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A few words about...™ The Seventh Seal -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 48 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted June 18 2009 - 01:17 AM

There are three films, each of which I probably saw twenty times in my cinema classes at NYU.

Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal, and Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura.

Always in 16mm in occasionally worn, but quality Janus prints, I was led to wonder what was just on the other side of the rainbow. What would these films have looked like in pristine 35mm black & white, properly graded with rich grays, full blacks and constantly readable sub-titles?

If there had been Blu-rays four decades ago I would have be able to find out. Today's cinema classes that take advantage of quality digital projection will be one of the beneficiaries of Criterion's newest incarnation of Mr. Bergman's classic, The Seventh Seal. And they will see the film as I would have liked to have seen it in 35mm, but even cleaner and better.

Make no mistake. The Seventh Seal is not only brilliant filmmaking, but having attained a well deserved stature over the past half century, is very near the top of any knowledgeable cineaste's list as one of the greatest films ever created.

There are no half measures here in referring to The Seventh Seal. And none have been taken in the creation of this new Blu-ray.

In normal Criterion fashion, there are a multitude of extras, inclusive (and this surprised me, as Criterion has just given it its own release), Marie Nyrerod's 2006, 83 minute documentary, Bergman's Island.

It's quite obvious that it is Criterion's intent that their Blu-ray of The Seventh Seal be available to everyone, even students, and the proof is in the pricing. Currently the documentary is $15 on Amazon. For $25 ($10 more) you receive The Seventh Seal in all its glory along the full Criterion treatment.

The Seventh Seal is a gorgeous Blu-ray in every detail both visually and sonically, with an audio track the likes of which I have never heard before synchronized to this film. Kudos to everyone behind this project!

The Seventh Seal is a must own.

Very Highly Recommended.

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 48 OFFLINE   Xylon

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Posted June 18 2009 - 01:43 AM

I wonder how it compares with the Tartan Blu-ray release. Some guy from the other forum reviewed it last year Posted Image

It was beautiful.

#3 of 48 OFFLINE   blimey

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Posted June 18 2009 - 02:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xylon
I wonder how it compares with the Tartan Blu-ray release. Some guy from the other forum reviewed it last year Posted Image

It was beautiful.

They seem to be using the same restored print (for the 50th anniversary re-release??). Criterion shows higher bitrate than Tartan, however they look almost identical unless you check very closely.

#4 of 48 OFFLINE   Martin Teller

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Posted June 18 2009 - 03:22 AM

I'm holding on to the Tartan just for the behind-the-scenes footage and Karin's Face, but buying the Criterion was an absolute no-brainer.

#5 of 48 OFFLINE   Michel_Hafner

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Posted June 18 2009 - 06:41 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by blimey
They seem to be using the same restored print (for the 50th anniversary re-release??). Criterion shows higher bitrate than Tartan, however they look almost identical unless you check very closely.
HF detail of the grain is far better resolved on the higher bit rate BD of Criterion. The difference is sometimes not subtle at all. Grain like this can really use 30+ Mbit/s AVC.

#6 of 48 OFFLINE   Ray H

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Posted June 18 2009 - 08:13 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xylon
I wonder how it compares with the Tartan Blu-ray release. Some guy from the other forum reviewed it last year Posted Image

It was beautiful.
DVD Beaver (don't know if they're up to your standards, Xylon Posted Image) did a comparison, and there conclusions were that the Criterion appears sharper and had fewer compression artifacts than the Tartan release.

The Seventh Seal - Blu-ray Max von Sydow Ingmar Bergman
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#7 of 48 OFFLINE   RDarrylR

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Posted June 18 2009 - 09:37 AM

This Blu-ray is amazing Posted Image A very happy buyer here.

#8 of 48 OFFLINE   DavidJ

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Posted June 18 2009 - 10:12 AM

UPS just delivered mine. A few minutes earlier and I would've been watching it right now. Instead I'll have to wait a bit, but hopefully I'll get to it soon. It sounds fantastic.

#9 of 48 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted June 18 2009 - 03:00 PM

Seventh Seal is a perfect example of how the power of Blu-ray can enable proper film reproduction for the home theater.

"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


#10 of 48 OFFLINE   willyTass

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Posted June 18 2009 - 08:01 PM

the detail in this transfer is staggering. You could blow this up to 50 feet and it would still knock your socks off.

#11 of 48 OFFLINE   OliverK

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Posted June 18 2009 - 08:47 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michel_Hafner
HF detail of the grain is far better resolved on the higher bit rate BD of Criterion. The difference is sometimes not subtle at all. Grain like this can really use 30+ Mbit/s AVC.

The SL Tartan disc had a lot of problems replicating the rather coarse grain structure of The Seventh Seal and I am very happy to read that Criterion improved upon this.

#12 of 48 OFFLINE   24fpssean

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Posted September 23 2010 - 11:29 AM

Yes, the transfer is staggering, but the "Det" of Det sjunde inseglet is missing. The full title was there last week in the near pristine print of the film I saw at LACMA, but on the blu ray we only get sjunde inseglet off center, leaving a space that is clearly where Det had been. What kind of mistake would remove a word from the Main Title? And what idiot in QC didn't catch it? Criterion cannot claim to offer full representations of classic films on home video if the film as intended is not there. Worse, why have no reviewers caught this?


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#13 of 48 OFFLINE   Ray H

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Posted September 23 2010 - 12:06 PM

It was mentioned in DVD Beaver's review/comparison of the disc.

http://www.dvdbeaver...eal_blu-ray.htm

 

It appears the "Det" was missing from the film print supplied by Svensk Filmindustri.


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#14 of 48 OFFLINE   Craig Beam

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Posted September 23 2010 - 12:25 PM



Originally Posted by 24fpssean 

And what idiot in QC didn't catch it? Criterion cannot claim to offer full representations of classic films on home video if the film as intended is not there. Worse, why have no reviewers caught this?


DVD Beaver caught it (see their review here).  I would assume other reviews don't read Swedish, or didn't notice it.  Probably both.

 

I highly doubt that it's a QC issue.  The print you saw at LACMA is almost certainly not the same print used for Criterion's blu-ray.  Interestingly, the Tartan blu-ray also has the "Det" missing from the title (I own both blu-rays; it's one of my favorite films of all time).  Criterion didn't create the print.... Svensk Filmindustri provided it.  Criterion didn't make a "mistake," nor are they "idiots."  Jesus, what a tiny detail to bitch about.  Dude, sell your copy and get Criterion's earlier DVD from 2001.  It looks like shit by comparison, but at least it has your precious "Det" intact.  The rest of us will continue to thank Criterion for their work, and not hurl unfounded insults at them.



#15 of 48 OFFLINE   24fpssean

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Posted September 23 2010 - 12:54 PM

You're right, after all it is only home video and doesn't affect the actual negative of the film itself. Why not remove the entire title? Apparently that wouldn't matter either.


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#16 of 48 OFFLINE   Craig Beam

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Posted September 23 2010 - 12:58 PM



Originally Posted by 24fpssean 

You're right, after all it is only home video and doesn't affect the actual negative of the film itself. Why not remove the entire title? Apparently that wouldn't matter either.

 

It's one word --- three letters --- missing for a few seconds.  White words against a black background.  Does this actually detract from your enjoyment of the film?  If it does.... wow, man.

 



#17 of 48 OFFLINE   24fpssean

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Posted September 23 2010 - 01:05 PM

No, it doesn't detract. But again we are talking about the integrity, the original intent of the filmmaker. Again it's only home video, who gives a squat?!. And trust me, in this industry, there are plenty of idiots pushing the buttons.


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#18 of 48 OFFLINE   Craig Beam

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Posted September 23 2010 - 01:17 PM



Originally Posted by 24fpssean 

No, it doesn't detract. But again we are talking about the integrity, the original intent of the filmmaker. Again it's only home video, who gives a squat?!. And trust me, in this industry, there are plenty of idiots pushing the buttons.


Yeah, I'm sure Bergman is spinning in his grave over this travesty.  Posted Image

 

I've studied Bergman.... watched his films, read his books, shopped at Ikea and dated a Swedish exchange student in high school (okay, those last two probably didn't enhance my understanding of the man).  I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that he wouldn't interpret the missing "Det" as an assault on his "original intent."  He wasn't that petty.

 



#19 of 48 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted September 23 2010 - 01:19 PM

Bergman willingly prepped two entirely different versions of both Scenes from a Marriage and Fanny & Alexander to accommodate both TV and theatrical releases. I don't think he'd be all that stressed out over a "The".


"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


#20 of 48 OFFLINE   shazzerman

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Posted September 23 2010 - 09:15 PM

I dunno. "Unforgiven" (1992) is a totally different film from "The Unforgiven" (1960).Posted Image




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