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The Last Emperor on Blu-ray


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#1 of 117 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted August 15 2008 - 12:14 PM

Well it should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the saga of Criterion's release of The Last Emperor on DVD that their announcement of their new Blu-ray release of TLE also carried the controversial 2:1 aspect ratio--approved by Director Bernardo Bertolucci and Director of Photography Vittorio Storaro.

THIS HTF thread in the SD Software section carries a spirited debate on the issue of Bertolucci and Storaro re-cropping a film that was originally presented 2.35:1.

As I said in that other thread...The Last Emperor probably contains some of the most strikingly beautiful images I've ever seen in a film. I think it's a shame that the Director & DP have allowed this film to be cropped down to a smaller version of it's original size. While I realize "it's their film," I wish the original ratio could have been presented as well somehow. Upon learning Storaro's theories in the information provided in that other thread, I can't say I go along with someone who is an acknowledged film genius. But, that's me.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#2 of 117 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted August 15 2008 - 10:05 PM

It is what it is. You always have the choice to not purchase the release.

"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


#3 of 117 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted August 15 2008 - 11:22 PM

Very true and since the filmmakers signed off on it, I'll probably buy it. Crawdaddy

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#4 of 117 OFFLINE   Shawn.F

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Posted August 16 2008 - 01:59 AM

As will I. God only knows when and if an edition of the film in its full 2.35:1 ratio will hit Blu-ray. I love the film far too much not to have it in the collection.

#5 of 117 OFFLINE   Jim_K

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Posted August 16 2008 - 02:15 AM

While I had no intention of picking this up either way (TLE is a quality film but not one I need to own) it's unfortunate that Storaro is continuing to crop his films for home video.

This squashes my hope that I'll ever get a proper theatrical AR release of Apocalypse Now when it comes to Blu-ray. Posted Image
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#6 of 117 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted August 16 2008 - 02:28 AM

Strike the word probably.
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#7 of 117 OFFLINE   Jeff Adkins

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Posted August 16 2008 - 04:41 AM

I only wish they would have included the longer version just as a bonusDVD. I would be happy with SD on that one rather than none at all. I held off on the DVD set because I knew a BD version would come eventually.

#8 of 117 OFFLINE   Peter Neski

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Posted August 16 2008 - 06:36 AM

While it was years ago,I remember the print of the Film I saw looking better than the Print of "Reds" I saw.This is not the case in Home Video "Reds" is much closer to the Storaro "perfect" Presention I got use to seeing in the Theatre, The Pal version is 2.35:1 so you don't have to get the Criteron one ,if you want to see the film without the cropping. But all versions aren't what I aspect from a newly remastered "Storaro"Flim,"Reds" ,"Tucker",Agatha,The Sheltering Sky,Luna,and even the cropped A.N. all have better transfers Maybe I am remebering it wrong,But I don't remember it looking like The Criteron Standard DVD

#9 of 117 OFFLINE   Reagan

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Posted August 16 2008 - 07:01 AM

I could understand this practice (but didn't like it) in laserdisc days. I could also understand it for a non-anamorphic DVD. But I detest it in the era of the anamorphic DVD and HD where the vertical resolution is designed for a 16:9 TV. -R
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#10 of 117 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted August 16 2008 - 07:10 AM

Just to be clear: Does Storaro favor the 2:1 ratio because he thinks video resolution is too limited, or has he decided he now prefers that ratio for ALL showings of his "scope" films?

#11 of 117 OFFLINE   Vincent_P

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Posted August 16 2008 - 09:27 AM


It can't be ALL of his 'Scope films, because Blue Underground version of THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE was supposed to have been supervised by Storaro and it's 2.35:1.

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#12 of 117 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted August 16 2008 - 09:30 AM

Well, that just makes his attitude that much more mystifying and frustrating. Posted Image

#13 of 117 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted August 16 2008 - 10:47 AM


Robert: Here, in Storaro's own words, are his thoughts on the subject. It is an interesting but frustrating read. I see it as his own determined push to create a new "standard" in aspect ratio of 2:1. So he now posits that The Last Emperor was actually composed with a 2:1 aspect ratio in mind.

Here is more on Univision from Wikipedia.

I'm a little surprised that some here are okay with the change simply because the filmmakers have signed off on it. The cropping would seem to be a real case of revisionism in order to prove a point (or maybe sell a concept).

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#14 of 117 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted August 16 2008 - 11:10 AM

The creator is king in my book. Sometimes it bothers me more than other times, but it's a consistent principle. Obviously, if a film has multiple versions I'd love to have all available for the consumer. When such isn't the case I simply evaluate whether I'll make the purchase on a case by case basis. In this case it simply doesn't bother me enough to no purchase the disc and enjoy the film.

"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


#15 of 117 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted August 16 2008 - 11:21 AM

If anyone wants to see what the difference looks like...DVD Beaver put up this comparison of the Artisan, the Region 2 release, the Criterion SD theatrical release and the Criterion SD TV release.

It features images such as these:

GCTHV (R2) release:
Posted Image
Criterion (R1) SD theatrical release:
Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#16 of 117 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted August 16 2008 - 12:32 PM

that's striking to see that again. an entire portion of the left side of the image is lost. including an entire building. while the right side is mostly unscathed.
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#17 of 117 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted August 16 2008 - 03:05 PM

It's even more problematic when people get sawed in two on the left side of the screen, and I remember those jarring compositions a couple of times in the film when I reviewed it some months ago.

#18 of 117 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted August 16 2008 - 03:34 PM

Ugh. That's a substantial difference. I think you're right. He's simply pushing for a unified 2:1 standard, which he thinks is "ideal".

#19 of 117 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted August 16 2008 - 03:45 PM

Yet there are those who will say "that's fine" because two of the filmmakers say it's okay. And yet, as one example, I don't know of too many people who are happy when the Disney company edits its material to eliminate scenes of smoking or racism. It may be a bit of a stretch of a comparison, yet it seems to all head down the same path--changes made to the originally-presented material to fit a new agenda of the filmmakers.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#20 of 117 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted August 16 2008 - 03:51 PM


And don't just go by those two images. The others from Gary Tooze demonstrate similar dramatic shifts in composition.

The colors look sooooooo much nicer...it would be great to have them across the entire image.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon





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