Today, I sat with Nick Redman and looked at the check discs of the new Twilight Time discs of Zulu and Khartoum. Obviously I was most interested in Zulu and how it compares to the UK transfer that has opinions divided straight down the middle: Those who think it looks great and those who think it's been slathered with DNR. I was more in the former camp than the latter, and while I understand why some would think it lacked some grain, this film was shot in Super Technirama 70, which, like VistaVision, should have little grain and what there is would be very fine - and I do see that in the Brit transfer. Certainly I saw and see no slathering of DNR because there's too much detail on view. A lot have pointed to "waxy" faces, but the actors are wearing very heavy and old-fashioned greasepaint makeup - it's quite obvious.
We spot-checked both transfers, watching long sequences of each. Here's what we both found: Detail is just about the same, but I'm also certain that those who want to see more than there is will see it. But to Nick's and my eyes, it's almost indistinguishable. Grain is still light on the Twilight Time transfer - maybe a hair more, but my opinion is that the element used is not as pristine as the UK - in fact, there are occasional white specks on the Twilight Time transfer, whereas the UK version is flawless in that regard. The major difference is the color - the UK is very saturated with really blue blues and especially really red reds, whereas the Twilight Time is less vivid in that regard, with reds that lean toward orange and slightly pale blues. I believe that the UK is more accurate in that regard, but some who don't like blue will probably prefer the Twilight Time.
But, and it's a big but - what makes the Twilight Time a must, even if you prefer the UK, which some will, is the sound - 2.0 stereo - REAL stereo, with REAL stereo music and it sounds fantastic. The mono or slight fake stereo sound on the UK is dreadful. So, for me, the Twilight Time is a must for the sound alone. While I prefer the color on the UK, it's really hard to get past the lousy sound. And, for folks like me, this is a title where I don't mind owning two different transfers.
Khartoum looks very good - I'd have preferred a hair more blue in the blues, but it's nitpicking - sound is great, score sounds great, and the detail is very nice. They don't make 'em like that anymore, and if you love the big epics, even the less than great ones, as I do, you'll definitely want to get this. Interestingly, of the four new releases, Khartoum is selling the best, with Man in the Dark right behind it, and Zulu right behind it - even Titus seems to be moving fine.