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A few words about...™ The Big Parade -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About Blu-ray MGM Warner

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#1 of 30 Robert Harris

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Posted October 21 2013 - 07:12 AM

The Big Parade is 88 years old.

 

It's a "silent" film, which unfortunately to many, will mean that it may be off limits.  It's not even in color, and tinting may not help those with a pre-determined conceit against it.

 

One of the most important points that I can make about The Big Parade, is that anyone who doesn't immediately grab a copy because of some angst about the "silent" cinema, will be missing one of the great experiences in the history of cinema -- all 119 years of it.

 

The Big Parade is extraordinary film-making for any era.  Everything is in place, from the screenplay to acting, cinematography, editing...

 

and as a huge big cherry on top of this particular ice cream sundae, is a brilliant score by the great Carl Davis.

 

The film elements on The Big Parade have had an interesting history.  Thought lost in the 1970s fire at GEH, along with so much other nitrate history, it was discovered after a recent inventory, that the original camera negative was actually still there, and safe.

 

Now scanned at 4k, cinephiles amongst the Blu-ray audience are the ultimate beneficiary of the work performed.

 

Make no mistake.

 

The Big Parade, in all 151 minutes of its "silent" glory, is something to be treasured.  The fact that it survives in such incredible quality is a gift from the film gods.  Had their been an Academy Award in 1925...

 

Image - 5

 

Audio - 5

 

Extremely 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 30 schan1269

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Posted October 21 2013 - 07:39 AM

This was bought/paid for when the pre-order first hit.

 

Visually the equal of the best from the era. I don't think there is a visually superior Chaplin out there. King Kong is almost this good visually.



#3 of 30 Yami

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Posted October 21 2013 - 08:35 AM

The best release of the year, for me. I can only hope that it sells satisfactorily enough for The Crowd, Greed and The Wind to be given similar treatment.
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#4 of 30 Ed Lachmann

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Posted October 21 2013 - 09:14 AM

Double what Sam and Calvin said.  This is the BD release of the year in my book, too.   I'd just like to add FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE with Valentino to Yami's list.  As with those titles, HORSEMEN has already been restored beautifully by Kevin Brownlow and has a gorgeous tango-filled score by Carl Davis, which many consider his masterpiece.  Classic hot Rudy, methinks, would certainly sell some BDs for WB.


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#5 of 30 Danny Burk

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Posted October 21 2013 - 01:02 PM

I rarely pre-order a title, but I did in this case, in hope of showing support for the release. And, I wanted it ASAP. It was indeed worth the long wait; a magnificent release, with a wonderful tailor-made score. As others have said, I hope it's but the first of high-profile silents to be released on blu-ray by Warners. (And others!)


Edited by Danny Burk, October 21 2013 - 01:04 PM.


#6 of 30 Mark-P

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Posted October 21 2013 - 02:36 PM

Not that it makes a whit of difference to most people, but I just wondered why Warner, who should know better, has presented this silent film in academy aperture (1.37:1) instead of full aperture (1.33:1)?

#7 of 30 atcolomb

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Posted October 21 2013 - 02:45 PM

One of John Gilbert's best performances and a great silent film. Like to see Vidor's The Crowd released in blu-ray and of course the number one film on my wish list..Abel Gance's Napoleon.



#8 of 30 bujaki

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Posted October 21 2013 - 03:43 PM

The Crowd; Napoleon; The Wind; The Scarlet Letter (L. Gish); A Woman of Affairs (Garbo's best silent movie performance); Rex Ingram's movies (including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, etc.). We've asked for these titles so often. All of these, save for Napoleon, are WB. What's holding back their release?


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#9 of 30 Robert Harris

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Posted October 21 2013 - 03:53 PM

The Crowd; Napoleon; The Wind; The Scarlet Letter (L. Gish); A Woman of Affairs (Garbo's best silent movie performance); Rex Ingram's movies (including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, etc.). We've asked for these titles so often. All of these, save for Napoleon, are WB. What's holding back their release?

 

Napoleon will certainly be coming.

 

The problem has been perfecting the bicycle chains which will synchronize the 4k data for the triptych.

 

RAH


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"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 30 bujaki

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Posted October 21 2013 - 04:04 PM

Secure Gance's bicycle chains. I'm sure he used them while filming some extraordinary sequence using binary data :). He was always ahead of his time.

Maybe Mr. Brownlow has the chains stored away (maybe a little rusty) along with his first acquisition of Napoleon footage?



#11 of 30 Robert Harris

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Posted October 21 2013 - 04:05 PM

Secure Gance's bicycle chains. I'm sure he used them while filming some extraordinary sequence using binary data :). He was always ahead of his time.

Maybe Mr. Brownlow has the chains stored away (maybe a little rusty) along with his first acquisition of Napoleon footage?

 

A bit of digital oil can do wonders.

 

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


#12 of 30 JoHud

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Posted October 21 2013 - 09:22 PM

Napoleon will certainly be coming.

 

I very much hope so.  That one has been on my wish list for ages and is one I'm willing to pay top dollar to own on DVD or blu-ray.



#13 of 30 Yami

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Posted October 22 2013 - 06:09 AM

I've just finished reading Kevin Brownlow's essay that accompanies the release. It's an enthralling and very informative piece, well worth a read. He briefly mentions Vidor's 1980 (short) film The Metaphor, which I'm now quite disappointed wasn't included on the release. Is it available anywhere?

#14 of 30 Brandon Conway

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Posted October 22 2013 - 10:55 AM

Napoleon will certainly be coming.

 

The problem has been perfecting the bicycle chains which will synchronize the 4k data for the triptych.

 

RAH

 

Thank heavens. I've been wanting to see the film for years. Of course, the effect of going from 1.33:1 to 4:00:1 will not be the same on home video due to the height being greatly reduced unlike the theatrical presentation, but it's an unavoidable reality when working with 16:9 TVs (unless one wants to windowbox the 1.33:1 frame for the film, which has its own practical problems).

 

I wonder if it may be worthwhile to have each film strip from the triptych sequences presented individually in a bonus feature at 1.33:1?


"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


#15 of 30 Robert Harris

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Posted October 22 2013 - 12:25 PM

Thank heavens. I've been wanting to see the film for years. Of course, the effect of going from 1.33:1 to 4:00:1 will not be the same on home video due to the height being greatly reduced unlike the theatrical presentation, but it's an unavoidable reality when working with 16:9 TVs (unless one wants to windowbox the 1.33:1 frame for the film, which has its own practical problems).

 

I wonder if it may be worthwhile to have each film strip from the triptych sequences presented individually in a bonus feature at 1.33:1?

 

Viewing individual strips of the triptych is an extraordinary experience, especially those that are 4.0 density black.

 

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


#16 of 30 Brandon Conway

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Posted October 22 2013 - 12:45 PM

I can't tell if I should take that comment at face value or if my sarcasm detector is broken.

 

I've only read about the film, and so I don't know if there would be any value to seeing the three-strips separately or not. Obviously they were meant to be seen together, but perhaps since the relative resolution will be lower when presented together 4.00:1 seeing them separately at 1.33:1 would be of interest, maybe with a multi-angle remote toggling option.

 

Or maybe I'm just asking a foolish question.


"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


#17 of 30 Moe Dickstein

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Posted October 22 2013 - 01:24 PM

From seeing clips Brandon, there are times when you have an image center then something like a shot of a flag on either side, then there are some shots that appear to be 3 cameras synced like cinerama.

In any case looking that the panels individually would seem to be of little value.
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Yes, these strange things happen all the time - PT Anderson, Magnolia

#18 of 30 Russell G

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Posted October 22 2013 - 01:55 PM

Napoleon will certainly be coming.

 

 

RAH

 

Most exciting thing I've read in a while! Look forward to it!

 

Blind bought Parade today since Amazon.ca finally had it up at a fair price. Nice to hear it was done right, can't wait to sit down to it!



#19 of 30 AnthonyClarke

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Posted October 22 2013 - 09:04 PM

I've ordered Parade; can't wait.

'Napoleon' was unforgettable in its big-screen revival so can't wait to view it again in all its glory on my projector screen. What a shame Gance's experimental 3-D footage was lost. But his widescreen experiments were tremendous!

And talking of widescreen, I'm hoping that someone -- maybe Criterion -- will bring us Clouzot's 'The Mystery of Picasso' in Blu ray, with its mind-bending exploration of that artist's genius. The transition from black and white to colour, and Academy to widescreen is astounding.



#20 of 30 SeanAx

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Posted October 23 2013 - 09:48 PM

A release of Kevin Brownlow's restoration of "Napoleon" has been MIA in any form for a few reasons, among them the expense of making a digital master (though it is inevitable and necessary and Kevin Brownlow said it was the next step for the film), making a recording of Davis' score (which requires a full chamber orchestra), and perhaps most importantly, Francis FOrd Coppola, who negotiated for exclusive rights to the film in the U.S. He released a cut down version and released it on a special series of events with live orchestral accompaniment playing a score by Carmine Coppola.

 

Coppola still has the rights and has not made it easy to see in the U.S. (to date, it has played four times in the U.S., over two consecutive weekends in Oakland, C.A.).

 

Mr. Harris, I hope that comment means you know something we don't. But I do hope it also means the Brownlow restoration, which features about 45 minutes of footage unseen in the Coppola edit. I've seen the Brownlow film three times, all with Carl Davis conducting, and all three times it was magnificent. It is one of my favotire film, and perhaps my favorite single film experience that first time.


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