Senior HTF Member
- Feb 8, 1999
- Real Name
- Robert Harris
All very good points, and thank you for taking on the Jancso films.That's all fine in the abstract, and I understand what you're going for, but in practice, what you would hope for isn't within the realm of possibility regardless of education and calibration. Reviewing is indeed a subjective process, but it cant' be anything else. How exactly can anyone determine if something has been altered from its original look? How can they determine accuracy, or the original intent of the filmmakers? That may be possible in some cases, but it's completely impossible in others.
An example: I'm currently finishing up the Miklós Jancsó Collection from Kino, for a review to be posted later this week. I'm quite familiar with Jancsó, but my exposure to his films has been via VHS, laserdisc, and DVD. Even if I had managed to catch repertory showings of 35mm prints, what guarantee is there that the colors on those prints were still accurate? Any current repertory showings are now going to be via DCPs of the NFI restorations, so again, what frame of reference could I have to judge them against the intentions of Jancsó, Tamas Somló, and János Kende? Kende appears to have supervised the grades on three of the restorations, but Jancsó and Somló are no longer with us, and who's to say that Kende hasn't revised the look compared to the original intentions? Look at all the different Dean Cundey approved grades on home video to see how the same cinematographer can change his mind repeatedly. And even if I'd seen each and every one of these films during their original theatrical releases, those were between forty and fifty years ago. Anyone, and I do mean anyone, who tells you that they can accurately remember the color timing of a given film from decades ago is selling swampland to you.
I just watched the UHD for Top Gun last weekend, which I freely admit that I've never seen before, and I've read various comments about the accuracy of the HDR grade on that compared to previous versions. But in this case, we're talking about Blu-ray, DVD, laserdisc, and even VHS. How accurate were any of those? Again, anyone who tells you what the timing originally looked like theatrically is full of hot air. That was 35 years ago. To me, it looked good, but was it accurate? How could I tell if it wasn't?
Fortunately, I didn't have to review that one, but I am taking care of Jancsó, so I have to make judgement calls, and they're definitely subjective, regardless of experience or calibration. For the record, I'm running a calibrated JVC RS200, so in theory at least, I should be seeing what's on the disc represented fairly. But judging quality is still subjective -- up to a point, at least. Now, can we all do better? Yes, as with all things in life, we should strive to improve our knowledge, experience, and abilities. Some things shouldn't be given a pass the way that they have been, and I agree with you about that. The goal should try to compare to the original intentions of the filmmakers as much as possible, but you have to acknowledge that they change their minds and their views, so even that requires some subjective interpretation. And in many cases, especially with catalogue titles, you simply have to judge if it looks good to you. That will always be subjective. Should things improve? Yes, they should. Can the situation be "resolved," as you say? No, it can't, regardless of the circumstances. Even if every single reviewer had RAHs knowledge and experience, they'd still be faced with films for which they have no frame of reference, and for which none can be determined, so all they can do is make a subjective judgement.
Film prints didn’t really have high dynamic range, and certainly didn’t have Dolby Vision.
What we see via HDR is generally from the original negative. Add HDR to a dupe or fine grain and you’re off in the rough.
Anything shot on film, with HDR added in digital space will not represent an original projected print except under perfect projection circumstances and a perfectly timed print. And even then the HDR variant takes the imagery beyond what it might have been.
How many theaters ran at 14 footlamberts?