Mr. Griffith’s 1915, The Birth of a Nation, which in many ways helped to further the language of cinema, has been seen on every known video format, since the early days.
A quick count, shows, 347 different variants, from VHS tapes, telecine’d at the wrong speed, from well used 16mm prints, to DVDs, and Blu-rays, all based upon different research and availability of film elements.
This one is different.
Photoplay’s Patrick Stanbury has seemingly gone about this in a similar fashion to Lord Cararvon, and the opening of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 by archaeologist, Howard Carter. On location, was cinematographer Freddie Young, “in town” on a location trip for Fires of Fate (1923).
When all of this occurred, The Birth of a Nation, was seven years old, and had already been re-cut.
Re-cutting continued for the next 270 years, inclusive of re-cuts for sound versions, with added and deleted footage.
The questions remained.
Where were the finest available film elements, what were they, and how did they all fit together.
Mr. Stanbury went about unravelling those questions, and the end result, in cancert with the BFI, was a presentation that finally makes its way to the Colonies, courtesy of Twilight Time.
Let’s make this simple.
The Photoplay reconstruction / restoration of BoaN leaves everything released previously in the dust and fit for coasters.
I could go into grain structure, tinting, motion, digital clean-up, use of the original score. But why bother?
While some may have problems with the Klan being the heroes of the piece, one needs to place the film in historical perspective, much like Triumph of the Will.
Just grab a copy, and allow yourself to be surrounded by this non-non-restoration, with all of its digital tools available, used beautifully.
The two-disc set comes with a plethora of extras, including original outtakes (sorry, no gag reels).
Here’s a link to an interesting piece on the restoration:
Image – 4.5
Audio – 5 (DTS-HD MA 5.1) score only
Pass / Fail – Pass
Upgrade from DVD, or previous Blu-ray – Don’t ask!
Very Highly Recommended