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A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Earrings of Madame De... -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The Earrings of Madame De... is a cinematic masterpiece. A tale of love, of indiscretion, and of fate.

    Technically, it acts as a primer to the extraordinary work of filmmaker Max Ophuls, and specifically to his extreme use of moving camera and long takes -- in 1953.

    I have a huge problem with this purported "restoration" of Earrings, as I'm not a believer in masturbatory film restoration, of which this is a wonderful example.

    The work performed in 2012 is far too recent to be performed as done. I would chastise Gaumont and those behind the work, but I'll not do that, as I consider it an unfriendly act. I'll suggest, persuade, and attempt to educate.

    Gaumont and those involved need to be far more cognizant of the the value, and use of original film elements, which are irreplaceable.

    One should absolutely never, ever scan an original negative at anything less than full resolution for any purpose other than asset protection and true restorative efforts. With even the slightest chance of damage during the scan, in shipment, etc., it simply should not be done.

    If an entity is desirous of saving money, scan at 4k, archive the scans, and do a clean-up a HD resolution.

    But why even consider that for one of the greatest of most important artifacts of our cinematic culture?

    There are fine grains and dupe negatives that could have been used, and the final result on Blu-ray, would have been all but indistinguishable from what has been harvested from the OCN.

    End of rant.

    Reading about the 2k scan, I had red flags raised high.

    Especially after the horrific Blu-ray of Children of Paradise, I expected the worst.

    But it never really came.

    Spending quality time with Criterion's new Blu-ray, I've come away generally pleased. The majority of the data looks fine. Make no mistake, the film has been processed for grain reduction, but even in shots that should be problematic, those that have moving dust, fog, steam or other distractions of the sort, things work decently. The film is extremely clean. But the grain removal is not without problems -- and I really don't understand why it's done, as it has nothing to do with "restoration." There are processing problems, and I did note one extreme anomaly during the hunt sequence, in which the shrubs in the background of a shot or two seem to have gone totally digital, indistinct and "clumpy." I would call them almost "painterly." I don't know how to dissuade people from turning that knob.

    Brilliant blacks, full deep shadow detail, sparkling whites. A grain structure is fake, but appears decent. No obvious anomalies, hanging grain or other problems.

    Audio the best I've ever heard for the film, with sparkling frequency and well-controlled low. Dialogue is crisp and clear.

    I love this film. Make no mistake, it is one of the most important and beautiful films ever made. Bar none.

    It belongs in the collection of any serious cinephile. To consider yourself as such, and to not own it, may be cause to lose one's identity as such.

    Image - 2.5

    Audio - 5


    RAH
     
    bujaki likes this.
  2. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    if I may ask, with all the furor on other corners of the internet, and the many issues you point out, how is this transfer more acceptable than what was done with Children of Paradise?
     
  3. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Well-Known Member

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    Any import discs on this that might be better or is this now going to be considered the definitive transfer, such as it is?
     
  4. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    well it seems they would all come from this Gaumont harvest, so they'd theoretically all be the same.
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Because, with the exception of a handful of shots, this is still eminently watchable.

    Children of Paradise is a coaster.

    With a hole in the center.

    RAH
     
  6. Peter McM

    Peter McM Well-Known Member

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    "masturbatory film restoration"? I'm gonna have to remember that one.

    It's disappointing, not to mention nearly unimaginable, that a high-profile Criterion blu-ray has been given this kind of a sub-par treatment. I trust this is a one-off for the Collection; I can't imagine them such that they think just because a film bears the most beloved logo in home theater it won't automatically stand up to scrutiny.
     
  7. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Well-Known Member

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    I think that Gaumont twisted Criterion's arm into releasing this one. I assume the same happened last year with their release of Children of Paradise.
    Couldn't have said it better myself!
    I can't agree enough. I cringe every time I hear "2k restoration from the OCN". And yes, Gaumont could and should be doing a far better job than it is.
     
  8. atcolomb

    atcolomb Well-Known Member

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    Was going to buy the blu-ray but Amazon had a great price on the 2008 dvd release and that is the one i got. Also i did see DVD BEAVER's website comparison and it was not enough for me to go blu-ray but happy to have this great film in my collection. Do agree with Robert about Children of Paradise and i hope one day Criterion will re-release it again with their high standards.
     
  9. DavidJ

    DavidJ Premium
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    Unfortunately this is one that I have not had a chance to see. It sounds like I need to rectify that. I wonder if this quote will be enough to convince the wife that I had to buy it---Criterion has been plowing through my movie funds recently. :)
     
  10. Ray H

    Ray H Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, Criterion and other small companies that license movies for home video are often at the mercy of the copyright holders for the HD masters. Sometimes they get something beautiful. Other times, they get something like Gaumont's "HD restoration" of Children of Paradise.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    True.But fortunately Criterion is responsible for a great many of their transfers, and quality is at the fore. RAH
     
  12. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Well-Known Member

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    The last time I checked Gaumont and Pathe are not the same company.
     
  13. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Well-Known Member

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    Precisely what I said.
     
  14. McCrutchy

    McCrutchy Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but Gaumont definitely had a period (which I hope is now over) where they were turning knobs for their releases. A number of their 2012 releases in France had significant DNR. Thankfully, the ones I have seen reviewed from 2013 seem to be largely unaffected, although The Earrings of Madame De... is out in France in September.
     
  15. EddieLarkin

    EddieLarkin Well-Known Member

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    iTunes 720p download (using the same source as the 2008 Criterion DVD):

    http://i.imgur.com/Vvaw9P7.jpg

    Criterion Blu-ray:

    http://i.imgur.com/o28lYeh.jpg

    What in God's name did they do?!

    I notice this painterly effect in a great deal of the caps on the net. Would it not have been better for Criterion to dismiss the new transfer and instead just give us their old HD master in 1080p?
     
  16. Ray H

    Ray H Well-Known Member

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    Whoops! I confused the two. :)
     
  17. bugsy-pal

    bugsy-pal Well-Known Member

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    Cripes Eddie - that is shocking! I think I'll be downloading the film in 720p if at all possible....
     
  18. EddieLarkin

    EddieLarkin Well-Known Member

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    Davinchi and Robin9 like this.
  19. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Well-Known Member

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    That looks now like I can buy it after all. :)
     
  20. Oblivion138

    Oblivion138 Well-Known Member

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    So according to Amazon, the Gaumont release is Region-free and has English subtitles...is that correct? Just want to be 100% certain before I chance importing it.
     
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