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A few words about...™ The Thief of Bagdad (1924) -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 49 Robert Harris

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Posted February 19 2013 - 05:46 AM

As the initial Blu-ray release from the Cohen Media Group, the entity that purchased the old Rohauer library, The Thief of Bagdad comes off looking quite nice.


The film has been in the public domain since the early 1950s, and many people have seen it over the years in dupes.  Some quite superb.  Some downright unpleasant.


It's obvious that thought and effort went into this release, the only downside of which, seems to be that the film elements used, were apparently those only held by the Rohauer library.  I must wonder if things might have been a bit improved had other access been available.


The elements scanned were two different full aperture dupe negatives, with the majority of the footage coming from a continuous source.  As scanned in 2k, resolution and gray scale are very acceptable, especially for an element that is not original.


One of the major problems with the source, which may go unnoticed by the uninitiated, is the movement within the frame, as baked into the dupe.  The original element copied to dupe, was obviously shrunken, and seems to twitch vertically through various portions of the film.  There  is there little that can be done about this, and I'm extremely pleased that those behind the digital work, didn't go looking through their digital tool-boxes for an anti-veritcal-twitch app.  By leaving it alone, I believe we have a better presentation.


Using the Carl Davis score, which is typically superb, and real treat, also added problems, as reference (a PAL tape), had been produced in sync with the track at 22fps.


In order to keep in sync, every tenth frame is duplicated, allowing the element to run in a faux 22 fps mode.  This frame doubling will not be noticeable to the general audience, and is in no way a problem.


The score is presented in DTS-HD MA.


Tinting is also copied over from the Thames tape, and comes off as being quite pleasing.


One really cannot discuss this initial release, without considering what it might have looked like had it come out via Kino.  My gut reaction, is that what we're seeing from Cohen Media is a step up, as funding has been allowed for clean-up and other digital work that probably would not have occurred in the alternative.


This is a good thing, and portends in a positive way toward future releases.


While the Rohauer library was a world unto itself, it remains to be seen if future releases are able to take advantage of elements held by varying archives, especially for those titles in the public domain, such as the majority of the Griffith productions.


What I'd love to see from Cohen, are releases that cannot be bettered in the future, and which, for those with an interest in early cinema, become the obvious go-to editions for purchase.  If others come out with similar or better editions, it will muddy the waters.


But if Cohen Media do the outstanding job that, with the Rohauer Collection as a basis, they should be able to do, along with input and access from other libraries, they may be unbeatable in that segment of the home video marketplace, and I'd love to see that occur.


They've taken the step of using clear cases, a la Criterion, and offering small booklets along with the disc.  I'd like to see the specifics of what elements were used added in the future.


There are very good technical people behind the new Cohen brand.  Things coming up should be very interesting.


"It's only a matter of going."


Image - 2.5


Audio - 5


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 49 Mark Walker

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Posted February 19 2013 - 06:20 AM

Thanks for the review!

Paramount, please release DRAGONSLAYER on Blu-ray

Dragonslayer_1981HTF_zps4e370848.jpg

 

 

Vermithrax Pejorative deserves to be seen in high-def.


#3 of 49 JoHud

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Posted February 19 2013 - 06:33 AM

I should be getting this today. Looking forward very much to seeing this.

#4 of 49 Ed Lachmann

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Posted February 19 2013 - 08:27 AM

There was a rumor that INTOLERANCE was in the pipeline from Cohen and slated for a possible release even before THIEF. It was to also to have the wonderful Carl Davis score that Photoplay sent along with theatrical screenings. Just hoping some of the Photoplay/Brownlow restorations might make it to Cohen BD releases someday. It would be exciting to see FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE, STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG , THE WIND and THE CROWD. These four also have lovely Carl Davis soundtracks. I wonder what the relationship might be between Cohen and Photoplay. Kevin Brownlow stated at a recent HORSEMEN screening that he had been trying to persuade Warners to get behind new releases of several of these, with no interest shown to him at all at the suggestion. Not sure if rights issues would be a factor with these films, if they are in public domain or not. Anyone a bit more savvy about such things? Whatever the case, I've ordered several of the THIEF BDs for friends who are classic film buffs. This review is wonderful as are the captures on DVDBeaver, which are breathtaking!

#5 of 49 Russell G

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Posted February 19 2013 - 08:30 AM

Thanks for the words RAH, I plan to buy this since I've never seen it. sounds like it's as good as we're going to get for a while, and the price is more than fair.



#6 of 49 RobertR

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Posted February 19 2013 - 08:52 AM

I'm waiting for the 1940 version. :)

#7 of 49 Ejanss

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Posted February 19 2013 - 09:01 AM

I'm waiting for the 1940 version. :)

I remember my sister, growing up, always remembered the cheapjack 1978 TV-movie (with Roddy McDowall as Sabu) as the first version she saw, kept pestering me to find out whether it was on disk yet, and was actually disappointed to see the 1940 version. Fortunately, "7th Voyage of Sinbad" managed to be a suitable replacement in the meantime.

#8 of 49 Robert Harris

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Posted February 19 2013 - 09:53 AM

Originally Posted by Ed Lachmann 

There was a rumor that INTOLERANCE was in the pipeline from Cohen and slated for a possible release even before THIEF. It was to also to have the wonderful Carl Davis score that Photoplay sent along with theatrical screenings. Just hoping some of the Photoplay/Brownlow restorations might make it to Cohen BD releases someday. It would be exciting to see FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE, STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG , THE WIND and THE CROWD. These four also have lovely Carl Davis soundtracks. I wonder what the relationship might be between Cohen and Photoplay. Kevin Brownlow stated at a recent HORSEMEN screening that he had been trying to persuade Warners to get behind new releases of several of these, with no interest shown to him at all at the suggestion. Not sure if rights issues would be a factor with these films, if they are in public domain or not. Anyone a bit more savvy about such things? Whatever the case, I've ordered several of the THIEF BDs for friends who are classic film buffs. This review is wonderful as are the captures on DVDBeaver, which are breathtaking!

WB


"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


#9 of 49 Mark-P

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Posted February 19 2013 - 09:54 AM

Robert, there is something funny about your math. Duplicating every 10th frame would come out to 22fps (10+1+10+1). However every 5th frame would work out right (5+1+5+1+5+1+5+1=24)

#10 of 49 Robert Harris

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Posted February 19 2013 - 11:27 AM

Originally Posted by Mark-P 

Robert, there is something funny about your math. Duplicating every 10th frame would come out to 22fps (10+1+10+1). However every 5th frame would work out right (5+1+5+1+5+1+5+1=24)

My probability and statistics professor told me the same thing.


"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 49 Malcolm Bmoor

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Posted February 19 2013 - 10:28 PM

There's a performance of THIEF OF BAGHDAD conduced by Carl Davis at London's Royal Festival Hall on June 1 2013. http://www.southbank...orchestra-69419 I've not yet asked whether it will be shown from the previously used film print or a digital showing from a later version. A specialist company usually installs a continuously variable speed projector for these occasions. I've always been a regular at what used to be called THAMES SILENTS or LIVE CINEMA and remember THIEF as one of the finest experiences.
Malcolm Blackmoor

#12 of 49 Robert Harris

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Posted February 19 2013 - 11:06 PM

Originally Posted by Malcolm Bmoor 

There's a performance of THIEF OF BAGHDAD conduced by Carl Davis at London's Royal Festival Hall on June 1 2013.

http://www.southbank...orchestra-69419

I've not yet asked whether it will be shown from the previously used film print or a digital showing from a later version. A specialist company usually installs a continuously variable speed projector for these occasions. I've always been a regular at what used to be called THAMES SILENTS or LIVE CINEMA and remember THIEF as one of the finest experiences.

Presume they would use a print.


The live performances are very special.  Any way that those within a day's travel should make the effort.


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


#13 of 49 Professor Echo

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Posted February 20 2013 - 05:00 AM

May I politely suggest to Cohen that silent film original poster art is some of the most beautiful in the history of the medium?

#14 of 49 Ejanss

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Posted February 20 2013 - 07:45 AM

May I politely suggest to Cohen that silent film original poster art is some of the most beautiful in the history of the medium?

Kino certainly thought so when they used it.

#15 of 49 Russell G

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Posted February 20 2013 - 11:43 AM

Not to hijack the thread, but this is the only place I see this title being discussed.


I had this on pre-order with Amazon.ca and they just cancelled my order saying it was not available from the supplier. Just curious if this is a Canada thing or if it's actually a pulled bluray.


#16 of 49 JoHud

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Posted February 20 2013 - 01:32 PM

I got mine, watched it with no problem and saw all the extras. Doesn't look like it was pulled. Looks like an error on Amazon.ca's part since I can't find the item on their site.

#17 of 49 John Weller

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Posted February 20 2013 - 07:27 PM

While the Rohauer library was a world unto itself, it remains to be seen if future releases are able to take advantage of elements held by varying archives, especially for those titles in the public domain, such as the majority of the Griffith productions. What I'd love to see from Cohen, are releases that cannot be bettered in the future, and which, for those with an interest in early cinema, become the obvious go-to editions for purchase.  If others come out with similar or better editions, it will muddy the waters. But if Cohen Media do the outstanding job that, with the Rohauer Collection as a basis, they should be able to do, along with input and access from other libraries, they may be unbeatable in that segment of the home video marketplace, and I'd love to see that occur. RAH

I seem to recall the Rohauer BIRTH OF A NATION released by Thames on vhs being longer (ie. more footage) then the version released on Blu-ray by Kino - and it had a version of the original score, whilst Kino has a new one from Mont Alto. So there it'd be interesting to see another version.

#18 of 49 David_B_K

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Posted February 20 2013 - 11:20 PM

May I politely suggest to Cohen that silent film original poster art is some of the most beautiful in the history of the medium?

My wife has an original program for this film. The cover painting of Fairbanks on the winged horse would have made great cover art.

#19 of 49 Ejanss

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Posted February 21 2013 - 10:28 AM

My wife has an original program for this film. The cover painting of Fairbanks on the winged horse would have made great cover art.

Now, y'see, I'd thought Kino had already used it on their last DVD restoration a couple years ago, since the winged-horse painting is the cover graphic that appears with Kino's (non-Carl Davis) version currently airing on Instant Netflix-- Am I remembering this incorrectly? :confused: (Either way, it helps to keep folks up to speed on what we over on BR.com refer to as "Cover juggle": Every cover design is copyrighted, so no two releases can have the same cover layout--A change of elements, a different color or logo, a shuffle of one main character to the foreground, there's always some reason why, no, they can't use the original poster art just like the VHS or first DVD release did.)

#20 of 49 warnerbro

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Posted February 21 2013 - 10:52 AM

This is my favorite silent film and one of my favorite films period. Watching it accompanied by the Carl Davis score is like going on a ride at Disneyland or dreaming a dream you never want to wake up from. I had a laserdisc copy that had an awesome intro by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr where he described the making of the film and used the Carl Davis score. I have almost worn that laserdisc out and I guess this new release will be as close as I can get to that one. I originally saw this on PBS in 1986 and was blown away. Don't miss this one. You'll love it.





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