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A few words about...™ Cleopatra (1963) - U.S. Release -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#81 of 181 rsmithjr

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Posted June 01 2013 - 09:01 PM

...

It was actually the highest-grossing film of the year, but was still considered an unsuccessful film because it still showed a loss even after a successful run.

The idea that Cleopatra was "unsuccessful" is a myth that simply should not be perpetuated.

 

Not only was it the highest grossing film of the year, it set many box office records throughout the world.  The film turned a profit in the early 1970's in an era when films were expected to take a while to play out. 

 

It has continued to make money ever since.  How many films that are 50 years old have a theatrical reissue at a fairly large number of locations? 

 

Cleopatra clearly destabilized Fox for a few years, but only a part of this can be blamed on the production itself.  Fox shut down productions that probably should have continued.  Due to the shutdown, general studio costs were charged off to Cleopatra, causing the putative budget to be greatly increased.  The joke was that if a studio exec took his mistress to dinner in Beverly Hills, the cost was expensed to Cleopatra. 

 

A lot of this was general mismanagement and had little to do with what was happening in Rome. 

 

Darryl F clearly demonstrated this by 1) delivering The Longest Day at a critical time, and 2) finishing and releasing Cleopatra, and 3) getting other projects into production. 

 

Like the marvelous fading frescoes that provide the interfaces to Cleopatra's scenes, we are now left with only the film itself.  "Unsuccessful"?  I think not.  Flawed perhaps but still a remarkable effort from many technical and esthetic points of view. 


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#82 of 181 ROclockCK

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Posted June 01 2013 - 11:02 PM

Cleopatra clearly destabilized Fox for a few years, but only a part of this can be blamed on the production itself.  Fox shut down productions that probably should have continued.  Due to the shutdown, general studio costs were charged off to Cleopatra, causing the putative budget to be greatly increased.  The joke was that if a studio exec took his mistress to dinner in Beverly Hills, the cost was expensed to Cleopatra.  

 

Of course, this was after years of Cleopatra's mounting overhead being charged off to the dwindling number of Fox movies still in production. That gambit went both ways. 

 

Like the marvelous fading frescoes that provide the interfaces to Cleopatra's scenes, we are now left with only the film itself.  "Unsuccessful"?  I think not.  Flawed perhaps but still a remarkable effort from many technical and esthetic points of view

 

I've always had a soft spot for this one-of-a-kind (and last-of-a-kind) picture. Even when some of its dramatics falter along the lines of 'missing backstory' or 'questionable tone', the sheer physical presence of the film - its scale of ambition - remains mesmerizing. There isn't an ill-considered or sloppily designed element in whichever part of the frame you choose to scrutinize...right out to the edges. 

 

So in the proper state of mind with an appropriate set of expectations, Cleopatra is still a vintage A/V feast with few peers. When I watch it, I marvel over what is there, not what isn't.


Edited by ROclockCK, June 01 2013 - 11:03 PM.

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#83 of 181 Paul Rossen

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Posted June 02 2013 - 06:54 AM

Given that the Robe was the first film  to show off Scope's 4 track sound, I find  it very hard to believe that the miserable use of the surround track on the BD in any way represents  the original. Even more so when I vividly  recall a screening the mid 70's at London NFT of an original print that had thunder rumbling around the auditorium during the crucifixion. On the BD it sounds like a summer shower!

Agree.  For the Blu ray the restoration of the video portion of The Robe was a tremendous feat.  The audio portion to my ears left a lot to be desired.  I disagree with the poster who stated the directional dialogue was there-perhaps it is but the music was always front and centered not spread across the speakers as it should have been.



#84 of 181 Douglas R

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Posted June 02 2013 - 07:24 AM

Agree.  For the Blu ray the restoration of the video portion of The Robe was a tremendous feat.  The audio portion to my ears left a lot to be desired.  I disagree with the poster who stated the directional dialogue was there-perhaps it is but the music was always front and centered not spread across the speakers as it should have been.

 

I don't know how you can disagree. I wasn't stating an opinion but a fact. The dialogue is directional and the music is spread spaciously L-C-R. It is not centered. Maybe you need to give the disc another careful listen.



#85 of 181 Doug Otte

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Posted June 09 2013 - 06:11 PM

I bought Cleopatra digibook at Costco today for $17.99.  Although I've never seen this film, It's such a good price for a controversial classic that I couldn't resist.


Edited by Doug Otte, June 09 2013 - 06:26 PM.


#86 of 181 Clayking38

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Posted June 12 2013 - 01:07 PM

I looked at some of the bd today, and compared some similar scenes in the U.K. release.  Although I couldn't do a side-by-side comparison I thought the U.S. release might be slightly sharper and somewhat lighter.  I also checked the same scenes in the 2001 dvd and the flesh tones looked more natural (at least to my eye).  The skin tones in exteriors in both U.K. and U.S. blu-rays have an odd "bronzed" look.   



#87 of 181 haineshisway

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Posted June 12 2013 - 01:56 PM

I looked at some of the bd today, and compared some similar scenes in the U.K. release.  Although I couldn't do a side-by-side comparison I thought the U.S. release might be slightly sharper and somewhat lighter.  I also checked the same scenes in the 2001 dvd and the flesh tones looked more natural (at least to my eye).  The skin tones in exteriors in both U.K. and U.S. blu-rays have an odd "bronzed" look.   

They are the same transfer - there is no difference.



#88 of 181 Paul Rossen

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Posted June 12 2013 - 02:02 PM

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the World Premiere of Cleopatra at The Rivoli Theater in NYC.  The movie is still with us but the Theater is long gone...



#89 of 181 ahollis

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Posted June 12 2013 - 03:46 PM

Taken from Cinema Treasures.

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#90 of 181 Matt Hough

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Posted June 12 2013 - 05:53 PM

Really brings back memories of that great theater on many trips to NYC.

#91 of 181 Clayking38

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Posted June 13 2013 - 06:23 AM

They are the same transfer - there is no difference.

Forgive my lack of knowledge about the process and terms.  I thought the "transfer" was the conversion from film to digital.  Wouldn't it be possible to subsequently alter the digital master when authoring the disc?  If so, were you confirming that this wasn't done, other than shifting the entr'acte?   



#92 of 181 David_B_K

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Posted June 14 2013 - 06:15 AM

Forgive my lack of knowledge about the process and terms.  I thought the "transfer" was the conversion from film to digital.  Wouldn't it be possible to subsequently alter the digital master when authoring the disc?  If so, were you confirming that this wasn't done, other than shifting the entr'acte?   

 

All reports from people who have both the UK and USA discs are that the same transfer was used for both. Yes, they moved the Entr'acte to disc 2 for the USA release. They could have done a new transfer, or they could have done some digital maniplulation to the USA release, but apparently they didn't. I assume the USA release was held back to 2013 in order to call it the 50th anniversary edition.

 

I saw the film in a theater a few weeks ago. When I got home, I took a look at the (UK) Blu-ray to compare it with what I had just seen. My main complaint was not a coldness, per se, but an over all drabness of color. The main adjustment I make when watching this on TV is to turn my color up several notches. I then have to turn it back down for other films and programs.



#93 of 181 moviebuff75

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Posted June 14 2013 - 07:45 AM

My disc one won't work. This is my second copy. My firmware is up to date. Very frustrating.


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#94 of 181 Billy Batson

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Posted June 14 2013 - 03:01 PM

All reports from people who have both the UK and USA discs are that the same transfer was used for both. Yes, they moved the Entr'acte to disc 2 for the USA release. They could have done a new transfer, or they could have done some digital maniplulation to the USA release, but apparently they didn't. I assume the USA release was held back to 2013 in order to call it the 50th anniversary edition.

 

I saw the film in a theater a few weeks ago. When I got home, I took a look at the (UK) Blu-ray to compare it with what I had just seen. My main complaint was not a coldness, per se, but an over all drabness of color. The main adjustment I make when watching this on TV is to turn my color up several notches. I then have to turn it back down for other films and programs.

 

Yup, I do the same thing, turn the colour & brightness up, but I shouldn't have to! I don't know why they didn't release it worldwide at the same time, who cares if the 50th anniversary is released in the 49th year, did anyone mind that the 50th anniversary Ben-Hur was released in the 52nd year (I think), did they even notice?



#95 of 181 rsmithjr

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Posted June 14 2013 - 04:28 PM

Yup, I do the same thing, turn the colour & brightness up... .

I also turn the blue down by 4 notches.   The color balance is simply too cold to match the original Deluxe color.  Fortunately, the tuning that I do makes a huge improvement.  

 

Some "purists" seem to think that you can calibrate your system and then it works for every disk.   Not true in either picture or sound, especially for older films. 


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#96 of 181 JoshZ

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Posted June 17 2013 - 01:13 PM



Some "purists" seem to think that you can calibrate your system and then it works for every disk.   Not true in either picture or sound, especially for older films. 

 

Well, it's supposed to work that way, if the title has been transferred to the proper reference standards. Unfortunately, not all video transfers are everything they could be.


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#97 of 181 Nick*Z

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Posted June 21 2013 - 08:36 AM

I have to say the only thing that disappointed me about this disc was the fact that the missing footage seems to now be filed away as 'truly missing'. I have to say that in reviewing the documentary 'Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood" (a fabulous companion piece, by the way, and a pity it didn't get upgraded to full 1080p) I noted a few very brief snippets of footage from both the Rome shoot and the aborted Pinewood Studios outtakes. These would have been much appreciated to have been included as remastered extras in 1080p. Clearly, some of the MIA footage currently is out there.

 

Whether or not it is accompanied by a viable soundtrack or not is another matter entirely, but I sure would have appreciated seeing it in its raw state. Criterion did this on their Great Dictator set, giving us the rare behind-the-scenes Technicolor outtakes, unedited and without commentary as an extra. 

 

Fox could have, and ought to have done the same with Cleopatra. They may not have all the footage, but the documentary at least reveals that somewhere they have some of it. 


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#98 of 181 Andrew Budgell

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Posted June 21 2013 - 10:17 AM

Fox could have, and ought to have done the same with Cleopatra. They may not have all the footage, but the documentary at least reveals that somewhere they have some of it. 

 

I was disappointed about this, too and expressed this on other threads. Fox DOES have what would have been the film's first glimpses of Cleopatra: Cleopatra walking in her camp (visible in the documentary you referred to) and Cleopatra divining the future. They also have trims from the entrance into Rome, costume tests and Pinewood footage, which you mentioned. Why they didn't include these as bonus material and make this a definitive release is baffling. What a wasted opportunity.


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#99 of 181 RBlenheim

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Posted June 25 2013 - 04:09 PM

I hate to point this out, but isn't a Blu-ray of Mankiewicz's "Cleopatra" all-too-much ado about nothing?   The film is a huge elephantine bomb in spite of its great music score by Alex North.  It's an awful film.

 

Restoration of this turkey?   Isn't this going too far?    (I mean, before "Khartoum" or Vidor's "The Crowd"?????)


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#100 of 181 lukejosephchung

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Posted June 25 2013 - 04:34 PM

I hate to point this out, but isn't a Blu-ray of Mankiewicz's "Cleopatra" all-too-much ado about nothing?   The film is a huge elephantine bomb in spite of its great music score by Alex North.  It's an awful film.

 

Restoration of this turkey?   Isn't this going too far?    (I mean, before "Khartoum" or Vidor's "The Crowd"?????)

This "turkey" was monstrously expensive, but hardly a bomb!!! It's the #1 Box Office film of 1963...I'll leave others to judge your opinion of its artistic merits...







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