A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Black Pirate -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist

    Feb 8, 1999
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    Robert Harris
    Albert Parker's 1926 The Black Pirate, starring Douglas Fairbanks is a wonderful and important silent film.

    As far as I understand it, the film in two color Technicolor does not survive, and this version was created from "B" negative and alternate takes.

    That would be wonderful if the quality of the film elements was up to par, but they are not. Copied decades ago to Eastman color negative, this Black Pirate, and as far as I know the only one in color, as the elements were claimed by the ever-litigeous Raymond Rohauer, hardly gives an idea of what this film would have looked like in 1926, when its colors were fresh and new.

    As it is, The Black Pirate is an interesting as it relates to Mr. Fairbanks' career, but hardly at all to the Technicolor technology of the era, which as opposed to multiple strips of film was photographed two frames at time -- over and under.

    Most two color productions were sequences, but The Black Pirate went all the way with Technicolor. There is some discussion in an extra of the print stock being glued together to form a bi-pack print, and this was a problem for early Technicolor, as the heat from the lamp would cause the inner film to buckle, and problems were the norm. Changes were to come at Technicolor, with the elimination of the glued stock and the development of the multi-layer imbibition process.

    Those seeking an interesting Fairbanks swashbuckler would do well with The Black Pirate, but under the current conditions of this two color, black & white might almost be more enjoyable. Viewers should note that the image is rather washed out at times, and needs a good helping of old fashioned density.

    An interesting artifact.

  2. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

    Sep 20, 2002
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    I'm going to offer a slightly different view on this. No argument from me on the look of course, you are absolutely right. I blind bought this one and found that while the colour is certainly washed out, the age of the film in my mind gave it a forgivable pass that I might not on a more recent film.

    I just wanted to say that it's more then an "interesting artifact", I found it a fantastic adventure that completely shows up the current pirate films with all their CGI. In fact, I watched it twice in the same week, showing it to friends who also left suitably impressed. Maybe it was low expectations ha ha.

    On an entertainment level, it more then succeeds for this viewer, even with the sub par technological aspect.

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