Any word on MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (1942) on DVD?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Darren Gross, Jan 6, 2002.

  1. Darren Gross

    Darren Gross Supporting Actor

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    A friend mentioned that AMBERSONS is supposed to come out on DVD this year. I've heard nothing about this and it seems that if it's not scheduled for this month or next than Warners is completely missing the window where it will be strongly in the public awareness thanks to the A & E miniseries (which airs next Sunday)...
    They're so adamant about catalog titles having some kind of newly publicizable 'brand value' that it's odd for them to miss this opportunity. Any info? I'd love to hear it- thanks!
    [​IMG]
    You have GOT to see THIS!
     
  2. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    There is an R2 SE available in France. You can find it at Amazon.fr
     
  3. Hendrik

    Hendrik Supporting Actor

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  4. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    So what about a region one release for folks that don't have all-region players? [​IMG] Actually, I think I did hear something about this being worked on. Hopefully, Warner will give it the treatment they gave Citizen Kane.
     
  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    According to WB in the latest HTF chat, most of the RKO catalog isn't in great shape.
     
  6. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    Welles' expert Jonathan Rosenbaum doesn't seem to think the mini-series is going to be quite what you're expecting.
     
  7. Jeff Wilson

    Jeff Wilson Stunt Coordinator

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    The mini-series is NOT a remake of Welles' film. Much was changed and added to the script, including the addition of the book's happy ending, the excision of the voice over narration, and a blunt emphasis on incest that is hardly overt in either the novel or Welles' script. The mini-series is basically using Welles' name to garner publicity. Don't watch this and expect to see anything resembling the original 1942 film. Arau has stated that he doesn't care for the original film.
     
  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    The first thing I noticed as the A&E movie started was the statement "Based on the screenplay by Orson Welles" which I figured meant they took the liberty to change as much as they wanted. The incest theme was one that irritated me. I have seen the original many times and read the book and though I can see how this theme might be irresistable, I seriously doubt either Welles or Tarkington intended it that way.

    My understanding was that this was not supposed to be a "remake" but more of a restoration. I clearly remember when this project was started that there was a promise to faithfully adhere to Welles' original screenplay in an effort to "restore" the film that was literally destroyed by the studio. As far as the ending in the original, Welles was appalled when it was added. The best I can remember, the ending in the A&E version is really what Welles wanted.
     
  9. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    According to an article I read on the IMDB, some of the cast complained that the director was obessed with the incest part of the film more than anything else.

    I would compare this to remaking Citizen Kane and dwelling on the life of Kane's butler (gave last "flashback" in Kane).

    The biggest shame the makers of this miniseries is that they should have put the money they used to restore the superior 1942 film and have IT released instead. Enough remakes already!
     
  10. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Since all traces of the removed footage was destroyed, I don't know how it could possibly be restored. That is the real shame of it all.
     
  11. Nathan_H

    Nathan_H Stunt Coordinator

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    We have the script, continuity, some audio, and stills. One could re-assemble the existing footage into the right order, remove the non-Welles footage, and bridge the gaps with the non-film material -- perhaps as a "bonus" on a DVD release of the film "as is"?

    I'd pre-order today :)
     
  12. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    I suppose it would be possible to "restore" the film by including photo montages a la A STAR IS BORN and GREED, except that no SOUND remains from the cut footage, either. The chances of someone coming across the missing footage in a barn in Idaho or something are about nil, though stranger things have happened. I think, as painful as it was to Welles and is now to us, we must accept the fact that 88m is the running time of this movie, period. As for Warner releasing it to DVD, it will be a while. When and if they do it, it will no doubt look better than it's ever looked before. A running commentary by Robert Wise, who edited the film, would be outstanding (quick, Warner, this man is no spring chicken).
     
  13. Jeff Wilson

    Jeff Wilson Stunt Coordinator

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    The ending of the A&E mini-series was not the ending Welles wanted; this ironically was changed once again from his original screenplay. As for the missing footage, those interested should check out the January 2002 issue of Vanity Fair for a superb article about the mutilation of the film and the hunt through the years for either the lost footage, or the missing print that was sent to Welles while he was in Brazil making It's All True. Welles left the print in Brazil when he returned to the US, and some have speculated that it possibly remains down there, although it may (more likely) have been destroyed.
     
  14. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Since we all know what that ending was supposed to be...that slow pullback from the mansion showing it in a sate of decay now with an urban landscape of buildings and houses surrounding it (I get chills just thinking about it)...something like the pull back at the end of citizen kane...

    to me the ending could be digitally re-created (animated). It may not be EXACTLY the shot that Wells filmed, but we could get darn close to the feel...and wouldn't that be a step in the right direction?

    -dave
     
  15. Nathan_H

    Nathan_H Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd rather have such a computer generated ending than nothing at all close to Welles' vision, though I think I'd prefer use of the stills, storeyboard, script, and perhaps even Welles' voice describing the ending (from the recorded interviews in the 70s with Bogdonivich).
     
  16. Nathan_H

    Nathan_H Stunt Coordinator

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    By the way, which is better: The French Ambersons DVD or the Spanish one? (Or maybe neither is better than the Criterion LD, in which case I'll sit tight for a while.)
     
  17. Jeff Wilson

    Jeff Wilson Stunt Coordinator

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    If you want a DVD version of the film, the French edition is the one to get, although it has few extras worth mentioning if you don't speak French (there are two interviews with film scholars). It does have the trailer, which contains a brief (about 2 sec.) snippet of the final boarding house sequence, and 45 minutes or so of audio excerpts from This is Orson Welles. Picture quality is good although certainly not like the recent Kane restoration, and the sound is presented in the original mono and a Dolby 5.1 remix. I'm told the Spanish disc is terrible, but haven't seen it myself to compare.

    If you have the Criterion LD, there's no real reason to upgrade aside from not having to flip the discs. I doubt we'll ever see an Ambersons DVD with comparable extras, as Warner doesn't appear to be in any hurry to release the film here.
     
  18. John Knowles

    John Knowles Stunt Coordinator

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    Amberson's, as butchered as it is, is a fave of mine. I have the Criterion LD and the commentary is pretty interesting as it points out the places where the film was cut and/or reshot. Another bonus that sadly won't get onto DVD. [​IMG]
     
  19. Nathan_H

    Nathan_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Hmmm. I'm very intrigued by the trailer on the French DVD, because of the footage there that is no longer in the film.

    It has long been a pipe-dream of mine to use the materials available to do my own (personal) reconstruction of the film... Unfortunately, my DVD authoring software can't do multiple video angles or soundtracks yet -- gotta upgrade -- but what I'd like is:

    Main Video: Footage re-cut into proper order, extra scenes excised, stills/script/intertitles where needed to bridge gaps.

    Alternate Angle Video: Shooting script.

    Main Audio: Soundtrack to match main video. Where there are gaps in the video with the stills (etc) voice-over from Welles/Bogdonovich about the missin materials.

    Secondary Audio: Commentary track, with additional Welles comments about the film. There's not enough released audio to fill the whole track, so there'd need to be bridging material -- either someone else reading from Welles' comments on the film that haven't been released on audio, and/or additional scholarly info.

    Third Audio track: Feature length coherent commentary. On my own personal authoring, I'd place the criterion commentary here. For a commercial release (were someone to attempt the general scenario of what I describe) they'd probably need to do a new commentary track.

    Finally, if it were a commercial release and not my own personal version, there should be a way (seamless branching) to see the film in it's released format, as well.

    ---

    Whew. Now all I need to do is upgrade my DVD authoring software, and loose my day job so I have enough time to tackle it all! :)
     
  20. Jeff Wilson

    Jeff Wilson Stunt Coordinator

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    You can do a reconstruction of sorts, if you have the Criterion LD CAV set. The set includes the missing scenes in script form, so you can, with a laserdisc player and VCR, edit the scenes into the film and organize things as necessary. I run a Welles web site, and on my message board, some folks talked about having done this, one even putting in the Herrmann music that had been removed, and said that it worked very well. As for the trailer with the missing footage, it's literally about 2 seconds. I don't recall if the trailer was on the Criterion set, and don't have mine at hand to check.
     

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