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A Sneak Peek at Zulu and Khartoum (1 Viewer)

haineshisway

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Today, I sat with Nick Redman and looked at the check discs of the new Twilight Time discs of Zulu and Khartoum. Obviously I was most interested in Zulu and how it compares to the UK transfer that has opinions divided straight down the middle: Those who think it looks great and those who think it's been slathered with DNR. I was more in the former camp than the latter, and while I understand why some would think it lacked some grain, this film was shot in Super Technirama 70, which, like VistaVision, should have little grain and what there is would be very fine - and I do see that in the Brit transfer. Certainly I saw and see no slathering of DNR because there's too much detail on view. A lot have pointed to "waxy" faces, but the actors are wearing very heavy and old-fashioned greasepaint makeup - it's quite obvious.

We spot-checked both transfers, watching long sequences of each. Here's what we both found: Detail is just about the same, but I'm also certain that those who want to see more than there is will see it. But to Nick's and my eyes, it's almost indistinguishable. Grain is still light on the Twilight Time transfer - maybe a hair more, but my opinion is that the element used is not as pristine as the UK - in fact, there are occasional white specks on the Twilight Time transfer, whereas the UK version is flawless in that regard. The major difference is the color - the UK is very saturated with really blue blues and especially really red reds, whereas the Twilight Time is less vivid in that regard, with reds that lean toward orange and slightly pale blues. I believe that the UK is more accurate in that regard, but some who don't like blue will probably prefer the Twilight Time.

But, and it's a big but - what makes the Twilight Time a must, even if you prefer the UK, which some will, is the sound - 2.0 stereo - REAL stereo, with REAL stereo music and it sounds fantastic. The mono or slight fake stereo sound on the UK is dreadful. So, for me, the Twilight Time is a must for the sound alone. While I prefer the color on the UK, it's really hard to get past the lousy sound. And, for folks like me, this is a title where I don't mind owning two different transfers.

Khartoum looks very good - I'd have preferred a hair more blue in the blues, but it's nitpicking - sound is great, score sounds great, and the detail is very nice. They don't make 'em like that anymore, and if you love the big epics, even the less than great ones, as I do, you'll definitely want to get this. Interestingly, of the four new releases, Khartoum is selling the best, with Man in the Dark right behind it, and Zulu right behind it - even Titus seems to be moving fine.
 

Robert Crawford

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I can't wait to see these BDs. As to sales, I'm not surprise that Zulu is behind those other two titles since many have bought the UK release like myself.
 

Charles Smith

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I'm actually new to all three. If I dare admit that. Really looking forward to all of them. And I do love me a less than great epic now and then.
 

John Hermes

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I ordered Khartoum and look forward to it. I'll probably stick with the British Zulu, though. While I would like to have the stereo sound, it's not worth the money to upgrade for me. I think the picture is fantastic on the British Zulu.
 

Persianimmortal

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Thanks for the honest comparison between the two Zulu releases. I'm still happy with the UK release, but it's good to hear that TT's version has a major selling point in the form of improved audio. Perhaps when TT's release gets reviewed, it will help settle whether the movie's lack of grain is an inherent issue and not due to excessive DNR.

Either way, the film is a great war/adventure tale and well worth having for any fan of classic movies. Both Khartoum and Zulu have many similarities to The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia in my opinion, so if you like those, I should think you'd like these two TT releases.
 

AnthonyClarke

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I couldn't justify Twilight Time's prices plus shipping to Australia just to get a stereo soundtrack .. but it certainly sounds as if the picture quality of my UK edition is as good as we will ever see on Blu ray.
 

haineshisway

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AnthonyClarke said:
I couldn't justify Twilight Time's prices plus shipping to Australia just to get a stereo soundtrack .. but it certainly sounds as if the picture quality of my UK edition is as good as we will ever see on Blu ray.
For me, the sound bump is quite major and makes quite a difference in the viewing experience. I should think anyone who goes with the Twilight Time will be happy, and for those who love the film and have a problem with the sound on the UK, which I definitely did, then having both isn't such a bad idea. I do that with a lot of films that I love - I'll buy every transfer and see which is best for me, or keep several if they each have pleasures that are unique to each. I realize not everyone can do that or would want to, but for certain films I just do. I'd bought the Italian Fistful of Dollars - really terrific transfer, miles ahead of the US Blu. Then it came out in Germany - we're told from the same restoration, so I bought that one and it didn't look as good - probably the authoring. So, didn't need to keep that one. Bought the latest Once Upon a Time in America from Italy, the supposed long version - horrible in every way, but I kept it just to have the extra scenes, bad as they are in both content and appearance.
 

AnthonyClarke

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I totally understand and just wish I could do the same ... I did buy both editions of 'The Tin Drum' and 'Black Narcissus' and several others to make sure I had the best editions .. most times I've been able to sell off the surplus copy with ease, but it seems no-one wants the UK 'The Tin Drum'!
 

OliverK

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haineshisway said:
Khartoum looks very good - I'd have preferred a hair more blue in the blues, but it's nitpicking - sound is great, score sounds great, and the detail is very nice. They don't make 'em like that anymore, and if you love the big epics, even the less than great ones, as I do, you'll definitely want to get this. Interestingly, of the four new releases, Khartoum is selling the best, with Man in the Dark right behind it, and Zulu right behind it - even Titus seems to be moving fine.
Not getting into that Zulu argument again about waxy faces etc. ;) but just wanted to comment on the blues in Khartoum: These were also a bit subdued in the new 70mm print that I saw twice so I am not surprised about that. Looking at the low bitrate MGM airing I was always bummed that in no way it could keep up with the detail on display whenever there was any significant movement on screen and I am sure that I will not have that problem anymore with the TT disc.
 

nara

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haineshisway said:
this film was shot in Super Technirama 70.
Apologies for possibly being uber-picky, but no film was ever SHOT in Super Technirama 70. It was the display format used when the horizontal 35mm Technirama negative was printed up to 70mm.Zulu was shot in Technirama.
 

ROclockCK

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I'm afraid this debate over image will just have to carry on without me folks...basically, TT had me at "John Barry isolated". And even better news, I'll now get to hear this landmark score in stereo while watching the actual film. Heck, if MGM's transfer of Zulu was hand-colored with Crayolas, I'd probably still prefer it because of the pivotal role that sound and music played in the impact of this classic.

For me, AQ trumps PQ with this baby...
 

Robert Crawford

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Persianimmortal said:
Thanks for the honest comparison between the two Zulu releases. I'm still happy with the UK release, but it's good to hear that TT's version has a major selling point in the form of improved audio. Perhaps when TT's release gets reviewed, it will help settle whether the movie's lack of grain is an inherent issue and not due to excessive DNR.

Either way, the film is a great war/adventure tale and well worth having for any fan of classic movies. Both Khartoum and Zulu have many similarities to The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia in my opinion, so if you like those, I should think you'd like these two TT releases.
Not in this lifetime. :)
 

OliverK

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Robert Crawford said:
Not in this lifetime. :)
To be fair I do not think that too many claim that the UK version of Zulu has not seen some form of noise/grain reduction, the question is whether it was too much. To me it is unwatchable as it is (the curse of a front projection system one might say) so I hope that the TT version will be an improvement for me, I ordered it together with Khartoum.
 

Robert Crawford

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OliverK said:
To be fair I do not think that too many claim that the UK version of Zulu has not seen some form of noise/grain reduction, the question is whether it was too much. To me it is unwatchable as it is (the curse of a front projection system one might say) so I hope that the TT version will be an improvement for me, I ordered it together with Khartoum.
There was a vocal dissent about this BD being bad just like there was a vocal approval for this BD. How was I not being fair with my comment about "not in this lifetime" comment about the following:
Perhaps when TT's release gets reviewed, it will help settle whether the movie's lack of grain is an inherent issue and not due to excessive DNR.
 

Persianimmortal

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I'm not sure why it wouldn't settle the issue if the TT release, which is from a different source, and presumably not heavily digitally modified, has much the same grain and detail as the earlier UK release?
 

Robert Crawford

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Persianimmortal said:
I'm not sure why it wouldn't settle the issue if the TT release, which is from a different source, and presumably not heavily digitally modified, has much the same grain and detail as the earlier UK release?
Because such arguments are rarely settled in these type of discussions. Certain individuals have a tendency to dig in their heals due to their constant need to be right with their POV.
 

Robert Crawford

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Persianimmortal said:
Ok then we'll take it to a screencap comparison. That always resolves the issue, if I'm not mistaken ;)
In the end, it really doesn't matter as what looks good on my display while viewing it with my eyes takes precedence over anything what some others might have to say about a certain BD. The same should apply to each of us despite our need for confirmation from others.
 

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