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A few words about...™ - Foolish Wives -- in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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I know of what I speak. And I'll say this loud and clear.

Foolish Wives has been available for decades as just another dupey piece of public domain fodder. Kino used an earlier (pre-digital) quality restoration effort.

While some have understood it's importance in film history, few have understood the dynamics - the ful technical attributes of the production, using many of the image and color technologies available at the time, exclusive of Technicolor.

The research and restorative efforts performed by James Layton and Peter Williamson, and many others from MOMA, David Byrne and his team from The San Francisco Film Festival, and all of the laboratories involved in this work have created something that I never envisioned seeing.

Kudos must also go to those individuals, entities and foundations that financially supported this important work.

Based upon very sparse extant film elements, Erich von Stroheim's 1922 epic production has been brought back to life with all of its tints, tones and hand-painted effects intact. For those unaware, Foolish Wives was one of the, if not The most expensive film produced to that date.

A wonderful orchestral score has been created and conducted by Timothy Brock that beautifully fits the imagery.

Digital work has not been over-used, allowing the original film elements to retain the appearance of film.

I'll leave it to others to go into the history and background of the film and its players, but from a strictly archival / film restoration perspective, MOMA and SFSSF created one of the finest restorative efforts in recent years.

Flicker Alley has taken these digital materials (the restoration was completed in 2020) and created a package of documentaries, featurettes and extras commensurate with the subject matter, and as someone with their own silent film restoration arriving on Blu-ray in October, I can honestly state that in my humble opinion, Foolish Wives will be the most important silent film release of 2023.

Two discs are included in the package - a DVD as well as a Blu-ray, along with 24 page color booklet.

Be advised that in the scheme of things, that the current price of about $40 may sound expensive to some, but this package is worth far more, and your investment supports film restoration and history.

Image – 3.5

Audio – n/a

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors - Yes

Worth your attention - 10

Upgrade from DVD and previous Blu-rays - Absolutely!

Slipcover rating - n/a

Very Highly Recommended

RAH


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Angelo Colombus

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Thanks to my local library i will get a chance to see the film for the first time when they get the disc. I look forward to seeing it and will look at my disc collection to view the documentary The Man You Loved To Hate (1979) about the life of Erich von Stroheim.
 
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ahollis

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Thanks for your Few Words. I have placed my order for it And looking forward to viewing it.
 
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lark144

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I ordered this direct from Flicker Alley, so I've already had it for a few weeks and have watched it twice. This used to be an interesting palimpsest of a possible silent classic, faded and ravaged by time, but still with a spark, though that fire was almost extinguished. Now it is simply overwhelming. Before you had to make assumptions about what the images might have looked like way back then. Now, this film lives and breathes, comes alive. It's simply extraordinary; the details of costume and decor, the use of light, the subtlety of the performances, so different from what we usually attribute to silent film acting, those broad strokes and overdone pantomimes. The theatricality in this film is quite different. These are real people, aristo con artists playing a role they know too well, so there's this constant duality, shown in glances or gestures so slight they can hardly be discerned. It's amazing, the lived-in quality of these frames, the people and places. For me, it's the film of the year. Not just a "silent" film, but for all time, also right now.
 

OliverK

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Robert Byrne (SFSFF) and Dave Kehr (MOMA) talk about the restoration at the Cinema Ritrovato Festival 2022:



It is really mostly Robert Bryne and the viewer is getting some good insight into the challenges they faced when restoring Foolish Wives and also into the effort made to bring us this new and improved version. I was a bit surprised that again a decision was made to create a completely new score.
 
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Rob W

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Is it just me, or is the score on this disc mono and not stereo ? My receiver only plays it back through the centre channel speaker, and when I switch it to stereo playback I hear no real stereo whatsoever from the two front speakers.
 

bujaki

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My copy cost me $29.95 via Flicker Alley. I don't have it yet because I bundled it with Laurel & Hardy Year One which will be released July 25.
 
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ArnoldLayne

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My copy cost me $29.95 via Flicker Alley. I don't have it yet because I bundled it with Laurel & Hardy Year One which will be released July 25.
Their 'sale price' is now 34.95 + 3 tax + 10 shipping. I'll have to wait just a bit to pick this up.
 

kpjwest

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Sometime around 45 years ago I saw the MOMA nitrate of Greed. It was beautiful and the movie made a big impression on me. A decade or so later I saw on TV the TCM “restoration” which added an hour or so of stills and original inter titles to restore the story as closely as possible to the story as presented in Stroheim’s 5 hour cut. I thought it added a lot but I was also watching it on a 27 inch TV. I seem to recall that the TCM version had some tinting and toning in the stills, and perhaps in the film too, but as I recall the nitrate was just beautiful black and white. Looking at Foolish Wives makes me hope something similar could be done with Greed. With the MOMA nitrate as source, it should look even better than Foolish Wives. The 2 hour original release version should be properly presented with tinting and toning, and a TCM style “restoration” as a bonus. I gather that there are records of the kind of tinting and toning and hand painting that were on first release prints and the 5 hour version, even if none of that is evident in the MOMA print.
 

Angelo Colombus

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Finished watching the disc thanks to my local library and liked the film. The extras on it were great including the restoration process and the story behind the making of the film and the director.
 

Ed Lachmann

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One hopes that an HD version of Blind Husbands might be offered at some time in the future. I revisited the Kino DVD recently and would love to see an improvement of this classic as well.
 

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