1. Guest,
    If you need help getting to know Xenforo, please see our guide here. If you have feedback or questions, please post those here.
    Dismiss Notice

A Few Words About A few words about...™ El Cid

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    8,645
    Likes Received:
    4,077
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    I saw El Cid when it played in NYC in 70mm, and the memory of the size and scope of the production is still with me.

    The new DVD is a step up from the old laserdisc, but unfortunately, it still falls far short of representing the film on the DVD format.

    And this is a pity.

    I really tried to like this presentation, but it fell flat visually at every turn.

    I first sampled the discs on a 30" HD Sony XBR in my office that I use as a reference. I attempted viewing the disc first via a normal SD player, and then via a Toshiba HD. On both, the image looked too soft for a modern DVD, and color was far from acceptable.

    Last night I tried again.

    Initially through a properly tuned Lexicon SD player, and then through both HD as well as BD players.

    The image that hit my screen was the same, only now on a larger surface the problems were exacerbated.

    What I perceive to be the first reel has a shading problem. By that I mean that the image is weak on the left side, with a total lack of black or contrast. My bet would be a field illumination problem during the manufacture of the 35mm element -- not uncommon when optically reduction printing from large format.

    While it seemed to go away in reel two (I have not yet had the time to go back and see if it returned in later reels), the color remained flat, the image weak, undefined and more or less unacceptable.

    The overall look of the video effort has the appearance of being digitally cleaned a bit, and smoothed for a more pleasant look with the removal of all high frequency information, and then sharpening, which has added the normal EE lines around most everything.

    There are scenes which have wide vistas such as a shot of a castle which then pans down a hillside. Color is weak. Detail is non-existent. Greens and browns have turned murky.

    A similar scene on a bridge not far into the film has a similar appearance. Underexposed, with blown out skies and no detail.

    The pity here is that it's obvious that work went into this product, but what has come out the other end no longer has the feel of a large format epic.

    I have no personal knowledge regarding the original elements, but from the most general basis, the OCN should not be faded, and a superior transfer should be attainable by simply running the original negative to an IP and transferring the resultant element in 8 perf Technirama.

    For some reason, which makes little sense to me, there has been a huge loss of information in the simple process of creating a 35mm transfer element.

    I'll say it again.

    I really wanted to like this release, but to my eye, there is little left of the film to make it anything special. Sometimes we're better staying with positive memories.

    I should add that the smoothing and removal of high frequency information may only affect an SD release, and a high definition version might look superior, although I have my doubts regarding the film elements.

    RAH
     
  2. willyTass

    willyTass Second Unit

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Messages:
    419
    Likes Received:
    29
    very sad
     
  3. Chris S

    Chris S Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    2,537
    Likes Received:
    2
    Real Name:
    Chris S
    That's definitely disappointing to hear. Based on your comments I'll be giving this a rental to see for myself before deciding if this is a title I'm going to buy. Appreciate the review!
     
  4. Mark Anthony

    Mark Anthony Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2001
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    2
    Mr Harris, thank you for your insightful comments as always.

    I was under the impression that the work undertaken by martin scorsese's film foundation in the early 90's on this title, was to preserve the negative and create 65mm prints for theatrical showing (as well as 35mm prints such as used for the criterion transfer a decade ago) . But recently commentor's on this site have said that all that occured was that new 35mm prints were created with little or no preservational work to the O-neg, with your contacts do you have any idea if this is correct or not?

    It seem's to have been a terrible missed opportunity if this is the case and given that at the very least some newly struck 35mm prints were created it does question to what standard they were made if this is the result.
     
  5. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 1999
    Messages:
    16,851
    Likes Received:
    280
    Location:
    Disney World and Universal Florida
    Real Name:
    Tony D.
    ouch.

    i planned on waiting for a hd version anyway.
    a rent was my only option at this point
     
  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2001
    Messages:
    35,955
    Likes Received:
    4,584
    Location:
    Rensselaer, NY
    Guess I'll wait before pulling the trigger on this one. [​IMG]
     
  7. PatrickDA

    PatrickDA Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    202
    Likes Received:
    13
    I checked this out on a regular tube TV (19") and it looked
    pretty decent, but then I tried it out on a 36" HDTV and it
    looked less than great. It certainly doesn't match the transfers
    of "Ben-Hur," "Cleopatra," "Spartacus," "King of Kings," and "The
    Ten Commandments." I imagine they did the best they could for
    the PRICE they were willing to do it for, but I was hoping for A LOT
    MORE!

    However, I MUST SAY the package is EXCELLENT! I love the re-production
    of the program, comic, and the extras on the actual DVD. People should
    really pick up the box set for only $25 bucks on Amazon instead of just
    getting the stand-alone DVD.

    Hey, Mr. Harris - What do you know about the elements for "The Fall
    of the Roman Empire." I thought the DVD version of that film looked
    superior to the DVD of "El Cid." I wonder if they'll have a better looking
    transfer for "FOTRE" than they were able to muster for El Cid"?
     
  8. Craig99

    Craig99 Extra

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2007
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Compared to Robert Harris, I'm J6P. But, IMHO, I thought El Cid was a beautiful transfer, at least in comparison to most of my other 2:35 DVDs. Rich colors, almost zero grain, good detail, edge enhancement not noticeable on my 46" screen, fed by my Toshiba HD-A30.
     
  9. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    1,779
    Likes Received:
    0
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    8,645
    Likes Received:
    4,077
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    I have no personal information regarding any of the Bronston titles.

    FotRE should have been photographed on Kodak 5251, which means that if kept at a reasonable temp and humidity, it should be easily printable for color.

    RAH
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    8,645
    Likes Received:
    4,077
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    From rec.arts.movies.tech

    "Monday evening, January 28th, the American Film Institute's Silver
    Theatre showed a high definition video version of "El Cid." Each
    attendee received a copy of the 40-page program reproduction that will
    appear in the DVD boxed set. The screening was preceded by remarks from
    Mike Clark, film critic for USA Today, and by a spokesman for Genius
    Productions who worked with the Weinstein Company on producing the DVD.
    The picture quality was only so-so. The left-most portion of the picture
    was somewhat blurry. The theater management attributed this to
    "keystoning" of the picture. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but
    I believe that it has to do with the projector being off axis with the
    screen. Otherwise the picture was OK, with good color. Even at its best,
    however, the picture was not up to the 35mm print I saw at the AFI in 1993.
    Regarding the music--another mixed bag. The sound was excellent, the
    music bright and clear. But the AFI dispensed with the overture in its
    entirely, perhaps reasoning (incorrectly as far as I was concerned) that
    after the speeches, no one would be interested in listening to a
    4-minute overture before the start of the film proper. At the
    intermission point, following the final notes of the first act (and true
    to the DVD mastering), the entr'acte immediately began. The entr'acte
    played completely through, while the intermission card stayed on the
    screen. Only then did the house lights come up. Following the
    intermission, the second act began without further introductory music,
    with Rodrigo bursting through the doors of Alfonso's throne room. At the
    end of the film, the choral exit music was properly played.
    Despite its limitations, I fear that this may be the best "El Cid" we
    may ever again see. I despair that any good 35mm prints remain. On a
    brighter note, the spokesman from Genius stated that the AFI may have
    future video showings of the other Bronston films as they are released
    to DVD, starting with "The Fall of the Roman Empire" in April. As I have
    only see FOTRE on a 27 inch screen, this will likely be my only chance
    to see it on a 40 foot screen. "

    The projection problem noted above is a separate issue from the problem that I'm seeing.
     
  12. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2001
    Messages:
    3,291
    Likes Received:
    0
    The screenshots on DVD Beaver look good though. I'll be picking it up.
     
  13. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Messages:
    1,813
    Likes Received:
    314
    Real Name:
    David
    Posted by R.A.H.:
    I wish that the film had been properly restored, but I have to say there is plenty left to make watching it special. It is certainly a step up from the laserdisc. IMO, El Cid is too important a film to consign to memory of some great, past big-screen showing. Certainly, one need not forget those memories, but many people can appreciate this DVD. Unless someone is going to pony up millions for restoration, this is as good as it will get.

    I remember my early days of home video in the late 70's, when I counted myself fortunate to tape a grainy 16mm print off TV of one of my favorite movies. I remember the thrill of getting Citizen Kane on VHS from a company called Nostalgia Merchant. There is no way this El Cid is as bad as all that.

    If you are a fan of the film, or Heston, or Rozsa, or have always wanted to see the film, this DVD is a must-have, IMO. I am by no means blown away by the DVD, but I think it is watchable. i'd certainly double dip an improved HD version or restored or remastered version, but I'll take this one for now. It's kind of like those Tyrone Power films that were either not restored by Fox or minimally restored by Fox in their Power box set. They could have/should have done more, but I at least appreciated that they released what they had.
     
  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    8,645
    Likes Received:
    4,077
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    I'm not certain where the concept of "restoration" came from.

    Although there may be some problems with the elements, I would believe that the film should NOT need to be restored, merely printed to proper elements from original materials.

    The cost to create a new quality video master would not be prohibitive. Criterion did so for The Leopard.

    While the creation of a 65mm printing dupe would not be inexpensive, it would certainly be easy to do so for 70mm printing.

    Weinstein is a quality organization, and there is obviously something more going on in regard to the availability of elements than meets the eye. If, for example, only US rights are held, one can hardly expect them to invest in the creation of new elements without others sharing.

    One would hope that the owner(s) of the copyright would wish to see the film viewed in the best light possible.

    RAH
     
  15. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Messages:
    1,813
    Likes Received:
    314
    Real Name:
    David
    I guess where I said "restoration", I guess I should have said "mastered from better elements". Many of us here use the word restoration in error. We are really meaing that we want to see the image "restored" to what it should be. I suppose one meaning of the word "restored" could encompass what I meant. For example, the Stuart dynasty was "restored" after the fall of Cromwell. However, this did not mean that new Stuarts had to be created. They simply returned from exile and the late king's son mounted the throne. In that sense, when I said "restored" in relation to El Cid, I meant something along those lines-a return to the original.

    It is sad that such a major film appears to be such an unwanted stepchild. However, I still think that 10 or so years after the dawning of DVD that it is good to see it released in a decent if unremarkable version.
     
  16. PatrickDA

    PatrickDA Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    202
    Likes Received:
    13
    I watched the 17-min. doc on Anthony Mann and I thought it was
    excellent! I do wish it could've been longer though.

    I've ALWAYS thought "Fall of the Roman Empire" looked vastly superior (at
    least on home video) than "El Cid" ever has. My Imgine Entertainment
    laserdisc of "FOTRE" looks better than the just released region 1 DVD of
    "El Cid." Could it be that "FOTRE" was just filmed better? It had double the
    buget and I guess more could've been spent on the film stock, cameras,
    or lenses, right? I don't know the facts, but "FOTRE" has always been
    SHARPER and more COLORFUL than "El Cid."
     
  17. Stephen PI

    Stephen PI Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Messages:
    471
    Likes Received:
    18

    You cannot judge the original photography of "El Cid" by the way it is represented on the laserdisc or dvd. El Cid was the only Bronston title, back in the days of the Image laserdisc releases, that went through Scorsese and Miramax. The other Bronston titles were handled properly. I.P.'s or equally good materials were provided for those masters and looked fantastic for their time, and still do, and to me photographic/color-wise represent the way the films were originally. As presently stated, the El-Cid transfer was made from inferior elements - from a 35mm low-con print - in telecine and this source is what has been used today.
    As has been quoted, when I enquired why Weinstein did not go to the expense of creating a new IP, a member of the HTF retorted with two words 'TOO EXPENSIVE!'.
     
  18. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2000
    Messages:
    15,254
    Likes Received:
    258
    Location:
    London, England
    Real Name:
    Steve Christou

    [​IMG]

    El Cid has always been a favorite of mine, I bought the dvd a couple of weeks ago. I respect Mr. Harris opinion but to my eyes it looked perfectly acceptable. I'd hate to think people who have waited patiently for this to finally appear on DVD are now cancelling their orders.

    [​IMG]

    Looking forward to Fall of the Roman Empire. [​IMG]
     
  19. RickER

    RickER Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2003
    Messages:
    5,130
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Real Name:
    Rick
    I cancelled mine. I will rent it from NetFlix first. I didnt have anything else to get this week anyway. It will do me good to miss a week on Amazon, or Best Buy, every now and again.
     
  20. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,513
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    Alpharetta, GA, USA
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    This doesn't have the "snap" that many other well-transferred large-format films have on DVD, but it's not bad enough to require a cancellation. There's definiately something "off" about the image, but I didn't notice excessive noise reduction smearing or even edge enhancement besides a few shots (after skimming). The color looks a bit subdued and black levels aren't as inky as I'd expect. The best Technirama films I've seen on DVD are MGM's 16x9 remasters of The Pink Panther and Zulu. Zulu is a 10 to my eyes, so I'd rank El Cid as 8. Even Criterion's The Leopard had way too much edge enhancement that mess up an otherwise gorgeous transfer.

    I paid for the limited edition and it was still worth it. It's not as good as it should have been, but it's far from being a bad DVD.
     

Share This Page