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A few words about...™ Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned... -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 56 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted May 26 2009 - 11:40 PM

Stanley Kubrick's dark comedy about high level military insanity and war during the "duck and cover" era is as brilliant today as it was in 1963, when George C. Scott noted in an interview, that he felt that it would be discussed far into the future.

Mr. Scott was right.

What he, nor anyone else, could have predicted however, in an age where original negatives were shipped across the pond (and then back) for printing, was that by the mid-1980s the original negative would be nowhere to be found.

There have been various rumors.

Mr. Kubrick was so upset that he ordered all extant elements shipped to his home outside London, where he meticulously re-photographed each frame from whatever was available...

with his Nikon.

Mr. Kubrick was so upset that he ordered all extant elements shipped to his home outside London, where upon examination of dupes, he found bits and pieces of his original negative cut in as replacement footage.

The truth of the situation is that Columbia's Asset Protection guru, Grover Crisp, ordered all extant elements shipped in for examination, and in an era during which 4k restoration was virtually unknown -- I'm aware of only one other which entailed a trio of color films -- culled through the elements, and moved meticulously forward with the necessary frame by frame restoration, of which we are now the Blu-ray beneficiary.

Acknowledging the fact that the OCN no longer is available, the results are as close to Mr. Kubrick's original intent as humanly and technologically possible.

Gorgeous black & white, with a clean, dirt-free, stable image, and every bit of original resolution as captured by the protection elements.

Dr. Strangelove is one of the most important and entertaining films made in our century plus of the cinema.

I've seen it in virtually every incarnation over the years, and generally (except for the very first screening) went away less than pleased. This Blu-ray has me smiling again.

Formatted in 1.66:1 aspect ratio, it gets something right that over the decades seemed to get continually overlooked. The proper framing of the B-52 Stratofortress in flight. These huge aircraft -- 8 engines, 159 feet long, 40 feet high, and with a wing span of 185 feet (many of which are still in service, and will remain in service) are magnificent in flight. For many of the shots in Strangelove, they were captured from wingtip to wingtip, but for whatever reason some of these shots seemed to have been continuously cropped in either printing or video replication.

They're back, and framed to perfection.

There is only one Dr. Strangelove, and it's a must own for anyone who even has an inkling that they love the cinema. Not to own this film can lead to the loss of one's cinephile license.

As an aside, as I noted, while the aspect ratio of Dr. Strangelove is 1.66:1, the aspect ratio of the B-52 is slightly wider, even wider than Ultra-Panavision 70, at 8.56:1

Dr. Strangelove on Blu-ray is the most perfect version of the film that one will see, and I can't not give it the unusual rating of:

Extremely Highly Recommended!

(Dr. Strangelove is encoded for regions A, B and C)

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 56 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted May 27 2009 - 12:50 AM

I might have to re-activate my blu access on netflix just for this.
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#3 of 56 OFFLINE   Dennis Maricic

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Posted May 27 2009 - 01:12 AM

Thank you Robert for the very informative review.

This is a title that I've coveted for sometime and am overjoyed to hear that it was treated with the respect it deserves.

#4 of 56 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted May 27 2009 - 01:16 AM

"As an aside, as I noted, while the aspect ratio of Dr. Strangelove is 1.66:1, the aspect ratio of the B-52 is slightly wider, even wider than Ultra-Panavision 70, at 8.56:1"

is that a real aspect ratio?
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#5 of 56 OFFLINE   Scott D S

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Posted May 27 2009 - 07:32 AM

Do these two (somewhat minor) issues still exist from the last DVD release? I read this on another forum when this disc was announced:

1. @38:09 - In the scene where the Russian ambassador is caught with the camera in the war room: after the line "That's a damn lie. I saw him with my own eyes." In the next line: "Mister >>[Amb...leman]<< this is outrageous. I have never heard of such behavior in the war room before!" there is an odd audio edit that sounds like the word "ambassador" has been replaced with part of the word "gentlemen."

2. @39:52 - There is a film source "skip" where some frames appear to repeat when Peter Sellars is seated on the couch folding the foil gum wrapper.

#6 of 56 OFFLINE   Brian Borst

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Posted May 27 2009 - 07:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Harris
There is only one Dr. Strangelove, and it's a must own for anyone who even has an inkling that they love the cinema. Not to own this film can lead to the loss of one's cinephile license.

LOL is that a threat Posted Image ? Doesn't matter, though. I already planned to pick this up. Sony continues to take very good care of their back catalog, I must say. Along with Ghostbusters this should be a very satisfying release.
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#7 of 56 OFFLINE   MatS

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Posted May 27 2009 - 08:28 AM

great news but still gonna hold out for the price to drop

#8 of 56 OFFLINE   Geoff_D

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Posted May 27 2009 - 09:54 AM

The remastered DVD was an absolute joy to watch, and I'm glad to hear that the Blu does it even better. Thanks RAH.

#9 of 56 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted May 27 2009 - 10:51 AM

Sold! Thanks for the thorough review, RAH!

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#10 of 56 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted May 27 2009 - 01:37 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott D S
Do these two (somewhat minor) issues still exist from the last DVD release? I read this on another forum when this disc was announced:

1. @38:09 - In the scene where the Russian ambassador is caught with the camera in the war room: after the line "That's a damn lie. I saw him with my own eyes." In the next line: "Mister >>[Amb...leman]<< this is outrageous. I have never heard of such behavior in the war room before!" there is an odd audio edit that sounds like the word "ambassador" has been replaced with part of the word "gentlemen."

2. @39:52 - There is a film source "skip" where some frames appear to repeat when Peter Sellars is seated on the couch folding the foil gum wrapper.

There are three types of film restoration or "restorations."

1. A new print or cleaned negative hyped as a "restoration."

2. What I have coined "masturbatory" restoration. What could have been a lab order, plus a bit of extra detail work, that has the trappings of a true restoration, as well as publicity and sizzle behind it.

3. Film restorations that begin with proper research, and work from the ground up to literally re-build a film.

Dr. Strangelove is a perfect example of number 3. As such, these problems inherent in older video releases necessary to cover problems with elements, no longer exist.

Dr. Strangelove is film restoration done right.

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


#11 of 56 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted May 27 2009 - 01:49 PM

While I've been quite happy with my SD copy (most recent release), this will be a double-dip for sure. I'll keep the other one (I use excerpts in class when we cover the Cold War) but for home viewing, only the best will do when it comes to the good Dr.Posted Image
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#12 of 56 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted May 27 2009 - 04:09 PM

Great to hear this came out great! The '04 remaster is fantastic, so I'm eager to see it in 1080p form. I took advantage of Amazon's $22 sale price on pre-order. Not that it wouldn't be worth a $40 MSRP.

I've actually felt the murkiness of some older transfers added to the film, even if it was completely unintentional. I'd much rather see the film intended by Kubrick without the damage and dupey contrast, but I used to think it was meant to look like that when I was younger. This is not the case for 2001, which absolutely needs the best quality possible.


On the subject of Kubrick, what's your opinion on the UCLA/MGM restoration for Paths of Glory?

#13 of 56 OFFLINE   Terry Hickey

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Posted May 27 2009 - 04:34 PM

This is one of my all time favorites. I am looking forward to adding it to my small collection of films in high definition.
 

#14 of 56 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted May 27 2009 - 11:57 PM

Here's an interesting read:

American Cinematographer: Post Focus:

"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


#15 of 56 OFFLINE   Mike Williams

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Posted May 28 2009 - 03:47 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD
"As an aside, as I noted, while the aspect ratio of Dr. Strangelove is 1.66:1, the aspect ratio of the B-52 is slightly wider, even wider than Ultra-Panavision 70, at 8.56:1"

is that a real aspect ratio?

I believe Mr. Harris is referring to the actual B-52s themselves. I don't believe he means to imply that the aspect ratio of the film changes to 8:56:1 when we see the B-52.

#16 of 56 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted May 28 2009 - 06:05 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Williams
I believe Mr. Harris is referring to the actual B-52s themselves. I don't believe he means to imply that the aspect ratio of the film changes to 8:56:1 when we see the B-52.

Only when donning the colorful and festive pair of special Dr. Strangelove glasses (4 pair included with Blu-ray).

"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


#17 of 56 OFFLINE   Christian Preischl

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Posted May 28 2009 - 09:16 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Harris
Only when donning the colorful and festive pair of special Dr. Strangelove glasses (4 pair included with Blu-ray).
Well, NOW I'm sold. Posted Image

#18 of 56 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted May 28 2009 - 10:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Harris
Here's an interesting read:

American Cinematographer: Post Focus:
Thanks, RAH. That makes the distinction between "masturbatory" restoration and an actual restoration even clearer.
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#19 of 56 ONLINE   DavidJ

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Posted May 28 2009 - 10:15 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Harris
Here's an interesting read:

American Cinematographer: Post Focus:

Great read, thank you for posting it. There is a lot of good information in the article and I especially appreciated these comments:

Quote:
Cineric’s proven expertise with photochemical film restoration gave Crisp additional confidence. “It helps a great deal to have people doing the digital work who have experience with traditional photochemical processes — people who know film, how it works and how to handle it, and what you can and can’t get out of it,” he says. “I’ve found that it’s very easy for people who are not steeped in film history from a technical perspective to make some drastic mistakes, even if they have the best intentions.”

Crisp makes an excellent point about good intentions not being enough. Unfortunately we've seen this borne out from time to time on Blu-ray, but it is good to know that this title was handled correctly.

#20 of 56 OFFLINE   Rob LoVerde

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Posted May 28 2009 - 08:00 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Harris
Here's an interesting read:

American Cinematographer: Post Focus:

Thank you, Mr. Harris. You're right, that *was* an interesting read.

Was this kind of restoration performed for other Kubrick films on Blu-ray?


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