it.

    3. Film restorations that begin with proper research, and work from the ground up to literally re-build a film.

    Dr. Strangelove is a perfect example of number 3. As such, these problems inherent in older video releases necessary to cover problems with elements, no longer exist.

    Dr. Strangelove is film restoration done right.

    RAH
     
  11. PaulDA

    PaulDA Well-Known Member

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    While I've been quite happy with my SD copy (most recent release), this will be a double-dip for sure. I'll keep the other one (I use excerpts in class when we cover the Cold War) but for home viewing, only the best will do when it comes to the good Dr.[​IMG]
     
  12. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    Great to hear this came out great! The '04 remaster is fantastic, so I'm eager to see it in 1080p form. I took advantage of Amazon's $22 sale price on pre-order. Not that it wouldn't be worth a $40 MSRP.

    I've actually felt the murkiness of some older transfers added to the film, even if it was completely unintentional. I'd much rather see the film intended by Kubrick without the damage and dupey contrast, but I used to think it was meant to look like that when I was younger. This is not the case for 2001, which absolutely needs the best quality possible.


    On the subject of Kubrick, what's your opinion on the UCLA/MGM restoration for Paths of Glory?
     
  13. Terry Hickey

    Terry Hickey Well-Known Member

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    This is one of my all time favorites. I am looking forward to adding it to my small collection of films in high definition.
     
  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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  15. Mike Williams

    Mike Williams Well-Known Member

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    I believe Mr. Harris is referring to the actual B-52s themselves. I don't believe he means to imply that the aspect ratio of the film changes to 8:56:1 when we see the B-52.
     
  16. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Only when donning the colorful and festive pair of special Dr. Strangelove glasses (4 pair included with Blu-ray).
     
  17. Christian Preischl

    Christian Preischl Well-Known Member

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    Well, NOW I'm sold. [​IMG]
     
  18. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    Thanks, RAH. That makes the distinction between "masturbatory" restoration and an actual restoration even clearer.
     
  19. DavidJ

    DavidJ Premium
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    Crisp makes an excellent point about good intentions not being enough. Unfortunately we've seen this borne out from time to time on Blu-ray, but it is good to know that this title was handled correctly.
     
  20. Rob LoVerde

    Rob LoVerde Active Member

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    Thank you, Mr. Harris. You're right, that *was* an interesting read.

    Was this kind of restoration performed for other Kubrick films on Blu-ray?
     

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