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Last of the Mohicans - Widescreen?


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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Michael Martin

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Posted July 01 2004 - 12:33 AM

Decided to pop in Michael Mann's frontier epic last night, and I initially went for my WS VHS copy - because I prefer the theatrical version. (Hate to miss a couple of my favorite lines that Mann took out of the second DVD release).

However, I noticed something odd about halfway through the film: in the scene where Hawkeye, Uncas and Chingachgook are talking to Colonel Munroe, I thought I saw pan and scan movement. The shot look oddly framed - about 1/4 of Hawkeye on the left and all of Uncas on the right.

I popped in the DVD, and sure enough, the DVD has both of them fully in the shot. I think it's chapter 11 or 12 (sorry, didn't write it down).

Part of me was shocked - a movie sold as widescreen and "preserving the original presentation" of the film still had pan and scanning in it.

Is this unusual? Are there DVDs that claim to give the original presentation and yet have p&s?

"You know, God has some really weird kids, and I find it hard to be in their company most of the time."
--Paul "Bono" Hewson

#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted July 01 2004 - 01:30 AM

The widescreen VHS of Mohicans was presented at 1.85:1, partially cropping the 2.35:1 OAR. It's one of a small number of examples of a compromise that was experimented with briefly in the 90s as a way of reducing (but not eliminating) the cropping applied to 2.35:1 films without sacrificing a large chunk of the available resolution (which was already very limited with VHS). It's an experiment that became largely moot with the advent of 16:9-enhanced DVDs with their greater resolution.

A few other examples from that era are the very first widescreen LD of La Femme Nikita, which was horrible for many reasons, and the very first LD of The Abyss.

Quote:
Are there DVDs that claim to give the original presentation and yet have p&s?

That's a different question. Certainly there are examples of DVDs that are mislabeled, and there are examples where the filmmakers have consciously decided to reformat the presentation for DVD so that it's different from what played in theaters. The latter usually leads to endless, ultimately fruitless (IMO) debate. Examples are The Recruit, Apocalypse Now and most Kubrick films (e.g., Eyes Wide Shut).

M.
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#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Michael Martin

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Posted July 01 2004 - 02:37 AM

Thanks for the info, Michael.

Looks like I'll have to scrounge to find the earlier release of Mohicans on DVD, as my VHS copy is pretty worn out, in addition to being the wrong AR! I think I remember reading that the initial release was not very good in regards to picture quality. Posted Image I don't understand why there hasn't been a kick-ass SE of this film - surely it deserves one!

"You know, God has some really weird kids, and I find it hard to be in their company most of the time."
--Paul "Bono" Hewson

#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted July 01 2004 - 03:37 AM

Quote:
Looks like I'll have to scrounge to find the earlier release of Mohicans on DVD

Not if you want the theatrical version. Both DVDs to date have the version that Michael Mann re-edited. The big difference between them is that the earlier version wasn't enhanced for 16:9, and the image was soft and blurry.

The only source I know of for the theatrical version in its OAR is laser disc. There were two LDs; the initial release had a stereo PCM track, while the later THX-certified version had an improved image and added DD 5.1.

Quote:
I don't understand why there hasn't been a kick-ass SE of this film - surely it deserves one!
For whatever reason, Mann didn't want any extras, not even a trailer.

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#5 of 12 OFFLINE   rutger_s

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Posted July 01 2004 - 03:55 AM

Last of The Mohicans was released back in Mann's "I don't extras to ruin the movie" days. So both DVDs were made under his supervision and as such have no extras & are his preferred cut.

If you really want the theatrical version and are multi-region capable, Warner has released it in the Australia with the theatrical cut and as an extra, the isolated score.

#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Michael Martin

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Posted July 01 2004 - 04:17 AM

I don't have multi-region capability.

Looks like I am screwed, unless an SE is ever done for the film.

Have to admit, I find Mann's attitude more than a bit perplexing and frustrating. Especially since every other one of his movies on DVD has at the very least a theatrical trailer included. Ali and Manhunter have director's cuts with multiple special features.

What gives?

"You know, God has some really weird kids, and I find it hard to be in their company most of the time."
--Paul "Bono" Hewson

#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Matt Pelham

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Posted July 01 2004 - 04:17 AM

I've noticed that as well. I don't actually think it's quite 1.85:1 though. I think it's closer to 2:1. You'll notice at beginning and end of the movie the correct 2.35:1 AR is shown, then it cuts to the MAR when the movie actually starts.

I remember the WS Star Wars Trilogy VHS tapes were slightly MAR'd as well, something like 2.20:1.

#8 of 12 OFFLINE   rutger_s

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Posted July 01 2004 - 05:36 AM

Quote:
Ali and Manhunter have director's cuts with multiple special features.

These were released AFTER Last of The Mohicans. Michael Mann has given in to providing and participating in special features for DVD.

Previously, Mann has okayed minimal extras without his inclusion in them. For example, the original Manhunter featurette does not have any new interviews with Mann.

Other directors have also dropped their staunchy "no extras" feelings as well.

#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Steven_M Grimes

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Posted July 01 2004 - 05:41 AM

Quote:
A few other examples from that era are the very first widescreen LD of La Femme Nikita, which was horrible for many reasons, and the very first LD of The Abyss.


Well, this isn't entirely correct. THE ABYSS was shot in Super-35 so the image was actually opened up a bit (in non-FX shots) from the 2.35:1 version.

#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted July 01 2004 - 06:23 AM

Quote:
Well, this isn't entirely correct.

What isn't correct? That The Abyss was a 2.35:1 film presented on LD (the first version) at 1.85:1 in order to minimize the loss of resolution? I was offering other examples of the experiment, without getting into the details of how the reformatting was achieved in any particular case.

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#11 of 12 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted July 01 2004 - 11:23 AM

Near the end of VHS's heyday Fox released several Widescreen films in gold clam shells. I have that copy of LotM, and it is in its full 2.35:1 AR.

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Richard_D_Ramirez

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Posted July 01 2004 - 12:17 PM

Quote:
Near the end of VHS's heyday Fox released several Widescreen films in gold clam shells. I have that copy of LotM, and it is in its full 2.35:1 AR.

After buying and watching the Director's Cut on DVD, I'm glad I never got rid of my "clam shell" copy of LotM. Mann really messed up the finality of Magua's fate in the DC....

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