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HTF DVD REVIEW: How the West Was Won: Ultimate Collector's Edition



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#41 of 209 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted September 01 2008 - 07:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson
It's business; Warners have a policy and we'll no doubt see more of it. Ultimately, the consumer will decide.
You're right! From my point of view, I don't have a problem with what Warner is doing with the regular dvd. However, for the ultimate edition and at that price point I think Warner is wrong not including that feature despite what they're trying to accomplish with Blu-ray.

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#42 of 209 OFFLINE   MikeGale

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Posted September 01 2008 - 08:40 AM

The fact is, watching HTWWW in ANY format other than Theatrical Cinerama is a compromise. Just accept the fact that there's no way can Smilebox or Letterbox or any existing home video presentation can possibly recreate the original experience, and live with it. Remember that Cinerama was a gimmick -- a fascinating gimmick, but a gimmick that didn't catch on. HTWWW was made to showcase this gimmick. As such, HTWWW was an interesting experiment, but was hardly a great movie. (Personally, I think some of it is pretty lame -- and I even thought so when I was 11 years old and actually saw it in Cinerama.) As an analogy, Hitchcock's "Rope" was an interesting experiment as well, and worth seeing to observe the experiment, but not a great movie either. So I'm looking forward to HTWWW for the commentary and to revisit David Strohmaier's outstanding documentary about the Cinerama process. Based on Ken's fine review, with these expectations, I'm certain I will find my purchase to be money well spent. Thanks, Ken!

#43 of 209 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted September 01 2008 - 09:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeGale
The fact is, watching HTWWW in ANY format other than Theatrical Cinerama is a compromise. Just accept the fact that there's no way can Smilebox or Letterbox or any existing home video presentation can possibly recreate the original experience, and live with it. Remember that Cinerama was a gimmick -- a fascinating gimmick, but a gimmick that didn't catch on. HTWWW was made to showcase this gimmick. As such, HTWWW was an interesting experiment, but was hardly a great movie. (Personally, I think some of it is pretty lame -- and I even thought so when I was 11 years old and actually saw it in Cinerama.) As an analogy, Hitchcock's "Rope" was an interesting experiment as well, and worth seeing to observe the experiment, but not a great movie either. So I'm looking forward to HTWWW for the commentary and to revisit David Strohmaier's outstanding documentary about the Cinerama process. Based on Ken's fine review, with these expectations, I'm certain I will find my purchase to be money well spent. Thanks, Ken!
I don't agree with your assessments of Rope and How the West Was Won. You under-estimate both films. I don't agree that Cinerama was a gimmick. I saw the restored film projected at the Arclight / Cinerama Dome several times, and it looked like a legitimate use of the cinematic language to me. Cinerama is more than a gimmick: it's a perfectly valid visual storytelling experience. The subject matter of HTWWW is big enough for Cinerama. Just the right size, in fact. Most Hollywood productions could use a lot more of what HTWWW has got in Cinerama.

You are correct in saying that home video does not duplicate the theatrical experience, but that is true of all films.

I wish to modify my statement in post 18: now that the smilebox option is perfected and available, Warner Home Video should retire the standard letterbox from broadcasting and DVD releases. Since the smilebox accurately represents the film, and the standard letterbox does not, there is no longer a reason to continue with the standard letterbox. The DVD package, although very nice, could have been easily reconfigured to accommodate the smilebox version. To re-issue the film in standard letterbox after going through all that trouble to restore it, smilebox it, and remove the dividing lines is a grievous lapse in judgment.

#44 of 209 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted September 01 2008 - 09:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeGale
The fact is, watching HTWWW in ANY format other than Theatrical Cinerama is a compromise. Just accept the fact that there's no way can Smilebox or Letterbox or any existing home video presentation can possibly recreate the original experience, and live with it. Remember that Cinerama was a gimmick -- a fascinating gimmick, but a gimmick that didn't catch on. HTWWW was made to showcase this gimmick. As such, HTWWW was an interesting experiment, but was hardly a great movie. (Personally, I think some of it is pretty lame -- and I even thought so when I was 11 years old and actually saw it in Cinerama.) As an analogy, Hitchcock's "Rope" was an interesting experiment as well, and worth seeing to observe the experiment, but not a great movie either. So I'm looking forward to HTWWW for the commentary and to revisit David Strohmaier's outstanding documentary about the Cinerama process. Based on Ken's fine review, with these expectations, I'm certain I will find my purchase to be money well spent. Thanks, Ken!
Yes, I have to disagree with you too about the HTWWW and Rope.





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#45 of 209 OFFLINE   john a hunter

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Posted September 01 2008 - 10:24 AM

[quote=MikeGale] Remember that Cinerama was a gimmick -- a fascinating gimmick, but a gimmick that didn't catch on. HTWWW was made to showcase this gimmick. As such, HTWWW was an interesting experiment, but was hardly a great movie. QUOTE]

It was Cinerama that ushered in widescreen photography with other less complicated processes such as Todd-AO, CinemaScope, etc. Nobody would surely argue that they were gimmicks -just more practicable examples of achieving a more natural image and which is now part of basic cinematic language.

I too saw HTWWW when orginally released. I don't think it was or is a great film but still a very good one.

One of my most memorable cinematic experiences was seeing it at the Casino Theatre in London to a packed house a day or two after its world premiere. At the end of the train wreck, the entire 1500 or so audience,let out at great sigh of relief and enjoyment in unison. Such was its impact.Not many films that I can recall can claim likewise.

#46 of 209 OFFLINE   Simon Howson

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Posted September 01 2008 - 11:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Crawford
It's all about growing the Blu-ray market by offering features that are not available on SD DVD.
I don't consider Smilebox an extra "feature", like say a documentary, or a commentary track. Smilebox is the proper way for 3 strip Cinerama films to be presented on any home video format. Did we actually believe the studios when they counted "widescreen presentation" as a special feature?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Crawford
You might not like it, but that's their strategy and even though it might not work on some consumers, it will push others to get into Blu-ray. It's the same reasoning behind Warner bailing on HD DVD so soon. They made a decision that to grow the HDM market, the need for only one format was necessary to make that happen.
I think Warner bailed on HD-DVD because consumers bailed on HD-DVD, and Warner didn't want to support a format that didn't have consumer support.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyFeldman
Blu-Ray may be the future, but a lot of people don't want to be shoved into it like this - forced to buy it or miss out on things like the Smilebox. It was consumers who put Warner Home Video on the map with DVDs and they should show a little respect for them. For now, I'm sure that some person at Warners realizes that Blu-Ray is a niche market akin to laserdiscs right now. It may grow, it may not, but there are millions of DVD consumers who are not ready to make the switch, no matter how better the quality.
I don't think blu-ray will take off until the U.S. economy starts growing quickly again. People just don't have disposable income to spend on a new home video format when the cost of housing and petrol (sorry, gas) is so high, and the chance of losing their job is high as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Crawford
You're right! From my point of view, I don't have a problem with what Warner is doing with the regular dvd. However, for the ultimate edition and at that price point I think Warner is wrong not including that feature despite what they're trying to accomplish with Blu-ray.
I don't understand what you mean "trying to accomplish with blu-ray", doesn't it make MORE business sense releasing the Smilebox version on DVD, because the install base of DVD is 10000 times that of blu-ray? Don't you try and release things in a format that people can actually buy and use?

#47 of 209 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted September 01 2008 - 01:50 PM

Quote:
I don't consider Smilebox an extra "feature", like say a documentary, or a commentary track. Smilebox is the proper way for 3 strip Cinerama films to be presented on any home video format. Did we actually believe the studios when they counted "widescreen presentation" as a special feature?
Evidently, Warner thinks differently.

Quote:
I think Warner bailed on HD-DVD because consumers bailed on HD-DVD, and Warner didn't want to support a format that didn't have consumer support.
Believe what you want, but I heard differently.

Quote:
I don't think blu-ray will take off until the U.S. economy starts growing quickly again. People just don't have disposable income to spend on a new home video format when the cost of housing and petrol (sorry, gas) is so high, and the chance of losing their job is high as well.
Well, Warner and the rest of the studios are banking that you're wrong and will try to induce further market penetration.

Quote:
I don't understand what you mean "trying to accomplish with blu-ray", doesn't it make MORE business sense releasing the Smilebox version on DVD, because the install base of DVD is 10000 times that of blu-ray? Don't you try and release things in a format that people can actually buy and use?
I think I've made myself clear as to what they're trying to accomplish and if I'm wrong then why isn't smilebox on the dvd version?

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#48 of 209 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted September 01 2008 - 02:17 PM

In the 80s and 90s i got "extras" like widescreen, digital sound, and commentaries on my LDs. Extras that tape guys didnt get. I paid a pretty penny for all that, and the best picture that could be delivered at that time. Blu-ray is the next step. Enjoy what you have, and feel free to cross over when the time is right for you. But once again, i paid a pretty penny, and i dont mind a perk or two with my Blu-ray.

#49 of 209 OFFLINE   David_B_K

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Posted September 01 2008 - 04:18 PM

Quote:
In the 80s and 90s i got "extras" like widescreen, digital sound, and commentaries on my LDs. Extras that tape guys didnt get. I paid a pretty penny for all that, and the best picture that could be delivered at that time. Blu-ray is the next step. Enjoy what you have, and feel free to cross over when the time is right for you. But once again, i paid a pretty penny, and i dont mind a perk or two with my Blu-ray.

I consider your LD/VHS comparison to DVD/Blu to be an apples to oranges comparison. Part of the reason those features were available first on LD and then DVD was due to the linear real-time nature of tape vs the random chapter/special feature access of LD and later DVD.

One can defend the studios' decision to withhold special features from DVD in an attempt to drive consumers ot Blu if one wishes. It may or may not pay off for them. But I do not consider the VHS comparison to be valid. One could access a special feature like a trailer, documentary, "making of" doc or commentary instantly on a LD or DVD. On a VHS, it would necessitate running the tape to the end, and would require extra tapes for the features, etc, which basically makes such extra features somewhat futile. And choosing multiple audio streams on VHS was close to impossible. The technology which made "extra features" a possibility on LD existed for DVD as well, though not for VHS.

As to whether it will pay off, i cannot say. I am not certain I am sold on "smilebox", but I would have liked to have seen it. I'm not getting a Blu-ray player for this movie, and am not buying the so-called UE if it is deficient in features; so in my case, this adds up to a "no sale". However, i accept that studios can do what they wish regardless of what I think.

#50 of 209 OFFLINE   GerardoHP

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Posted September 01 2008 - 04:55 PM

I don't know if this question has been asked or answered elsewhere and, if so, please forgive me. But, does the Blueray version include a non-Smilebox transfer of the film, or is it only Smilebox?

Thanks!
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#51 of 209 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted September 01 2008 - 05:20 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by GerardoHP
I don't know if this question has been asked or answered elsewhere and, if so, please forgive me. But, does the Blueray version include a non-Smilebox transfer of the film, or is it only Smilebox?

Thanks!

HTWWW Blu-ray will have a standard letterboxed version of the film as well as the Smilebox version. The Bd apparently contains all of the extras from the SD-DVD two disc set as well.
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#52 of 209 OFFLINE   Garysb

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Posted September 01 2008 - 05:48 PM

Aspect Ratio: 2.89:1


The image is going to be very small on a 32 inch or smaller TV screen.

Is this wider than the DVD of Ben-Hur ?

There is a 2 disc set SD release of this film without all the bells and whistles. Mostly just the film.
It is much cheaper than the Ultimate Edition and you get to see the restored film. It would seem that those unhappy that the smilebox version is not included in the Ultimate edition would be happier with this edition of this new dvd release.

http://www.amazon.co....0335120&sr=8-3

The wording says 2 disc. The picture of the DVD says 3 disc.

#53 of 209 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted September 01 2008 - 05:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garysb
Aspect Ratio: 2.89:1


The image is going to be very small on a 32 inch or smaller TV screen.

Is this wider than the DVD of Ben-Hur ?


For what it is worth ImDB shows Ben-Hur with an aspect ration of 2.76:1, so HTWWW is a bit wider.
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#54 of 209 OFFLINE   AdrianTurner

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Posted September 01 2008 - 06:41 PM

If I might add my tuppence worth . . . a fascinating discussion and typical for a forum of this sort. All about aspect ratios, and whether or not the studio is screwing us, about value for money, about exploiting our obsessive desires, and nothing or hardly anything about HTWWW as a movie, as a piece of entertainment, as a work of art, as a triptych with three directors, as an expression of America in the optimistic Kennedy era etc etc etc.

And on the subject of the Smilebox being unique to BluRay . . . isn't this really just a one-off, a unique set of circumstances, a CURVEball for both consumers and retailer?

#55 of 209 OFFLINE   Simon Howson

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Posted September 01 2008 - 08:04 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Crawford
Evidently, Warner thinks differently.
O rly!?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Crawford
why isn't smilebox on the dvd version?
Bad business decision making.

Repeating Warner's company line over and over doesn't mean it makes anymore sense than the first time I heard it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AdrianTurner
hardly anything about HTWWW as a movie, as a piece of entertainment, as a work of art, as a triptych with three directors, as an expression of America in the optimistic Kennedy
Discussions of film style and symptomatic criticism are off topic here.

#56 of 209 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted September 01 2008 - 09:32 PM

Quote:
Bad business decision making.

Repeating Warner's company line over and over doesn't mean it makes anymore sense than the first time I heard it.
Why did they make that so-called bad business decision?

Also, I have to buy my BRD online like everybody else so I don't know what you mean by repeating Warner's company line.



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#57 of 209 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted September 01 2008 - 10:05 PM

I'm as guilty as anyone here, but I can imagine how Ken feels now that his review thread has been just about trashed.

Shouldn't this discussion continue elsewhere?

My apologies Ken.
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#58 of 209 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted September 01 2008 - 11:27 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson
I'm as guilty as anyone here, but I can imagine how Ken feels now that his review thread has been just about trashed.

Shouldn't this discussion continue elsewhere?

My apologies Ken.
Actually there isn't much left to talk about besides the review now because "it is what it is" and nothing is going to change these releases now.






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#59 of 209 OFFLINE   RolandL

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Posted September 02 2008 - 05:46 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken_McAlinden
They have some interesting information on Cinerama audio presentations in the Cinerama Adventure documentary. There were apparently some Cinerama presentations where they used a live mixer during the showing of a film who would make adjustments to the audio based on things like whether the audience had winter or summer clothes. One other practice from early Cinerama presentations that was probably less common by the time How the West Was Won was released was that the side "surround" channels would be manually steered by a live mixer, sending the information to the left, right, or both channels.

Regards,

3-strip Cinerama had 7 tracks of sound. Five channels behind the screen and the other two the left and right side wall speakers. There was a switch that could send the sixth channel to both side wall speakers and the seventh to the rear speakers.

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#60 of 209 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted September 02 2008 - 01:57 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson
I'm as guilty as anyone here, but I can imagine how Ken feels now that his review thread has been just about trashed.

Shouldn't this discussion continue elsewhere?

My apologies Ken.
I was thinking the same thing, but wanted to keep my head down until the shells stopped flying. Perhaps we could start one thread with the DVD paranoid conspiracy theorists pointing to the presence of an outstanding letterboxed presentation and the lack of smilebox as definitive proof that Warner is out to get them and a second thread for the Blu-Ray paranoid conspiracy theorists pointing out how Warner last week released 10 classic westerns in two box sets exclusive to SD DVD as definitive proof that Warner is not supporting them. Posted Image

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