The Sheik is an important film from Hollywood’s silent era, and as far as production values, appears every year of its age, as in still early for the technology.

While I applaud Paramount heralding the film’s 100th anniversary, I’m a bit confused by the use of the word “restoration” attached to the new release.

Giving credit where due, there is no original negative, or quality pre-print surviving on the subject, which means that any restorative efforts go to 35mm prints, dupes and 16mm versions.

And that what we appear to have.

A reconstruction of sorts – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but without any seeming rhyme nor reason to how it was reconfigured.

Examples:

The first shot that hits the screen is the main title, which appears to be from a well-loved 35mm source, but with wear all at the fore.

Some inter-titles appear too have been culled from surviving 16mm sources, while others – in different formats, typestyles, etc appear to be from 35. There seems to be no overall cohesiveness to the presentation.

Much of the production footage is quite lovely for the era, and that’s the highlight.

It’s understandable that there’s always an innate fear at the studio level of putting heavy funding into the restoration of a film that sits firmly in the public domain, but other studios do it, and without the ability, which Paramount did have, to place a New Edition copyright on their work for certain parts of the restoration. It doesn’t remove the base work from the PD, but it makes it difficult for other distributors to grab their work as a totality.

So what do we have?

An interesting composite version of the 1921 film, along with a quality original score created by Roger Ballon for the 75th anniversary of the film in 1996.

Having worked with silent films and synchronized scores, I can offer the fact that making visual changes, updating elements or massaging an earlier restoration is akin to opening Pandora’s box.

You don’t want to do it unless absolutely necessary, especially with recorded scores.

Which leads me to wonder aloud if that’s what occurred here?

Might the studio have been locked into the work performed using an older reconstructed element, with the need to remain in sync?

A distinct possibility.

But be aware that the word “restored” may, at least in this case, denote something that occurred decades ago, and that needs to be refreshed.

Image – 2.5

Audio – n/a

Pass / Fail – Pass

Recommended

RAH
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Robert Harris

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Angelo Colombus

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It would have been nice if Paramount included a commentary that was done on the Kino release. Watching the film you can see how it catapulted Valentino to a movie star.
 

JoeDoakes

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The Sheik is an important film from Hollywood's silent era, and as far as production values, appears every year of its age, as in still early for the technology.

While I applaud Paramount heralding the film's 100th anniversary, I'm a bit confused by the use of the word "restoration" attached to the new release.

Giving credit where due, there is no original negative, or quality pre-print surviving on the subject, which means that any restorative efforts go to 35mm prints, dupes and 16mm versions.

And that what we appear to have.

A reconstruction of sorts - and there's nothing wrong with that - but without any seeming rhyme nor reason to how it was reconfigured.

Examples:

The first shot that hits the screen is the main title, which appears to be from a well-loved 35mm source, but with wear all at the fore.

Some inter-titles appear too have been culled from surviving 16mm sources, while others - in different formats, typestyles, etc appear to be from 35. There seems to be no overall cohesiveness to the presentation.

Much of the production footage is quite lovely for the era, and that's the highlight.

It's understandable that there's always an innate fear at the studio level of putting heavy funding into the restoration of a film that sits firmly in the public domain, but other studios do it, and without the ability, which Paramount did have, to place a New Edition copyright on their work for certain parts of the restoration. It doesn't remove the base work from the PD, but it makes it difficult for other distributors to grab their work as a totality.

So what do we have?

An interesting composite version of the 1921 film, along with a quality original score created by Roger Ballon for the 75th anniversary of the film in 1996.

Having worked with silent films and synchronized scores, I can offer the fact that making visual changes, updating elements or massaging an earlier restoration is akin to opening Pandora's box.

You don't want to do it unless absolutely necessary, especially with recorded scores.

Which leads me to wonder aloud if that's what occurred here?

Might the studio have been locked into the work performed using an older reconstructed element, with the need to remain in sync?

A distinct possibility.

But be aware that the word "restored" may, at least in this case, denote something that occurred decades ago, and that needs to be refreshed.

Image – 2.5

Audio – n/a

Pass / Fail – Pass

Recommended

RAH
Given the lack of original elements and the various prints that they might have had to use to put together a complete film, what would be done in a proper "restoration"?
 

Robert Harris

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Given the lack of original elements and the various prints that they might have had to use to put together a complete film, what would be done in a proper "restoration"?
A bit more stabilization; making splices less evident; a more matching set of inter-titles of the same quality, even if newly prepared. For me, it was a matter of cohesiveness.
 

Thomas T

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Sounds like I can keep the KL Blu-ray of The Sheik and not "upgrade"
2.5 = pass ?? :) I guess all things considered ...
Any easy upgrade for me purely on the music scores. The KL has one of those awful organ scores and this one doesn't so for me it's a no brainer.
 

Colin Jacobson

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Any easy upgrade for me purely on the music scores. The KL has one of those awful organ scores and this one doesn't so for me it's a no brainer.

I disliked the score for the Paramount "Sheik". It's all on some cheap synthesizer and sounds like some dude did it in his basement.

Given the pandemic, that might be true! :D
 

Arthur Powell

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I disliked the score for the Paramount "Sheik". It's all on some cheap synthesizer and sounds like some dude did it in his basement.

Given the pandemic, that might be true! :D
The score was actually done in the early 1990s for Paramount's VHS release. I've heard parts of the score, and it sounds funky for a lack of a better term. It's definitely nothing remotely traditional, but I'll give it a fair hearing once I receive the disc.
 

Colin Jacobson

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The score was actually done in the early 1990s for Paramount's VHS release. I've heard parts of the score, and it sounds funky for a lack of a better term. It's definitely nothing remotely traditional, but I'll give it a fair hearing once I receive the disc.


Thanks! The packaging for the Blu-ray implies that it's a new score, and since this was my first time with the movie, I didn't know about prior releases.

Yeah, it sounds like a circa 1986 synthesizer.

OMMV, but I thought the score was lousy - at least as reproduced. The music itself might've been fine, but the crappy synth ruined it.

I'd have preferred a basic organ or piano score. Or this score re-recorded!
 

warnerbro

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So is this new edition worth the upgrade from the Kino dvd…???
Absolutely. There's no comparison. This new Paramount print is gorgeous. It is detailed and has beautiful, rich, velvety contrast. It is scratched up in some scenes but overall beautiful. It almost looks 3-D in places it is so sharp. Most of the intertitles look like they are culled from a beat-up 16mm print and it is jarring to see these come between the beautiful 35mm print. There is a lackluster short documentary that is pretty disappointing for a film celebrating its 100 birthday. I would have loved to see information on where they got the print and also a commentary. I like the music track. It was what I heard when I first saw this film on PBS in the 80s.