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Criterion's January release of Magnificent Obsession: all good news


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#1 of 167 OFFLINE   Thomas T

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Posted October 15 2008 - 04:52 PM

The good news is that they will include the 1935 version as a bonus, the (possible) bad news is that the 1954 film will be released (according to Criterion's site) at 1:33. Let the OAR debate begin!

#2 of 167 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted October 15 2008 - 06:32 PM

Wait a couple days. Criterion's spec info is not always accurate when first posted on their website.

Of course, if it turns out to be 1.33:1, they'll have very good reasons for it.

"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 167 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted October 15 2008 - 06:59 PM

Details on all Criterion and Eclipse releases for January 2009, courtesy of criterion.com

The Taking of Power by Louis XIV - Spine #456
Dir. by Roberto Rossellini

Posted Image

Filmmaking legend Roberto Rossellini brings his passion for realism and unerring eye for the everyday to this portrait of the early years of the reign of France’s “Sun King,” and in the process reinvents the costume drama. The death of chief minister Cardinal Mazarin, the construction of the palace at Versailles, the extravagant meals of the royal court: all are recounted with the same meticulous quotidian detail that Rossellini brought to his contemporary portraits of postwar Italy. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV dares to place a larger-than-life figure at the level of mere mortal.

Special Features

* - New, restored digital transfer
* - Taking Power, a multimedia essay by Tag Gallagher, author of The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini
* - The Last Utopia, a documentary about Rossellini’s late career
* - Video interview with artistic advisor Jean Dominique de la Rochefoucauld and script supervisor Michelle Podroznik
* - Video interview with Renzo Rossellini
* - New and improved English subtitle translation
* - PLUS: A new essay by critic Colin McCabe

Film Info
1966
100 minutes
Color
1.33:1
Dolby Digital Mono 1.0
Not Anamorphic
French

Magnificent Obsession - Spine #457
Dir. by Douglas Sirk

Posted Image

Reckless playboy Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson, in his breakthrough role) crashes his speedboat, requiring emergency attention from the town’s only resuscitator—at the very moment that beloved local Dr. Phillips has a heart attack and dies waiting for the life-saving device. Thus begins one of Douglas Sirk’s most flamboyant master classes in melodrama, a delirious Technicolor mix of the sudsy and the spiritual in which Bob and the doctor’s widow, Helen (Jane Wyman), find themselves inextricably linked to one another amid a series of increasingly wild twists, turns, trials, and tribulations. For this release, Criterion also presents John M. Stahl’s 1935 film version of the Lloyd C. Douglas novel, starring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor.

Special Features

* - SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET FEATURES:
* - New, restored high-definition digital transfer
* - Audio commentary featuring film scholar Thomas Doherty Magnificent Obsession (1935, 102 minutes): a new digital transfer of John M. Stahl’s complete earlier version of the film
* - Douglas Sirk: From UFA to Hollywood (1991): a rare 80-minute documentary by German filmmaker Eckhart Schmidt in which Sirk reflects upon his career
* - Video interviews with filmmakers Allison Anders and Kathryn Bigelow, paying tribute to Sirk
* - Theatrical trailer
* - PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien

Film Info
1954
108 minutes
Color
1.33:1
Dolby Digital Mono 1.0
Not Anamorphic
English

El Norte - Spine #458 (also on Blu-ray Disc)
Dir. by Gregory Nava

Posted Image

Brother and sister Enrique and Rosa flee persecution at home in Guatemala and journey north, through Mexico and on to the United States, with the dream of starting a new life. It’s a story that happens every day, but until Gregory Nava’s groundbreaking El Norte (The North), the personal travails of immigrants crossing the border to America had never been shown in the movies with such urgent humanism. A work of social realism imbued with dreamlike imagery, El Norte is a lovingly rendered, heartbreaking story of hope and survival, which critic Roger Ebert called “a Grapes of Wrath for our time.”

Special Features

* - DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:
* - New, restored high-definition digital transfer supervised and approved by director Gregory Nava
* - New audio commentary featuring Nava
* - In the Service of the Shadows: The Making of “El Norte”: a new video program featuring interviews with Nava, producer and cowriter Anna Thomas, actors Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez and David Villalpando, and set designer David Wasco
* - Wall of Silence, a new short documentary by Nava and Barbara Martinez Jitner, concerning the building of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border
* - The Journal of Diego Rodriguez Silva, the 1972 award-winning student film by Nava
* - Gallery of Chipas location-scouting photographs
* - Theatrical trailer
* - New and improved English subtitle translation
* - PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by novelist Héctor Tobar and Roger Ebert’s 1983 review of the film

Film Info
1983
122 minutes
Color
1.78:1
Anamorphic
English & Spanish

Eclipse Series 14: Rossellini’s History Films: Renaissance and Enlightenment

Posted Image

In the final phase of his career, Italian master Roberto Rossellini embarked on a dramatic, daunting project: a series of politically minded television films about knowledge and history, made in an effort to teach, where contemporary media was failing. Looking at the Western world’s major figures and moments, yet focusing on the small details of daily life, Rossellini was determined not to recount history but to bring it back to life, as it might have been, unadorned but full of the drama of the everyday. This Eclipse selection of Rossellini’s history films presents Blaise Pascal, the three-part The Age of the Medici, and Cartesius—works that don’t just enliven the past but illuminate the ideas that brought us to where we are today.

Blaise Pascal (1972)
Dir. by Roberto Rossellini

Posted Image

Rossellini’s daring outline of the life of religious philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623–62), who argued for science and intellect amid an atmosphere of superstition and ignorance, is as visually spare as it is full of intimate drama.

The Age of the Medici (1973)
Dir. by Roberto Rossellini

Posted Image

Rossellini’s three-part series (The Exile of Cosimo, The Power of Cosimo, and Leon Battista Alberti) is like a Renaissance painting come to life, a portrait of fifteenth-century Florence, ruled by the Medici political dynasty. With a lovely score from composer Manuel de Sica (son of Vittorio), the epic Medici films are important works on art, civilization, and politics.

Cartesius (1974)
Dir. by Roberto Rossellini

Posted Image

Mathematician, scientist, and writer René Descartes (1596–1650) is relentlessly determined to establish the primacy of reason in Rossellini’s portrait of the travails of the “father of modern philosophy.” Cartesius is both entertaining and edifying, and directed with its filmmaker’s unerring attention to quotidian detail.

Film Info
Color
1.33:1
Dolby Digital Mono 1.0
Not Anamorphic
Italian

"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


#4 of 167 OFFLINE   James 'Tiger' Lee

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Posted October 15 2008 - 07:57 PM

Could be it was one of the last films to be shot for Academy before the change over. Then again, Criterion stooped with their Monsters and Madmen set to using cropped and (in one case) censored transfers

#5 of 167 OFFLINE   CineKarine

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Posted October 16 2008 - 12:49 AM

Really thrilled the 1935 version of MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION will be included. I usually prefer the 30s versions of these great tearjerkers - I always thought the originals of say, Imitation of Life, Magnificent Obsession, Love Affair, Back Street, etc. worked better than the later more famous remakes. They felt more sincere since the plot was at the center of the film, not the glossy fashion show Posted Image Not saying I don't enjoy the 1950s remakes, but they never move me the way the more hearfelt original versions did. The 1950s tearjerkers feel more emotionally detached to me. I will add this DVD to my 2009 pre-orders for sure.
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#6 of 167 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted October 16 2008 - 01:19 AM

There's no reason to debate this. If Criterion has mastered this in 1.33, they are wrong.

MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION began filming in late September of 1953. Universal switched to widescreen cinematography in April of that year.

It was most certainly composed for widescreen. In fact, as with all of Universal's A productions, it was intended to be shown 2.1.

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#7 of 167 OFFLINE   WilliamMcK

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Posted October 16 2008 - 01:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas T
The good news is that they will include the 1935 version as a bonus, the (possible) bad news is that the 1954 film will be released (according to Criterion's site) at 1:33. Let the OAR debate begin!

Interesting. I just DVR'd Magnificent Obsession in HD. Haven't watched it yet, but I glanced through it, and it's in 1.78. I'll have to hold on to it until the Criterion comes out so I can A/B it. (Actually Magnificent Obsession is my least favorite of the color Sirk melodramas--but it's been years since I've seen it, so maybe I'll change my mind).

The Rossellini releases are very exciting!

#8 of 167 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted October 16 2008 - 01:37 AM

In fact, Universal made this announcement to the industry in 11/53:

http://i169.photobuc....universal1.jpg

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#9 of 167 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted October 16 2008 - 02:39 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Furmanek
There's no reason to debate this. If Criterion has mastered this in 1.33, they are wrong.

MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION began filming in late September of 1953. Universal switched to widescreen cinematography in April of that year.

It was most certainly composed for widescreen. In fact, as with all of Universal's A productions, it was intended to be shown 2.1.

http://i169.photobuc....n/UIRatios.jpg
Yup, I hope Criterion has made a mistake with their release information.

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#10 of 167 OFFLINE   Martin Teller

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Posted October 16 2008 - 03:49 AM

It won't be the wrong aspect ratio, calm down. Criterion's specs often have little mistakes when first posted.

I'm absolutely ecstatic about El Norte (one of my all-time favorites), really looking forward to seeing another Sirk film, and utterly indifferent about Rossellini.

#11 of 167 OFFLINE   Bradley-E

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Posted October 16 2008 - 04:37 AM

I'm sure MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION will be OAR. It was shown on Cinemax HD the other day with very good looking Hi Def Anamorphic transfer.

#12 of 167 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted October 16 2008 - 05:52 AM

Wasn't Sirk's Magnificent Obsession originally in Perspecta?

#13 of 167 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted October 16 2008 - 05:57 AM

UI's earliest known Perspecta release is BlACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH which was released in September 1954. MO premiered in July so it's possible, but not confirmed.

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#14 of 167 OFFLINE   Jack Theakston

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Posted October 16 2008 - 06:35 AM

Posted Image

From BOXOFFICE Magazine. Note the aspect ratio.

Bob F. is correct. MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION was made long after the studio retooled their viewfinders and announced going wide, and is in fact shot at the very wide ratio of 2.00:1. Trade announcements refer to the film as "going into production" and "in production" in "widescreen."

Unfortunately, I see the trend at Criterion is that if it isn't hard-matted, that they present it full frame. And when it is hard matted, they simply do the transfer at whatever the matte is at, such as THE BLOB at 1.66:1 when it's actually 1.85 (and their transfer is framed up too high).
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#15 of 167 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted October 16 2008 - 07:22 AM

Good information, thanks Jack!

I sent a letter to the Criterion tech department with this info. So far, there has been no reply.

Bob

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#16 of 167 OFFLINE   BillyFeldman

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Posted October 16 2008 - 07:38 AM

I have a region two of Magnificent Obsession and I believe it is 2.1.

#17 of 167 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted October 16 2008 - 07:46 AM

I just hope this transfer is based off of better materials than the misty, blurry R2 DVD releases. Those releases look like they were made from poor separation masters recomposited with haloing and poor color and contrast.

#18 of 167 OFFLINE   Sammy-G

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Posted October 16 2008 - 09:35 AM

I haven't been this excited about DVD news in a while. I'm thrilled that the 30's version will be on there (haven't seen it but I love Taylor and Dunne) and that cover art is exquisite.
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#19 of 167 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted October 16 2008 - 02:04 PM

Good news! I just received a reply from a tech at Criterion, and the 1954 MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION is correctly mastered in 2:1. The confusion came about because their website only listed the AR for the 1935 version.

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#20 of 167 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted October 16 2008 - 02:27 PM

I guess we can update the title of this thread then.





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