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A few words about... Kingdom of Heaven - The Director's Cut


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#1 of 131 Robert Harris

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Posted May 20 2006 - 04:55 PM

While one can easily measure the difference between the original theatrical version and Fox DVD of Kingdom of Heaven as that of 144 minutes and the new Director's Cut at 194 minutes, one is left with only numbers.

50 Minutes.

The reality of the situation is that those 50 minutes measure the difference between a beautifully produced and skillfully directed adventure film and an epic masterpiece.

The Director's Cut of Sir Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven is the first film that I've viewed in many years that should be seen in theatres in a 70mm Roadshow blow-up format.

It tackles a thorny and difficult subject, while delivering throughful and intelligent entertainment.

And while the new DVD comes Extremely Highly Recommended, I find myself now waiting impatiently for Fox to deliver a High Definition version, hopefully as one of their early releases.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#2 of 131 Simon Howson

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Posted May 20 2006 - 07:13 PM

I got put off Ridley Scott's films after Gladiator, which I found at times to be edited in an incomprehensible fashion. I read the relevant A.C. mag article on that film, and the cinematographer (John Mathieson, same as for Kingdom of Heaven) was quoted as saying he shoots with lots of cameras because it means "Someone has got to be getting something good". I preferred the old days when composition, organisation, planning, and direction meant something. Anyone can make a film if they shoot enough footage, and have enough hard disc space to store and edit the footage...

This is especially sad, because Scott was such a great champion of filming in anamorphic, Alien and Blade Runner are great examples of that format, he even initially wanted to shoot Gladiator in anamorphic, but was talked out of it by Mathieson. Sadly his style became increasingly erratic when he started shooting films in Super 35. But I guess I shouldn't blame film makers for the filmmaking tools they use...

#3 of 131 Nkosi

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Posted May 20 2006 - 07:59 PM

I've been salivating to see Kingdom of Heaven Director's Cut, honestly since I saw the theatrical version. While good, it was obvious that scenes had been cut and total plot narratives omitted. When I received word that a longer cut was in existence I've eagerly waited in anticipation. My excitement only grew after reading numerous reviews of the D.C. online. I just got word today that my pre-order of the movie shipped and I literally can't wait to get my hands on this new DVD. I await a masterpiece. I really do. And I hold out hope to someday be able to see such a beautiful film in a theatrical release (maybe) but certainly is a HD release down the road!

#4 of 131 Jack _Webster

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Posted May 20 2006 - 11:55 PM

The theatrical cut was disappointing, but I've been aching to see the Director's Cut every since I found out what was cut out. I've yet to see anything less than a four star rating for this film.

Amazon says my order is getting ready to ship - and I picked One-Day Shipping - hopefully I'll get it tomorrow and I can relish in it a night early! Posted Image

#5 of 131 Frank@N

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Posted May 21 2006 - 02:46 AM

With HD already here, it seems silly to put out a 4-disc SD set for one movie.

Since the TC also tanked at theaters, why didn't Fox put out a more coherent cut on DVD the first time?

They could have sold it originally as a 2-disc and a 4-disc, which would have made more sense last year.

Sorry to be negative, but Fox seems to be moving in baby steps to recoup low box office (which was their fault to begin with for cutting the movie).

#6 of 131 Chuck Mayer

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Posted May 21 2006 - 02:51 AM

True, true, and true. But I'll take the DVD of the DC any way I can get it, and that's all that matters to me.
Hey buddy...did you just see a real bright light?

#7 of 131 David_Blackwell

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Posted May 21 2006 - 04:05 AM

I loved the Director's Cut DVD. It took me a while to get through it.
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#8 of 131 richardWI

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Posted May 21 2006 - 04:15 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank@N
With HD already here, it seems silly to put out a 4-disc SD set for one movie.


Not everyone has jumped on the HD bandwagon.

#9 of 131 Steve Schaffer

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Posted May 21 2006 - 10:03 AM

Besides which Fox is BD-only so we'd have to wait until mid-June just to get a player and then pay twice what the Toshiba costs.
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#10 of 131 Colin Jacobson

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Posted May 21 2006 - 10:25 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank@N
With HD already here, it seems silly to put out a 4-disc SD set for one movie.

Why is it that HD fans are acting like SD-DVD has the same audience of users as Beta?

HD has been adopted by VERY few people. SD is in use by millions and millions of people. It's gonna be a long time - if ever - before HD has a higher share.

It seems silly for studios to put all their resources into a tiny niche product and ignore the one with 10s of millions of users...
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#11 of 131 Aaron Reynolds

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Posted May 21 2006 - 10:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Howson
I got put off Ridley Scott's films after Gladiator, which I found at times to be edited in an incomprehensible fashion. I read the relevant A.C. mag article on that film, and the cinematographer (John Mathieson, same as for Kingdom of Heaven) was quoted as saying he shoots with lots of cameras because it means "Someone has got to be getting something good". I preferred the old days when composition, organisation, planning, and direction meant something. Anyone can make a film if they shoot enough footage, and have enough hard disc space to store and edit the footage...

This is especially sad, because Scott was such a great champion of filming in anamorphic, Alien and Blade Runner are great examples of that format, he even initially wanted to shoot Gladiator in anamorphic, but was talked out of it by Mathieson. Sadly his style became increasingly erratic when he started shooting films in Super 35. But I guess I shouldn't blame film makers for the filmmaking tools they use...

The format the film is produced in has nothing to do with poor editing. They're completely unrelated. The director of photography does not dictate how many cameras are used. He's a guy who comes in and the director says "I want it to look like this conceptual idea thingy" and he makes the nuts and bolts of it happen.

I also disliked Gladiator, and found it alternately dull and incomprehensible. However, I loved Kingdom of Heaven as it played theatrically. I'll certainly pick this up, but I'm a little concerned that it'll end up bloated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank@N
Sorry to be negative, but Fox seems to be moving in baby steps to recoup low box office (which was their fault to begin with for cutting the movie).

I don't believe that Fox at any point took this film away from Ridley Scott and cut it. As I understood it, there was a contractually obligated running time maximum, and Scott cut the film to conform to this. If he knew from the outset that his film was going to run overlong (and he had to know from timing the script), then he also knew from the outset that he'd be cutting it for the original presentation and then releasing the long version on DVD afterwards.

I would blame the poor box office on the way the film was marketed. I thought the trailer was dreadful and went into the film expecting the worst -- but I had three hours to kill and it was the only movie that started and ended at the right time. Luckily, I was blown away by it.

#12 of 131 Aaron Reynolds

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Posted May 21 2006 - 10:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Howson
and the cinematographer (John Mathieson, same as for Kingdom of Heaven) was quoted as saying he shoots with lots of cameras because it means "Someone has got to be getting something good".

Simon, you've presented the quote in an exceptionally dishonest way. Here's the actual passage:

Quote:
Having a large arsenal of up to seven cameras at a time allowed Mathieson and Scott to operate periodically, along with A-camera operator Peter Taylor and Steadicam operator Klemens Becker. "Peter’s very good at handheld work; he kind of floats along," Mathieson testifies. "Klemens’s Steadicam work is very elegant and precise. In those [multi-camera] situations, I was thinking, ’Someone has got to be getting something good."

There's no "because" there -- it's not even implied.

#13 of 131 Simon Howson

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Posted May 21 2006 - 05:37 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Reynolds
The format the film is produced in has nothing to do with poor editing. They're completely unrelated.
I think accelerated editing can be related to multiple camera shooting, and adjacently to Super 35.

It is easier to shoot with multiple cameras when shooting in Super 35 because it is easier to get large sets of spherical, rather than anamorphic lenses. The more cameras that shoot each scene the more footage is accumulated, computer based editing makes it easier to edit this footage, and often results in editors feeling compelled to include shots from every angle, which increases editing rates. Also, computer editing has made inserting very brief shots 'free' because you don't lose any frames on a work print.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Reynolds
The director of photography does not dictate how many cameras are used.
I strongly disagree with this, how many cameras may be required to cover a scene is primarily the responsibility of the cinematographer. They are the person that orders the equipment, and must know what they need. In the case of Mathieson, it seems he prefers to shoot with as many cameras as possible, because he feels it ensures they capture good footage. He prefers the Super 35 format because it makes it more practical for him to use light weight cameras and spherical zooms so that he can quickly select the best position for the camera.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Reynolds
He's a guy who comes in and the director says "I want it to look like this conceptual idea thingy" and he makes the nuts and bolts of it happen.
This is an overly simplified explanation of a cinematographer's role...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Reynolds
Simon, you've presented the quote in an exceptionally dishonest way.
Oh, so sorry, he was thinking (hoping?) he would "get something good". I made a mistaking in proposing that he knew that shooting with multiple cameras would allow him to "get something good". I see how I misrepresented him - I proposed that he had more control than what he really felt, which of course, just further emphasises my point that composition in contemporary Hollywood cinema is very imprecise, scenes are not organised as carefully constructed shot to shot sequences. Rather, footage is accumulated by multiple camera shooting, and the film is constructed as a sometimes incoherent montage in post.

I prefer the older, studio style, when as someone like Minnelli would say, "the scene was pulled through one camera". Just my opinion of course...

Anyway, I've hijacked this thread enough. I'm happy to write more about this over PM.

#14 of 131 willyTass

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Posted May 21 2006 - 07:40 PM

Gee what a tough crowd we have here! Maybe I'm dumb but I thought Gladiator was magnificent & that Kingdom Of Heaven Fox edition was poor. Like many can't wait to see the DC of KOH

#15 of 131 AlexCremers

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Posted May 21 2006 - 08:27 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Howson
I got put off Ridley Scott's films after Gladiator, which I found at times to be edited in an incomprehensible fashion. I read the relevant A.C. mag article on that film, and the cinematographer (John Mathieson, same as for Kingdom of Heaven) was quoted as saying he shoots with lots of cameras because it means "Someone has got to be getting something good". I preferred the old days when composition, organisation, planning, and direction meant something. Anyone can make a film if they shoot enough footage, and have enough hard disc space to store and edit the footage...

This is especially sad, because Scott was such a great champion of filming in anamorphic, Alien and Blade Runner are great examples of that format, he even initially wanted to shoot Gladiator in anamorphic, but was talked out of it by Mathieson. Sadly his style became increasingly erratic when he started shooting films in Super 35. But I guess I shouldn't blame film makers for the filmmaking tools they use...


Everyone may say Scott is a visual genius but nothing touches the cinematography and set composition of Alien and Blade Runner. Only in those two films Scott has managed to create real living characters out of their respective decors to the point that they were no longer sets.

Alex

#16 of 131 Simon Howson

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Posted May 21 2006 - 08:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexCremers
Everyone may say Scott is a visual genius but nothing touches the cinematography and set composition of Alien and Blade Runner. Only in those two films Scott has managed to create real living characters out of their respective decors to the point that they were no longer sets.

Alex
Well yeah! That was the point I was trying to make, but with reference to technology, and contemporary production practices.

I don't think Ridley Scott has surpassed his late 70s and early 80s films.

I'll have to give the D.C. of Kingdom of Heaven a look though.

#17 of 131 Elijah Sullivan

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Posted May 21 2006 - 09:52 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexCremers
Everyone may say Scott is a visual genius but nothing touches the cinematography and set composition of Alien and Blade Runner. Only in those two films Scott has managed to create real living characters out of their respective decors to the point that they were no longer sets.

I'm going to agree with this, and add that the cinematography and set composition are featured less because they are no longer the primary focus of Scott's movies. He tended to linger on those things in the past - he's a more motivated storyteller, now.

As for this silly Super-35 debate... Posted Image... I can see everyone's point, and I do suspect that "too much footage = overbaked editing". However, at the most simple level the choice to shoot 35mm was merely a technical decision, not an artistic one.

#18 of 131 Simon Howson

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Posted May 21 2006 - 10:41 PM

I think cinematography and production design are part of (film) story telling. I think shooting mountains of footage leads to over hyper editing, which ultimately does not assist good story telling.

It would be interesting to see which version is cut faster, the theatrical version or the director's cut...

#19 of 131 Aaron Reynolds

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Posted May 21 2006 - 11:13 PM

Quote:
It is easier to shoot with multiple cameras when shooting in Super 35 because it is easier to get large sets of spherical, rather than anamorphic lenses.

I'm not really sure that this is true -- the cameras end up being smaller and lighter, but I don't think they're any easier or harder to get. Rental houses stock what people want to rent, and if there were demand for a large number of matched anamorphic lenses, any halfway decent rental house would have 'em.

I agree, we're taking this in the wrong direction.

I disagree with Alex about Blade Runner in one important way -- the characters are very weak in that film. It is a triumph of design and visuals, but it's a miserable failure in terms of storytelling, in my opinion. I'll agree that Ridley Scott's recent work has been far from his best, but I thought that Kingdom of Heaven was a return to form for him (and I didn't feel it was as hyperactive as some of his other recent work).

I do agree with you about planning and appreciating a thoroughly well-thought out film -- but Ridley Scott gives the impression of being a seat-of-his-pants filmmaker and always has. I think that the difference with films like Alien and Blade Runner was in his budgetary and set constraints, requiring him to do a lot more pre-visualizing. Now that he has freed himself from that constraint, his work has suffered. (Again, I feel Kingdom of Heaven is an exception to this.)

Filmmaking, like so many other arts, is often shaped by its constraints, and the best work comes from innovative solutions.

In the interests of re-tracking -- what's included in this set? I have the DVD of the theatrical version, though I haven't watched much of the supplements yet because I keep leaving it at my wife's grandparents' house. I need to decide if this'll be an attempted rental or a blind buy.

#20 of 131 oscar_merkx

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Posted May 21 2006 - 11:22 PM

good toknow that almost an hour will be reinserted.

Liam Neeson was good in the TC, so having more screen time is always great
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