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Presumed Innocent/Frantic Blu-Ray - Double Feature Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Michael Osadciw, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    THRILLER DOUBLE FEATURE

    PRESUMED INNOCENT
    FRANTIC

    [​IMG]



    Studio: Warner Bros
    Film Years: 1987, 1990
    Film Length: 127mins, 120mins
    Genre: Thriller

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    Colour/B&W: Colour
    BD Specifications: 1080/24p

    Audio:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Surround
    Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0

    Subtitles:
    English SDH, Francais, Espanol


    Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW



    Harrison Ford plays in two very good films that’ll keep you thinking “whodunit” all the way through. Teaming up with two great directors (Alan J. Pakula on Presumed Innocent and Roman Polanski on Frantic), Ford delivers an excellent performance in both films – it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat!

    Ford is an attorney who is a prosecutor of a murder case in Presumed Innocent. Having been involved in an affair with another prosecutor in his firm – who now lies six feet under by murder – Ford’s obsession to uphold the law in this case forces him to run away from it as he becomes the prime suspect!

    To keep you on the edge of your seat, Ford doesn’t stay still as he searches all over Paris for his kidnapped wife in Frantic. The language barrier is not the only thing he encounters; shady dealers, bureaucracy, and the lowly local prevents this esteemed doctor finds little audience willing to assist finding his wife.


    PICTURE QUALITY: 3.5/5

    Both images exhibit similar qualities and both please this HD video reviewer. Little to nothing gets in the way of enjoying these films as a film even though I am watching home video. These movies are quite grainy, especially Frantic, and while watching it I felt as if I were seeing everything intended to be seen. These films are a bit softer than others, again Frantic taking the lead with Polanski’s European visual. Black levels aren’t as deep as I expected (away with the expectations!) and Frantic was a bit dim in comparison to the other. Don’t expect new modern day HD video ultra-sharp imagery with these movies. Expect to be massaged slowly into the world of catalogue titles that bring the imagery of film (readjusted to video standards) to the home.

    This is the first time Frantic has been released on widescreen. Both films are 1.85:1.


    SOUND QUALITY: 2.5/5

    I evaluated these soundtracks in two different ways: 1) Unaltered 2.0 through full-range Dunlavy SC-IV/A speakers and 2) DTS Neo 6 Movie/Dolby Digital Pro-Logic II for surround. In both cases, the lossless DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 Surround soundtracks present the audio for what they are: limited-range audio, lacking lower midrange and bass and bright high end. The encoding is not at fault here. Trust me, I want lossless for every soundtrack no matter the original master and number of channels. I prefer everything to be exposed rather than being covered up. It just so happens that these soundtracks aren’t so pretty even when fully engaged. I recall instances of a lot of hiss in these films, maybe a little more than normal. Dialogue is thin, effects in Frantic are dated, and the music is one of the better items in Presumed Innocent. Hitting the re-EQ will calm things down a bit at the expense of resolution. Playing these films with surround modes activated will also alter the audio somewhat with the added benefit of surround envelopment.


    SPECIAL FEATURES: ZERO/5

    Unless one considers the "double feature" on this disc, no features have been added to these discs. Nothing has been axed from the DVDs for this release.


    IN THE END…

    Classic Harrison Ford. Double Feature. Great HD video. Lossless audio. Two great films. Need I say more?

    Mike Osadciw
    10.04.03
    [​IMG]
     
  2. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

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    A word of warning to any serious FRANTIC fans out there. Yes, this is the best the film has ever looked, by far.
    However, there's a MAJOR flaw in the Blu-Ray.

    The audio track marked as "English" is actually an alternate "French" track, as presented on the UK DVD. All of the dialogue between English-speaking characters is still in English, but most of the little exchanges that Ford and Betty Buckley have with French characters is now in UNSUBTITLED FRENCH, clearly dubbed by Ford and Buckley themselves.

    It's bizarre, especially since it's a huge plot point that Ford's character can't speak a word of French. Yet here he is now switching from French into and out of English in the same sentence.

    I'm guessing this is some strange alternate version that was prepared for foreign markets, and nobody noticed when they made the Blu-Ray because the first few minutes are all Ford and Buckley talking to each other, so they're still all in English.

    A casual viewer may not notice this, they may just be a bit confused by the randomly appearing French dialogue. But anybody who knows the film well, as I do, having seen it far too many times, will not be a happy camper.
     
    Steve Freeling likes this.
  3. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Or it's the preferred sound mix of the filmmakers, since it was made in Europe and all.
     
  4. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    Quote:Originally Posted by Brandon Conway /img/forum/go_quote.gif">
    Or it's the preferred sound mix of the filmmakers, since it was made in Europe and all.

    That's a possibility, but it doesn't seem to jibe with…
     
  5. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

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    I had thought of that, but as Carl points out:
    It's hugely important to the plot that Ford does not speak even the slightest word of French. Aside from the thematic element of him being a complete outsider, there's a scene where he finds an answering machine tape connected to the mystery. Even though he knows he shouldn't let other people in on the plot, he's so desperate that he has a bellboy at the hotel listen to it and tell him what it says. This makes absolutely no sense if he speaks fluent French, as the redubbed version makes unavoidable.
     
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  6. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Well, I've never seen the film so you are more than likely correct. I was just throwing it out there. /img/vbsmilies/htf/smile.gif
     
  7. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

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    What I'm really wondering about is why Polanski ever created this mix at all. He clearly was involved, since the star is actually speaking in a foreign language on it, which is super rare unless that person is fluent and redubs their own films, like Jodie Foster in French.

    I can't imagine Ford speaks French, his French sounds awful, which makes me wonder all the more why Polanski bothered having him redub certain random lines, when it undermines the narrative of the film.

    By the way, I have the original 1988 VHS, the 1997 US pan-and-scan DVD and the UK widescreen DVD, and none of them have this issue with French dubbing. Ford speaks nothing but English in every previous video release, except for the "French" track I mentioned on the UK disc, which is identical to the "English" track on the Blu-Ray.
     
  8. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    It's possible that the exact same disc is being sold in several European territories, so they went with the more "Universal" English audio. What are the subtitles available on the disc?
     
  9. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

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    Only problem there is that some of the lines now in French actually kind of need to be heard in English to really understand what's going on in the plot.
    However, the only subtitles in English are for hard of hearing, and they just say "SPEAKING FRENCH" during all the French dubbed portions.
    I don't think this mish-mash version is good for anyone.
    French speakers will find an audio track that's 90% English, so they'll still need the available subtitles.
    Meanwhile, English speakers will now miss 10% of the dialogue and have no way to find out what's being said without checking one of the previous video incarnations.
     
  10. Mark-P

    Mark-P Cinematographer

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    I was wondering why Amazon had temporarily stopped selling new copies with a "item under review" explanation. This has been available for over 2 months and we are just NOW hearing about this? It just goes to show that reviewers DON'T watch the entire movie in order to review it!
     
  11. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    That is seriously unfair, just by the fact NO ONE has noticed until now.
     
  12. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

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    Glad to see Amazon has stopped selling it. Hopefully Warners will be as good about repressing this title as they were when they put the wrong audio track on SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE
     
  13. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree. Not the reviewer's fault at all.
    To me it's a glaring error because I love the movie and could recite every line by heart. However someone who hasn't seen it before or isn't paying close attention might just think that Polanski strangely chose to have parts of the film in French.
    It is Harrison Ford's own voice speaking the French, after all, and most of the dialogue in the film is delivered in a sort of off-the-cuff, documentary style. It's not a really flowerly, overwritten piece, everything is very conversational and fast, it would be possible to overlook this error if you didn't know what the film should actually sound like.
    Although I can only imagine a first-time viewer of this Blu-Ray would be a bit confused by Ford's endless protestations that he doesn't speak French, happening as they do in the middle of scenes where he 's doing just that.
     
  14. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

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    By the way, i hope I didn't sound too snide earlier. I'm glad you were interested i the issues here and wanted to discuss them:) I guess I'm just frustrated after waiting so long to see one of my favorite movies in an acceptable widescreen version.
    I'm grateful for you input, hope it didn't seem like I wasn't :)
     
  15. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    No offense taken.

    I just suspect that this is such an obvious thing that it could have only been intentionally signed off on at one point in the production pipeline.
     
  16. Alfonso_M

    Alfonso_M Second Unit

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    I'm glad I read this review, I'm also a great fan of "Frantic" and had been waitng for a better price to pick up this double feature since I've never seen the WS version.
    But this issue with the language is really disappointing, the fact that Ford's character doesn't speak a word of French is an integral part of the movie, his "fish out of water" portrayal adds suspense and humor, for instance, the Disco scene wouldn't work properly if Ford's character spoke fluid french, the language barrier wouldn't be there to create the confusion about the "white lady" then...
     
  17. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree, I think Polanski was clearly involved in creating this strange amalgam track, blending French and English in the voices of the principal actors, in 1988. I can only imagine it was for the film's release in France, which would be coupled with subtitles for the rest of the English dialogue. I still think it would have undercut the narrative enormously, but perhaps to a French audience the minimal amount of French that Ford speaks in this dub could pass as "not speaking French".
    I do, however, think its inclusion on this new Blu-Ray, in place of the correct English track, is purely a mistake.
    A person would have to watch the movie for five minutes, at least, to hear the French start popping up, and I can easily see someone who doesn't know the film, and how important it is that the Ford speaks only English, simply transferring the wrong audio track.
    A shame the Blu-Ray doesn't have a "French" track as well, they might have just inverted them. Unfortunately the only other audio track the Blu-Ray has is a complete redub of the film into Spanish.
     
  18. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

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    Update:

    I spoke with a very helpful person at Warner Home Video this afternoon who said she'd look into this and get back to me.

    She wasn't dismissive at all, but listened to the technical issues I described, clearly understood them, and took them seriously. I was thoroughly impressed.

    I'm sure the fact that Amazon has suspended sales of the disc had something to do with how attentive she was, and I'm glad for that.

    Still, it gives me hope that they'll repress the movie and do a disc trade like they did for SUPERMAN.
     
  19. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    I'm puzzled by your description in saying this audio track is the alternate French track as on the UK DVD. I have the UK DVD and there are very few differencies between the English and French audio tracks. Most of the French audio track has characters speaking English, because for the vast majority of the time characters are conversing with Harrison Ford. In the early hotel scenes Betty Buckley speaks French to hotel staff and she also speaks on the phone in French. The French track has optional English subtitles but there are no subtitles during that phone conversation or during some of the minor exchanges with hotel staff. On the English track she speaks English in those scenes but the dialogue is unimportant to the plot. All major scenes whish have French dialogue, such as when Emmanuelle Seigner is being roughly questioned by two men, and which is dubbed into English on the English track, have English subtitles. At no time on the French audio track does Harison Ford speak French. I far prefer the French audio track because it is much more authentic to have French characters speaking French.
     
  20. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

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    While I'm glad you care as much about the film as I do and I'm genuinely happy to have a discussion here, I'm not sure why you're puzzled. There's nothing particularly confusing here.

    The UK DVD has three audio tracks, labeled "English", "French" and "Italian". The one labeled "English" is the one that was used for all previous releases of FRANTIC in English-speaking territories. The one labeled "French" is the one that is included on the recent American Blu-Ray as the "English" option, along with a "Spanish" option, which is a complete redub of the film in that language.

    The "French" track is about 90% English, with about 10% of conversations involving French characters dubbed into French by the original actors, including Ford.

    I agree, it would be more authentic if it were just French characters speaking to each other in French. I'd even be okay with just Buckley using it, as her character could believably speak the language. Although the other issue is that the French on the Bu-Ray is completely unsubtitled.

    However, you use the example of the scene where the French cops interrogate Seigner in her apartment. Watch everybody's lip movements. They correspond to the English track, not the French. English is clearly the language the film was shot in. And when they say to each other that Ford is just a "crazy American," they need to have said that in English for Ford's character to quote that line back to them, or else he'd have to be able to speak French to know they said it.

    But watch the "French" track on the UK DVD more closely, it also has Harrison Ford dubbed into French. That, and that alone is my biggest issue here. (Although I also object in general to not including the audio track with which the film was originally released in theaters.) It is absolutely vital to the plot that Ford does not speak a word of French. He and other characters comment on it over and over throughout the film.

    He starts off by asking the bellboy who wakes him after his wife disappears, "What time is it", only now in French. Okay, maybe I buy someone who doesn't speak French could know that question. But watch the bellboy's lips, he answers in English, "Ten past ten," only he's dubbed into French too.

    Soon after, however, it becomes unbearable. Watch, in particular, the scene where Ford interrogates the little man from the bar in the alley and finds his wife's bracelet. It switches into and out of French, sometimes within the same sentence.

    I'll give one particularly glaring example. In the original version Ford's line is "What exactly did you see?" However, in the "French" version, he asks "Quoi, exactly, vous voir ici?" I'm sorry, there is no way on earth a non-French speaker can formulate that sentence. It undermines the entire film, and it's not an isolated incident.

    Again, while I want the original "English" language audio track restored, my strongest objection is to these exchanges that a suddenly fluent French-speaking Ford has.
     

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