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

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I think the Blu-ray of The Robe looks simply splendid. I will be grateful if Demetrius and the Gladiators approaches it in quality. The DVD we have now is filled with dirt and debris.
     
  2. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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    Twilight Time did confirm that they are using a new transfer for their disc. Looks very promising.
    Actually haven't gotten around to watching The Robe despite owning the blu-ray. This upcoming Easter will probably change that. Might make a good double feature with the upcoming Twilight Time disc.
     
  3. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    The commentary track on THE ROBE is one of my favs since I am a film score buff. Love that track.
     
  4. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

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    As we all know now, the BD of Demetrius and the Gladiators was a big disappointment. I just viewed it and was not pleased. No clean-up work done and there were some color and resolution issues. It deserved the same treatment as The Robe, but didn't get it. I can't believe that Fox has no plans for it beyond the 2k scan done for this release. More asset protection work needs to be done, since I have a very hard time believing that any "restoration" was done on the title as described earlier in this thread. The audio is not configured correctly. It's L-R-LS-RS. Not L-C-R-S. A shame.
     
  5. Guest

    The word on Demetrius was that the exisiting elements are dupes and the OCN is unusable, unlike The Robe and The Egyptian.
     
  6. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

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    The press release for the BD stated that the OCN was 'severely deteriorated'. The OCN on How to Marry a Millionaire was also severely deteriorated with severe vinegar syndrome and could still be used for an image harvest. I'm assuming that the OCN could not be used on the budget that the studio would alot for this. I'd like to her about what exactly the studio has done in terms of preserving Demetrius, such as creating a new IP for longevity's sake. Regardless, the BD should have looked better.
     
  7. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter

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    I like this historical perspective Mr. Harris, and have used it myself, although not stated quite as succinctly. Some movies really do represent that kind of 'game change' in production/exhibition technology and effect on audiences, and I agree that The Robe was certainly one of them. In terms of cinema's meta timeline, there's "BR"...and "AR"* if you will. ;) This Blu-ray release is also "special" in another key respect; the fact that The Robe was not only shot but also completed both spherically and anamorphically, with both versions available in this edition via the P-I-P feature. Seldom have we had the privilege of seeing what might have been had studio decisions about a new filmmaking technology gone the other way. The only other example that immediately comes to mind is The Big Trail, presented in both Academy and Grandeur formats**. The staging and performances, as well as the overall rythmn of scenes in the flat vs. 'scope versions of these films were markedly different during many stretches, and as a movie geek, I'm grateful to be able to finally see that. If nothing else, by including this 'parallel universe' flat version of The Robe Fox has provided a rare insight into how much of an effect the introduction of widescreen composition had on the 'feel' of the entire era of films that followed. * Cheesy pun intended, and hopefully forgiven. ** I suppose the recent aspect ratio buffet on Criterion's On the Waterfront Blu-ray would qualify, but I don't quite count it...even though its various framings played quite differently, they were not shot separately.
     
  8. Guest

    I can't watch the Demetrius blu ray. The audio sync is just off way too much on my copy.
     
  9. Billy Batson

    Billy Batson Cinematographer

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    I'm still hoping that The Robe gets a UK release (the US release is region locked). Two region locked Fox catalogue titles are at last being released in the UK this June, Patton & The Sand Pebbles. This is not a huge favorite of mine, but 50's ancient world epic, the first cinemascope film, plus extras, I'd just have to buy it.
     
  10. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

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    If it gets a reissue, it'd be nice to see a second disc included with the flat version. That way the film could be viewed in its entirety with sound synced. It'd also be nice to see a release of Demetrius and the Gladiators overseas in the UK. Even though I don't import titles, I would certainly make an exception for a superior UK release of Demetrius.
     
  11. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

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    That is one of the major reasons why I didn't buy it, since I wasn't sure if it would work on my player. Incorrectly configured audio and a disappointing transfer also were major factors in my decision not to purchase.
     
  12. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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  13. skylark68

    skylark68 Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Dr. Griffin. Great article. It really sheds some light on how much work goes into restoration on a film that has deteriorated quite a bit. I actually enjoy this film quite a bit, but have always liked Biblical epics for the most part.
     
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  14. Ed Lachmann

    Ed Lachmann Supporting Actor

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    Personally, I love The Robe, great story, simply incredible score by Alfred Newman, the remarkable Caligula that Jay Robison contributed, Victor Mature in certainly his finest performance. The Fox restoration blu-ray is at the top of my most prized and re-watched. I'm also really pleased with the TT blu-ray of Demetrius (far more than Hawaii). I guess I'm just hoping for more of them to come out in HD, meticulously restored or not and maybe from the WB Archive, especially Robert Wise's fabulous Helen of Troy.
     
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  15. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    Wow, worse than Demetrius BD (which I've seen through a friend). That is some food for thought since I haven't ordered Hawaii yet. As bad as the DVD is of Demetrius it has directional dialogue and didn't look as bad as I remembered, and I never got the TT Blu-ray.
     
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  16. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    On Academy Awards day, The Robe was nominated for Best Picture; Best Actor: Richard Burton; Color Cinematography: Leon Shamroy; Color Art Direction/Set Decoration, for which it won; Color Costume Design,for which it won.
     
  17. 97 Oct 9, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2016
    benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    [​IMG]


    Just watched this one again for maybe the first time since 2009 (when it came out on blu-ray), and some thoughts have come to mind....

    I won't claim that "The Robe" is a great film—although elements of it, esp. the Newman score and the pioneering use of CinemaScope are great—and I admit that it's easy to make fun of these somewhat ponderous Ancient world/Biblical epics, which was done amusingly just this year in the movie "Hail Caesar!", and yet there's something about films like this that appeal to me. Part of it is the magnificent music, the production values, and the mood. But there's more that I have trouble putting my finger on. But I guess maybe part of it is this—and several film historians have made this point—in some ways Rome can to at least a degree be seen to stand in for the United States at the time. The US was much more good than bad, and I'm quite patriotic about my country even with its flaws, but at times in its history the US has sometimes been brutal and corrupt and sordid. This interpretation can be overdone, but I think there's a grain of truth to it. In "Spartacus" from 1960 there are clear references in a couple of places to the evils of McCarthyism—and we know from the screenplay writers that this was intended. Shifting approaches now, I also think that to a degree the religious themes need to be taken seriously and at face value. Here too, the goodness of JC and many of his followers, whether you are a believer or not (and I confess I am not, even though I believe he was a wise and profound man), is put in contrast with Roman society society in a way that struck a cord, I think, with some audiences in the 1950s—and even today. The yearning for a better world, and a more moral one, which is part of the fabric of this film and others like it, is not entirely to be dismissed as Hollywood fakery imho.

    In terms of reading these movies on some levels as metaphors and analogies, that can be complicated. First, like most here probably, I think that many good to great films are multilayered and also multivalent. You can peel them like layers of an onion, in an interpretive sense, and yet finding a layer below does not at all invalidate the reality of the layers above. And so going back to the beginning, the outer layer, which some might consider the most important, is to read the Roman Empire of "The Robe" as exactly what it seems—a Hollywood interpretation of the Roman Empire. And that is completely valid and the most straightforward interpretation. Another layer, which movie historians have looked at, is how these movies played out in terms of the Cold War. To state the obvious, this is a religious movie, and at the time it was made we were facing the, to be blunt, evil of Stalin's Soviet Union—which banned and oppressed religions of all kinds. But on the other hand, the decadence of the Roman Empire seen in The Robe doesn't quite fit with our images of Soviet life at the time. That decadence, as some have noted, can be read as a reference to some aspects of the US. Also, when the Emperor asks Burton's character for a precise list of names of the traitors, some have read this (and there are similar things in Spartacus) as a reference to the HUAC witch hunts of the time. But my main point is that all of these are probably valid at the same time. The Roman Empire of the film might be metaphorically seen as the Soviet Empire, but it also seems to reference and critique some aspects of the United States, which in the 1950s had also, for the first time, become a global imperial power—both militarily and culturally. But finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Roman Empire in The Robe can be read as just that—the Roman Empire in its creative Hollywood incarnation.
     
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  18. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    The score for The Robe by Alfred Newman is quite something. Here's a good article on it by Craig Lysy from Movie Music UK:

    https://moviemusicuk.us/2012/07/19/the-robe-alfred-newman/

    “Prelude – Main Title” unfolds to the 20th Century Fox logo and plays through the opening credits. We open with dramatic solemnity as Newman sets the tone of the story’s narrative with a reverential statement announced by heraldic horns, which yield to dolorosa strings, wordless chorus and sparkling glockenspiel. Evocative and compelling, we understand that this will be a journey not soon forgotten. “Rome” opens with a narrative spoken by Richard Burton that extols the power, grandeur and brutality of Rome. Newman supports this narrative by scoring the scene alla marcia di Roma, playing to the military power of the Roman state. A primary trumpet line supported by snare drums carry the Roman Motif with a purposeful and deliberate pace. At 1:30 as Marcellus enters the forum we shift gears and segue into a carefree dance-like melody carried by flute, kindred woodwinds, tambourine and metallic percussion. The piece meanders, mirroring Marcellus’ stroll through the marketplace. Newman perfectly captures the ambiance.

    In “The Slave Market” Diana enters the scene and woodwinds introduce with harp and tambourine accompaniment, the B Phrase of the Love Theme. The theme’s expression here is not overtly romantic, rather it is gentile and flows with a slow almost dance-like cadence as Diana reacquaints Marcellus with his childhood sweetheart, who he has forgotten. In “Caligula’s Arrival” the heir apparent arrives to join the bidding for household slaves. The scene’s ambiance is shattered as we bear witness to Caligula’s Theme, which perfectly captures the character of this twisted and evil boy destined to be emperor. When Marcellus outbids him and shames him publicly, the die is cast and he soon receives orders from a vengeful Caligula to deploy in Palestine. The march is reprised with his departure in “Caligula’s Departure” .

    “The Map of Jerusalem” is a standout cue of the score, which features a full and sumptuous expression of the Love Theme. We see Marcellus and his family receiving the grim news of his immediate deployment orders. Newman creates a complex musical tapestry where his themes interplay and entwine. We open with woodwinds subtly carrying the Love theme, which reflects Marcellus’ inner thoughts. As his father discusses Palestine Newman introduces ethnic Middle Eastern textures, evocative of Palestine, which interplay with harsh vengeful echoes of Caligula’s Theme on horns. He concludes the scene with a trumpet and drum carried marcia funebre, as it is Caligula’s desire that Marcellus die in Palestine. At 1:23 we change scenes to the dock where Marcellus is preparing to depart. Diana comes to say goodbye and tell him of her undying love, a confession for which he reciprocates. Newman appreciates the poignancy of this scene and provides an extended statement of his Love Theme, which features all three phrases. Its expression here is simply sublime, culminating with a horn flourish that leaves one breathless. Themes such as this are why I love film score music!"

    (Much more at the link.)

     
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  19. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    For any fan of old films who doesn't have The Robe, it's currently c. $10 at amazon.
     
  20. 100 Oct 9, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2016
    davidmatychuk

    davidmatychuk Screenwriter

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    This Fox "Own The Moments" set containing the Blu-Rays of "The Robe" and "The Bible" was still $8.99 at a Vancouver Best Buy store a few days ago. And that's in our Canadian money, which is only worth 75% of your Trump Bucks (or Hillary Dollars, if you prefer). Honestly, I wonder how many more first-rate Blu-Ray editions of movies like "The Robe" we'll be getting at those prices. That said, $8.99 for this is some kind of bargain.

    IMG_4352.JPG
     
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