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Why are Universal re-issuing Friedkin's "Sorcerer" on Feb. 8th?


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#1 of 40 Gordon McMurphy

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Posted January 25 2005 - 10:28 AM

http://www.amazon.co....v=glance&s=dvd

The cover and specs are the same as the previous edition; what gives?

The old debate about the aspect ratio is still confounding, as all of Friedkin's films on DVD are in anamorphic 1.85:1; this film, of course has never had a widescreen release and the previous DVD transfer was pretty awful.

This is a flawed film, but has some superb moments and I'd love to hear a Friedkin commentary some day.

Does anyone have any info on this re-release, if it is indeed happening?


#2 of 40 SteveGon

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Posted January 25 2005 - 10:43 AM

Could just be a price reduction, but I don't recall the previous MSRP as I bought my copy cheap and used (and didn't realize it was fullscreen). I would love to see a widescreen release of Sorcerer.

Not surprisingly, it's a Universal release.

#3 of 40 Gordon McMurphy

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Posted January 25 2005 - 11:41 AM

No, the MSRP is the same as before; $14.98.

It's probably just a listing error.


#4 of 40 Sean Richardson

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Posted January 26 2005 - 03:46 AM

For a while, the disc was coming up on E-bay and Amazon as OOP, so it's possible that they're just putting the same disc back in print (which is good, I suppose, even if it is fullscreen with no features; better to be in print than out). I've heard Friedkin wanted it in fullscreen, dunno if that's true or just justifying the bad release.

#5 of 40 Scott Kimball

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Posted January 26 2005 - 04:04 AM

Of course, you could always opt for the original: "Wages of Fear"

A great film and the DVD is from Criterion...

I like "Sorcerer" too, but I've been waiting for a quality release. Probably be waiting for awhile.

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#6 of 40 Andre Bijelic

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Posted January 26 2005 - 05:19 AM

"Sorcerer" was originally a Universal/Paramount co-production. Does anyone know if Paramount has put together a decent version of this film in another region?
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#7 of 40 walter o

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Posted January 26 2005 - 07:30 AM

when this was issued on LD, Friedkin did say he prefered this film on fullscreen, despite much cropping (it looked like it was shot full 1:85 without matting when i compared the LD with the old cable airing, as the cable airng had more picture info but squeezed ). it would be nice if they put the overture back in though.

#8 of 40 Felix Martinez

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Posted January 26 2005 - 03:03 PM

I love the original Wages of Fear, but I adore Sorcerer. As ugly as the current transfer is, it actually works for the film. It's one of those productions that every few scenes makes you go: "how'd they get that on film??" I also love the pacing, the music. And I don't know how the hell they got away with a PG on this one!

#9 of 40 Keith Paynter

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Posted January 26 2005 - 04:07 PM

Quote:
it looked like it was shot full 1:85


Sorcerer was shot for 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I never saw the original, but I ran a 16mm anamorphic print for our University film program back in the early 80's.

[c]Posted Image

Posted Image
[/c]

The opening credit sequence is squeezed. That's usually a giveaway. The simulated unsqueezed image on the right more closely resembles the logo on the cover art.

Sometimes anamorphic films will be cheated for full-frame video by using some slight squeezing to get more L/R information into the 4:3 frame. If the actors look like Twiggy, that's your clue - prime example, Little Darlings uses this full-framing technique.
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#10 of 40 Mark Edward Heuck

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Posted January 26 2005 - 08:46 PM

Don't be so sure on that theory. When 1.85 feature films are reduced to 16mm prints, often times they are "adapted scope," so that the movie is presented without dead space top and bottom, as it would be were it transferred from an unmatted 1.33 image. Sometimes, the filmmaker shoots 1.85 in a "hard matte" anyhow (such as ALIENS), and there is no dead space to open up, so rather than push into the image and increase the grain, the reduction will be converted to scope.

Here's an example: Michael Ritchie's comedy AN ALMOST PERFECT AFFAIR was released on VHS by Paramount in a squeezed transfer, leading me to think it was shot 2.35. But the DVD is presented at 1.85. I did a test, running both the tape and DVD in sync, and there was no missing picture information in either copy: Paramount had used a 16mm adapted scope source for the old tape transfer.

Thus, I suspect that SORCERER may have some of the same inherent transfer quirks. Viewing the film on laserdisc (which is likely the exact same transfer for the DVD), I noticed a slight amount of pan-scanning, but not enough to denote a scope release. IIRC, Friedkin abstained from scope most of his career for the same reasons Scorsese did, fearing how bad the transfer would look on video, and only with the advent of Super 35 technology did they begin to shoot wider films. (So far, Friedkin made only RULES OF ENGAGEMENT in scope)
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#11 of 40 Fredric

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Posted January 27 2005 - 01:19 AM

Funny, I had heard somewhere that Sorcerer was 1.66:1. Just wanted to darken the mud a little. Posted Image

Sorcerer blew me away, BTW, so a new transfer in the correct aspect ratio with a commentary by Friedkin talking as much as possible about how "the movie god" shined on him (actually I hear it was a pretty cursed project) would be a welcome DVD release here.
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#12 of 40 Keith Paynter

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Posted January 27 2005 - 04:12 AM

Upon further examination with the DVD's theatrical trailer, it appears the picture more closely resembles 1.85 hard matte.

Quote:
Sometimes, the filmmaker shoots 1.85 in a "hard matte" anyhow (such as ALIENS),

Aliens wasn't shot hard matte - it was shot full frame Super35, which reduces lighting artifacts (such as oval headlight glare) and grain composition vs anamorphic lenses.

If you have the Sorcerer DVD look at the image of the carving that opens the flat trailer and compare it to the squeezed version that opens the film. Oddly enough, the idol image in the trailer looks more open matte, but the extracted frame of the print (bad as the transfer may be), adjusted for poor light, may indicate that the theatrical prints may have been hard matted. It's just too bad that this could not be presented better to get a proper perspective.

Posted Image

Come to think of it, the 16mm anamorphic print could have been a reduction from a 70mm presentation. I had the same thing occur with a print of "Apocalypse Now" - the 16mm anamorphic print was a reduction of the 70mm presentation (complete with credits over the filmed ending of the Kurtz compound as shown as a DVD supplement!)
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#13 of 40 Gordon McMurphy

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Posted January 27 2005 - 08:30 AM

From Roger Avary's Website:

"We were treated to a new print of William Friedkin's incredible, and underappreciated, masterpiece "Sorcerer" -- with the director there to answer questions and discuss the production afterward. Friedkin has long been one of my idols, and as it turns out the last time he saw the film projected was 20 years ago -- and I was at that screening as well! We discussed all phases from the production, from Walon Green's incredible and loving adaptation, to how they did the famous bridge sequence (cables, hydraulics, and flood-gates to compensate for historical drought levels in the river), to the casting of Roy Scheider when Steve McQueen dropped out, to the casting of real mob guys and recreations of an actual robbery in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to the documentary-like shooting style to extract performances from locals, to capturing the actual aftermath of a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem -- seconds after it happened. Friedkin was candid and charismatic. To me, "Sorcerer" is one of the finest films ever made, and certainly the best remake of all time (though, according to Friedkin it is really a re-adaptation of the source material -- but I can feel the love of the original within it, and that's one of the things I love about it). To my mind, "Sorcerer" was the canary in the coal mine to 70's filmmaking. It is exactly what you should do on the heels of two box office monsters like "The French Connection" and "The Excorcist". And despite it's failure at the box office, and the embarrassing critical reception that was given to this misunderstood masterpiece, this film endures as one of the most prescient indictments of corporate greed that America has ever produced. When this film failed, so too did we as a society. It is the high water mark for the American conscience in cinema (although "The Beast", directed in top form by Kevin Reynolds, is right up there). I asked Friedkin about the trucks, which I used to visit for years next to the Red Sea at Universal Studios. The last time I had a meeting there, I went to visit and they had been removed and replaced by a little fake park -- probably sent to the scrap heap. We also discussed the choice to only release a full frame format of the film on DVD. To my horror, I realized that it is actually a pan & scan version of the film, not full frame. Friedkin, like my mother, thinks that he's losing real estate on his television when he includes the 1.85 matting. I also spoke at great length with Tony Kaye, who seemed relieved to find someone like me who comes across as more insane as he does. It was a splendid evening."
- 2004/05/02


I'm beginging to wonder if the film was maybe shot in Panavision at 2.35:1 or has a 1.85 hard-matte O-neg. As for Friedkin not shooting in anamorphic, wasn't Deal of the Century (1983) starring Chevy Chase - possibly his worst film - shot in Panavision?

I'm sure that Friedkin would endorse an anamorphic widescreen transfer today, as all his films on R1 DVD are in anamorphic widescreen. The Birthday Party is on R2 in 1.33, but that is just a cheap, lazy transfer from an independant distributor.

It's a Universal title, right? They should lend it to Criterion and they could create a boxed set of The Wages of Fear (with a new transfer - the current transfer isn't that great for a Criterion) and Sorcerer and add new extras to both, including a Friedkin commentary. It's maybe worth asking John Mulvaney about this: www.criterionco.com/asp/ask_form.asp


#14 of 40 Kevin M

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Posted January 27 2005 - 08:53 AM

Quote:
They should lend it to Criterion and they could create a boxed set of The Wages of Fear (with a new transfer - the current transfer isn't that great for a Criterion) and Sorcerer and add new extras to both, including a Friedkin commentary.

Boy there's an idea I can get behind.


Roger Avary has always been a very vocal supporter of this film, and he earned quite a few points in my book when, in his commentary for Day Of The Dead, he mentioned the quality of Sorcerer's soundtrack music which I agree is one of the most underrated soundtracks out there and one of the best (IMO) soundtracks that Tangerine Dream ever did.

Quote:
To my horror, I realized that it is actually a pan & scan version of the film, not full frame. Friedkin, like my mother, thinks that he's losing real estate on his television when he includes the 1.85 matting.

I also hope he has changed his mind about this as technology has improved the resolution of home video considerably since it's first "director approved" LD incarnation back in...what was it, 1990? 1991? Things had even improved for LD in the years afterwards but much more so for modern DVD authoring.
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#15 of 40 Damin J Toell

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Posted January 27 2005 - 12:22 PM

Quote:
I'm sure that Friedkin would endorse an anamorphic widescreen transfer today, as all his films on R1 DVD are in anamorphic widescreen.


Not Jade. And given Friedkin's opinion as of less than a year ago as reported by Avary, it doesn't look to me like he's suddenly ready to change his mind.

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#16 of 40 Mark Cappelletty

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Posted January 27 2005 - 12:42 PM

Yeah, I interviewed Friedkin for IGN Movies back in 2000 with the Exorcist reissue and asked him about it. He insisted it was full-frame and not pan-and-scan. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one. At the time he was still very up in the air about To Live and Die in L.A. (rights issues holding it up), but that ended up working out.

I agree with Avary 100% about "Sorcerer," though. Really stunning and harrowing.

#17 of 40 walter o

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Posted January 27 2005 - 01:12 PM

and the vHS of JADE is longer than the DVD!

#18 of 40 Mark Edward Heuck

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Posted January 27 2005 - 09:23 PM

I suspect that Friedkin must have mellowed to some degree on the insistence on full-frame transfers, because we now indeed have beautiful and properly framed discs of THE EXORCIST, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., with his participation (i.e., he is not withholding his support in protest of the decision to letterbox). Letterboxed transfers of his other films should follow according to the studios' perceived demand for the titles.
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#19 of 40 Fredric

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Posted January 28 2005 - 06:48 AM

Great thread. I wish there were more like this on this forum, instead of "Which version of Armageddon should I get?" Friedkin and Lumet are right up there with Frankenheimer, in my book. And then there's Huston and Welles. Great directors with vision are hard to come by nowadays.
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#20 of 40 Gordon McMurphy

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Posted January 28 2005 - 08:48 AM

I couldn't agree more, Fredric. The filmmakers you mention are firm favourites of mine, also. They had vision, they had talent and they had balls.

I'm reading Andre De Toth's, Fragments: Portraits from the Inside, which has to be one the best memoirs from a filmmaker ever written. De Toth is never mentioned among the greats, but he was a absoultely 100% fearless filmmaker - a true renegade. His life is one of the most extraordinary, hilarious and inspring of any filmmaker. He cut a great image too, with his height and famous eyepatch. Huston's life and attitude towards filmmaking was similar, also, but Huston had more 'hits'.

Friedkin, in his younger days was following that path. The Birthday Party is underrated and The French Connection's blend of toughness and humour have never been matched. I used to dislike The Exorcist, but after many years and much occult reading, as well as acquiring a wider appreciation of Cinema, I realised that it is indeed a masterpiece on it's own terms. Sorcerer is one of the most unforgiving films ever made. It's such an audacious film. At the very least, it matches Clouzot's masterful, evergreen original.

Fearless filmmakers who made risky films on their owns terms. How many are there today?



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