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Columbia Tri-Star drops ball on Apu Trilogy...


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#1 of 41 OFFLINE   Gary Tooze

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Posted October 22 2003 - 04:52 AM

Columbia Tristar's eagerly awaited R1 USA DVDs of Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy are being released seperately on October 28th, 2003. Unfortunately, they are unrestored, have ingrained English subtitles, and zero extras (not even liner notes) duplicate cover art from the VHS versions. Considering their price this is extremely disappointing because restored film elements do exist in the USA. We hope that there is time to cancel any preorders if you were expecting more from a major company such as Columbia Tristar. The films are available in the UK from Artificial Eye with copious extras and optional English subtitles.

Reviews with screen captures can be found here:

http://www.reviews.dvdbeaver.com/

Regards,


#2 of 41 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted October 22 2003 - 05:08 AM

This is a shame. Those screengrabs look horrible. Posted Image
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#3 of 41 OFFLINE   WillardK

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Posted October 22 2003 - 05:20 AM

Terrible news! Posted Image Thanks for the warning. This set was on my definite list... now they're definitely NOT.
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#4 of 41 OFFLINE   Marc Colella

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Posted October 22 2003 - 05:42 AM

Unbelievable.

I wish the studios would take more pride in their foreign titles and give them the proper DVD treatment.

I hope the Apu Trilogy didn't take too much time away from Columbia TriStar's handling of the Charlies Angels: Full Throttle DVD. Posted Image

Thanks for the heads-up Gary.

Columbia won't be seeing any of my money. Posted Image

#5 of 41 OFFLINE   Jay E

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Posted October 22 2003 - 06:01 AM

Thanks for the info Gary. I'll definitely pick up the UK DVDs now.

#6 of 41 OFFLINE   Carrol

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Posted October 22 2003 - 06:07 AM

Now, wait a second. I'm not going to deny that burned in subtitles and a sub-par (compared to modern standards) transfer is a disappointment.

But quite a few Satyajit Ray films were partially restored and preserved in or around 1995 by the director James Ivory and producer Ishmail Merchant.

In or around (maybe a year or two later) that time Columbia/Tri-star issued a VHS version of the APU TRILOGY and JALSAGHAR and up to that point it was the best looking I had ever seen Ray.

Previous to that, the only thing available was a really bad version of the TRILOGY from public domain tapes that I had -- now, THOSE were god awful. Scenes seemed bleached, the negative was apparently warped... it was like watching a busted 8mm film of your first Christmas while someone shakes the projector, bad, bad, bad.

I honestly can't imagine the job that Columbia/Tri-Star did to be THAT bad.

Burned in subtitles? Hmm... do any of you speak Bengali? I don't... why do you need to get rid of the sub's? At least they appear to be legible.

They were just restored about 8 years ago... so they're not perfect, so it's not the type of job that say a Criterion would do for an OZU or FELLINI title.

Frankly, I can't imagine the market having much of a demand for Ray films. We're pretty lucky Columbia/Tri-Star is even putting them out to begin with. Let's face it, the market for 50 year old Indian films is pretty small, why would they dump 100 large into the restoration of those films when they have decent versions at their fingertips?

Good grief...I think some people are getting a bit too picky with DVD's.

You're about to be able to own Satyajit Ray's trilogy in R1 NTSC... why bitch??

http://www.sfgate.co....04/DD42025.DTL

#7 of 41 OFFLINE   WillardK

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Posted October 22 2003 - 06:35 AM

Carrol...

At over 20USD a disc, I expect more of an effort. Much smaller companies do excellent work on titles just slightly more obscure (/sarcasm) than these and at lower retail. So there really is no excuse. I will not buy these.
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#8 of 41 OFFLINE   Carrol

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Posted October 22 2003 - 06:50 AM

20 bones for a bare DVD of a Ray film is pretty reasonable compared to a fully stacked Ozu film (see the upcoming TOKYO STORY dvd from Criterion, which I'm sure will be mesmerizing) that costs 30+ USD.

I'm still buying at least PATHER PANCHALI -- I'm really excited about it.

Maybe some people that have reservations about purchasing it sight unseen, perhaps you can rent one of the TRILOGY from a mom and pop that has a good foreign section of DVD's and see if it's worthy of 20 bucks.

Maybe it's not quite as bad as the review says -- after all, I'm sure the standards of that reviewer are pretty high (understandbly so).

Just a thought...

#9 of 41 OFFLINE   Mark_TS

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Posted October 22 2003 - 07:12 AM

quote: "I hope the Apu Trilogy didn't take too much time (or resources) away from Columbia TriStar's handling of the Charlies Angels: Full Throttle DVD...."


-or THE TICK:SEASON ONE!

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#10 of 41 OFFLINE   Gary Tooze

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Posted October 22 2003 - 08:05 AM

Quote:
...the market for 50 year old Indian films is pretty small,
You are marginalizing this film (and trilogy). This is not just any 50 year old Indian film... From start to finish, Pather Panchali was unlike anything ever produced in commercial Indian cinema... and it is considered one of the greatest films of all time. I've bought better quality (and older films) on DVD, with more Extra Features (a trailer would would be considered 'more') for less money... I suggest reading a little about Satyajit Ray and then deciding whether you think this DVD is a worthy representation. Funny thing about this film is the amazing cinematography that is lost in a hazy shallow picture. Its lack of clearity actually gave me a headache. No, I think it is justifiable to be outraged at this...

Quote:
...when they have decent versions at their fingertips?
They don't.. that is the point... and there are restored prints available in the US...

Regards,


#11 of 41 OFFLINE   Dan Rudolph

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Posted October 22 2003 - 08:15 AM

Agreed with Gary. This won't sell in Matrix Reloaded numbers, but as old foreign filsm go, they're quite popular. You'd think it would be worth dropping a little money to clean them up.
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#12 of 41 OFFLINE   Andy_MT

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Posted October 22 2003 - 08:26 AM

i'd be interested in knowing whether columbia have fixed their "sound" problems on what seems most of their new titles (crackling on the center channel).

#13 of 41 OFFLINE   Mark Zimmer

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Posted October 22 2003 - 09:12 AM

Hm, those screengrabs toward the bottom look like they exhibit PAL-NTSC ghosting. But none of them look like anything better than VHS. Columbia really did cheap out here; perhaps they took them from PAL videotapes? What are the running times?

#14 of 41 OFFLINE   MartinTeller

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Posted October 22 2003 - 09:31 AM

I was considering a blind purchase of these, but now it looks like something for Netflix.

Burned in subtitles? Hmm... do any of you speak Bengali? I don't... why do you need to get rid of the sub's? At least they appear to be legible.


After I get the basic gist of the dialogue (2-3 viewings) I like to turn the subs off so I can concentrate more on the visuals.

#15 of 41 OFFLINE   Brian PB

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Posted October 22 2003 - 12:39 PM

Gary: Great information & thanks for spreading the word. Just curious, did you get these as screeners from CTHE, or did you purchase them? I haven't seen any other reviews yet.

I had been critical of Columbia's strategy with this release from the outset, and now I'm simply outraged. Given the historical importance of these films and their ethereal beauty, there is NO excuse for a haphazard release like this. The price is too high for a barebones disc without any significant digital restoration (I'm also angry that a box set wasn't released as well at a lower price point. How many will be buying Aparajito without the other two parts of the trilogy???) And not even a friggin' LINER NOTE?? SHAMEFUL

The real crime is, if CTHE thought so little of these films (& priced them so they wouldn't sell well), why not license them to a company like Criterion that could have turned this release into something special?

Some people--expecting sparkling transfers of restored elements--had been speculating that the higher price would be justified when we finally saw the finished product. WRONG. I would recommend cancelling any pre-orders & ordering the Artificial Eye release (& a cheap CyberHome player if you need it). It's a true, integrated box set, has wonderful extras, and a picture quality that's at least no worse than the R1 CTHE release. I got mine for about $65 thru Amazon UK (shipping included)--just slightly more than you'd pay for just TWO of the R1 releases at full retail ($29.95 each).


#16 of 41 OFFLINE   Ted Todorov

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Posted October 22 2003 - 02:20 PM

Quote:
Frankly, I can't imagine the market having much of a demand for Ray films. We're pretty lucky Columbia/Tri-Star is even putting them out to begin with. Let's face it, the market for 50 year old Indian films is pretty small, why would they dump 100 large into the restoration of those films when they have decent versions at their fingertips?

Good grief...I think some people are getting a bit too picky with DVD's.

You're about to be able to own Satyajit Ray's trilogy in R1 NTSC... why bitch??
You must be joking! We are VERY unlucky that Columbia is putting these out instead of licensing them to Criterion or another company that actually cares. Small market??? These are amongst the greatest movies ever made. A properly done Criterion box would be a best seller by their standards.

There is NO excuse for burnt in subs, or for something that looks like those screencaps Gary posted. I saw The World of Apu at the Film Forum quite recently and the print was beautiful -- what did Columbia use for a source -- an old VHS tape? This is an out and out disgrace.

I really wish that studios like Columbia would stop desecrating classic and art films and license the stuff that they clearly neither understand nor appreciate to a company that does. Then they can go back to polishing their Charlie's Angels superbit DVDs.

In the mean time, do yourself a favor and follow Brian's advice -- get the Artificial Eye DVDs.

Ted
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#17 of 41 OFFLINE   Mark Walker

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Posted October 22 2003 - 02:35 PM

Columbia just seems to get worse and worse.

I just picked up their "Queen Margot" on DVD, which
finally had the price come down, and it is not even anamorphic and the title was released less
than six months ago.

The Apu films are "important" cinematic works, and I often have heard that many of today's most talented directors look to them with great admiration.

If Columbia is going to treat these films with such low regard, they should allow Criterion a crack at them.

Note how different this is than the Dragonslayer on DVD situation. Yes, Paramount gave us a "barebones" DVD, but they did so with the best prints available, and at a much lower MSRP.

I think one could just say that Columbia is now about a good as Madacy (meaning not worth purchasing, unless you want VHS-like quality on DVD), which is a shame, because even Madacy knows to price their titles under $10.


Mark

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#18 of 41 OFFLINE   SteveGon

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Posted October 22 2003 - 05:24 PM

Quote:
But quite a few Satyajit Ray films were partially restored and preserved in or around 1995 by the director James Ivory and producer Ishmail Merchant.

In or around (maybe a year or two later) that time Columbia/Tri-star issued a VHS version of the APU TRILOGY and JALSAGHAR and up to that point it was the best looking I had ever seen Ray.

I picked up that VHS boxed set awhile back (didn't expect R1 DVDs so soon). Looks like I may as well stick with those. Posted Image

Quote:
Maybe some people that have reservations about purchasing it sight unseen

I bought the VHS set sight unseen - I'm glad I did. Posted Image (great movies)

#19 of 41 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 22 2003 - 10:16 PM

The original negatives for these films no longer exist. But there are restoration negatives and some beautiful prints out there and with a little digital clean up you could make great high-def down-conversion transfers to DVD. But it looks like Columbia just threw these together in an uncaring fashion.

How much foreign films have Columbia released on DVD so far? I can't think of any.


Gordy


#20 of 41 OFFLINE   Gary Tooze

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Posted October 22 2003 - 11:04 PM

Quote:
How much foreign films have Columbia released on DVD so far? I can't think of any.
Hmmm... The Scent of Green Papaya - but they pan and scanned it... HERE

All About My Mother - HERE

Atanajuart (if you consider that foreign) - HERE

The Road Home - HERE

The Vertical Ray of the Sun - HERE


are a few....

Cheers,



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