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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Marnie -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Marnie, at least to me, is an important Hitchcock film, and I've always found that it works.

    Much of it was shot filtered, and it had a very special look to it.

    While color and density on this new Blu-ray are generally outstanding, grain structure is not, and I can only surmise as to the problem.

    What I'm thinking, and I'm guessing, is that the scan was taken from an IP that was produced optically, and I'm wondering if what we're seeing in the grain structure is a specular effect from the optical process.

    Sit back a bit, and things get better, but should a viewer be forced away from the image in order to make it palatable? It's not a pretty picture.

    Grain should be reasonably fine, as like the majority of other Hitchcock films from the era, I'm presuming that Marnie was shot in S35.

    Note and Update: After reading Mr. Kimmel's comments -- I trust his eyes implicitly -- I'm going to agree with him, that something untoward is going on with why the grain structure looks as it does.

    While it might partially be the optical concept as I earlier averred, much of the film does have the look of someone trying to have their digital way with it. And it's not good.

    Home theater fans should not have to figure out there way around these things. Quality, especially for something that is advertised as "restored," should be near perfect.

    For that reason, I'm adding Marnie to my "Recall" list, as it's unacceptable.

    I don't know why Universal marketing is presenting the all of these films as "restored," when they're not. It makes the tech people look bad. And they aren't using the word "restored." They've been very up front on these titles, as to what was being performed to what.

    Marnie may be exhibiting the My Fair Lady problem. And by that I mean the use of a pre-existing master, approved for 480i and standard definition DVD. Add six times the resolution, and unpleasant things begin to appear that were previously hidden.

    Image - 2

    Audio - 5

    RAH
     
  2. Persianimmortal

    Persianimmortal Well-Known Member

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    For me as well. I think in my case, it has a lot to do with Sean Connery's performance, while he was still at his Bondesque macho peak. There's a surprising amount of sensitivity in his portrayal.
    I guess the only question I have is the one raised by Nick Wrigley's earlier assessment, and that is: does the grain structure noticeably change/improve towards the latter part of the movie?
    And once again, faux grain or not, this will be a big upgrade for me, as again, Marnie, like The Birds, was only ever given a mediocre pan and scan DVD release in Australia/UK.
     
  3. mikeyhitchfan

    mikeyhitchfan Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a case of as good as it gets as Universal probably won't do a full restoration. Still, it's bound to look much improved to the DVD and I also have a soft spot for this film (heavy handed as it is sometimes).
     
  4. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Well-Known Member
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    This was a difficult movie to watch for all the softness. I remember reading that the issues cleared up near the end of the movie, but in our viewing yesterday, this was not the case. Given that the really soft shots were the coverage on Tippi Hedren, and that the worst of this were the shots that continued from the red-outs, I have to seriously wonder if I'm not just seeing something that was intended.
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    RAH can probably answered that, but in my opinion, I thought the film was shot to be soft in specific sequences.









    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Scott Calvert

    Scott Calvert Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully Nick will chime in eventually but I thought he said the strange fuzzy grain/noise cleared up by the end of the film, not the softness.
     
  7. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Well-Known Member
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    From what we saw, the grain situation looked fairly constant and did not change or clear up at the end. The last two shots of the movie are clearer, but they are shots (outside the apartment on the stage, and wider to show the matte painting) that tended to be clear at earlier points of the movie anyway.

    RAH and I have discussed this, and I can only conclude that the Blu-ray exaggerates the difference between the Hedren coverage and the other shots so that it's noticeably jarring when we cut to her. I believe Hitchcock wanted her coverage to be softer and more ethereal. I don't think he wanted it to be blatantly noticeable, and there's a big difference.
     
  8. haineshisway

    haineshisway Well-Known Member

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    I'll have the set on Tuesday, hopefully. But let me say this about Marnie - as you point out it's the Tippi shots that are soft and yes, that's the way it's always been. You can't criticize that other than to criticize Mr. Hitchcock. That's why other shots are sharp. Even in the caps I've seen, just look at the shot of the social security cards - sharp as a tack. They shot Miss Hedren with a huge amount of diffusion - glamor photography. It was a blatantly obvious choice on the part of the director. It IS an exaggeration and I'm not sure the Blu-ray would cause further exaggeration. As to the red shots, not only diffusion but an optical added on top of it. Always been that way. But I'll know as soon as I see it - it's a film with a very specific look and design and while it may not look like every other film, the dye transfer prints were gorgeous.
     
  9. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Well-Known Member
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    My understanding is that the Blu-ray does not look like the dye transfer prints. The difference between the other coverage and the Hedren shots is apparently less obvious in the prints. Filtration and glamour photography are intended as subtle choices when used. Granted, we've all seen examples where it's a bit more "in your face". (the typical Star Trek coverage of female guest stars, for example) But watching it on this Blu-ray, it went beyond making Hedren look more glamorous and actually began distracting me from watching the scene at hand.
     
  10. haineshisway

    haineshisway Well-Known Member

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    Well, I can't comment further until I see it, but Marnie is a film, like most of the Hitchcock's, especially from the 1950s on, that I know very well having owned dye transfer prints on all the color films from Rear Window onward (obviously not Psycho and Family Plot). Do you have the Masterpiece Collection DVD set? Because Marnie on that set looks very good for DVD. If you had it, you'd be able to compare those shots.
     
  11. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Well-Known Member
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    I do not have Marnie in any form other than this Blu-ray, and yesterday was the first time I saw it. I discussed the matter both with Joe Kane and with RAH to understand the difference between the dye transfer prints and the Blu. I'll be very interested to read your reaction once you see it, as you know the film a lot better than I do. My evaluation is based on being knocked out of the movie by the difference between the shots in the coverage.
     
  12. rsmithjr

    rsmithjr Well-Known Member

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    My professional experience with the dye-transfer prints of Marnie was running one for two weeks or so during original release. At the time, we were all underwhelmed. It make us wish for the days of VistaVision at Paramount. The worse-than-marginal special effects shots really made me want the Paramount special effects department. "Gorgeous" is a word that I would not have used for Marnie.
    Marnie is a film that has grown on me cinematically despite my assessment of the prints and special effects. This is the last time that (most of) the great Hitchcock team from the 50's worked together. My inclination has been to believe that Hitchcock himself did not "plan" all the details but left them up to very competent people he trusted, so this team was very important.
    I will be interested to see the Blu-ray but, based on my memory of that original dye-transfer print, I am not necessarily expecting a lot even if Universal has done a good job on the remastering etc. of the Blu-ray.
    As I mentioned, I don't have the expertise of many other people, so these are just my opinions.
     
  13. haineshisway

    haineshisway Well-Known Member

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    It really depends on what you're looking for and what your expectations were/are. I loved the look of Marnie back then and now. I completely bought into the backdrops, the rear projection, and the red opticals - to my mind the dye transfer prints really handled all of it very well - I understand if you didn't like the look of the film or its effects, but one really can't blame it on the prints.
     
  14. Scott Calvert

    Scott Calvert Well-Known Member

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    Here's a repost of what Nick Wrigley had to say at criterionforum.org:
    Sad to say, I don't disagree with any of it. He's right about chapter 18, for whatever reason most of the fuzzies go away as soon as the chapter starts and what you're left with is something like you would expect this film to look like.
     
  15. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    That seems like his old review with a new opening
     
  16. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Well-Known Member
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    And his review does not describe the experience I had of the Blu-ray over at Joe Kane's yesterday. I went in specifically looking for what he was talking about and didn't find it. Instead, we found the overly soft shots on Tippi Hedren, which did not improve as of Chapter 18.
     
  17. Cineman

    Cineman Well-Known Member

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    I saw Marnie at a theatrical screening in one of the better local revival houses 15-20 years ago and it was one of the most memorable, moving, magical cinematic experiences I've ever had in a theater. I was struck then that, despite its unconventional style or perhaps because of it, Marnie was vastly more interesting, involving and effective than what passed for "quality" filmmaking in those days, the early 1990s. I suspect I'd feel even more strongly about it compared to what passes for such fare today. Watching it on a really big screen, in a genuine movie house with an audience was the ticket, imo. Seeing it that way, I felt, totally vindicated Hitchcock's methods and approach here, proved his "bold experiment" right in terms of grabbing the audience and making them care about what happens next. Everything Hitchcock had learned about generating suspense, eliciting an emotional response from an audience, what matters and what doesn't matter with regard to his concept of "pure cinema", the literal assembly of one shot after another in order to generate all the above, is in Marnie every bit as much as it is in his more generally acknowledged masterpieces like Vertigo, Rear Window and Psycho.
    Thank you for the review, Mr. Harris. I'm anxious to pick up the Blu-ray of it, probably in the box set rather than waiting for the individual releases.
     
  18. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Well-Known Member
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    I'm going to revise my earlier statements and downgrade the rating on Marnie a bit further. On the projection setup at Joe Kane's, I did not see the egregious noise Nick was discussing. I just went back through all the discs on my own system on the 65" VT30 to check the bitrates and codecs. On my system, the noise does appear, and yes, it disappears right at the beginning of Chapter 18. Joe's setup is optimal, and mine was professionally calibrated in June. I can only surmise that the sharpness is higher on the plasma then on a projector system. But we're talking about two setups - one professionally graded and maintained, and the other professionally calibrated.
     
  19. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Sounds as if this is another one size doesn't fit all sItuation. Possibly flat panel vs projection.
    RAH
     
  20. haineshisway

    haineshisway Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't matter what you watch this on. Something clearly went wrong somewhere in this transfer. If I had to posit a guess, I think they used the DVD transfer from the velvet box, used some DNR then put back in, well, can't call it grain, so just call it that ugly black crawling stuff and snow - yes, Mr. Wrigley called it right. This is a disaster. Dye transfer prints on this film were wonderful, whether you like what Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Burks were doing or not. The street scenes at Marnie's mother's are just awful - they should be extremely sharp. And the color has been futzed with from the DVD color - you can see just how much very clearly in the car ride towards the end of the film - the rear projection plate should be almost all gray with the rain - and here it's anything but that. But nothing works in this transfer and whatever they've done it has exacerbated the diffusion in a way that is grotesque. Shame on Universal for trying to spruce up something that was fine for DVD but hardly befitting something called The Masterpiece Collection in a little year called 2012. I now have to keep the velvet box.
     
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