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Press Release Criterion Press Release: War and Peace (Blu-ray)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. OliverK

    OliverK Producer

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    I saw that one , too and it was not on the same level as War and Peace, in fact it was the first Russian 70mm production that I had seen at the time and I was quite disappointed with the picture quality.

    If you compare it to a 70mm print of for example Solomon and Sheba which is not critically acclaimed but very good looking the difference is quite staggering and Solomon and Sheba is "only" a Super Technirama 70 production.
     
  2. Jim*Tod

    Jim*Tod Supporting Actor

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    Just got the blu ray. I am somewhat disappointed by the sound. I saw the uncut 70mm print in Russian at AFI about a decade ago and the sound was incredible with lots of use of the surrounds, even for dialog. This was even true of the Russico dvd. The sound on this new blu ray is OK but it does not have the expansive sound stage I have heard in the past. Curious to see what other folks think of this.
     
  3. lark144

    lark144 Supporting Actor

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    I saw the Janus/Mosfilm DCP (which I assume is the same as the Criterion Blu-Ray) last month @ Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater and I thought the information coming out of the surrounds was fairly amazing. In the ballroom & battle scenes there were all kinds of echo effects and doubling of voices and specific sounds which panned from one speaker to the other and created a kind of hyper near visionary experience. I also sat in different parts of the theater to sample the sound mix and surprisingly the best was up in front.

    I can't give you my views on the Blu-Ray as I haven't received it yet, but one would think that it would sound the same as the Janus DCP. That's very odd if it is indeed different.
     
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  4. Jim*Tod

    Jim*Tod Supporting Actor

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    In the 70mm print not only were there more spectacular effects for the big battle sequences, but it is one of the few times where an off camera voice comes from behind until the character enters the frame and his dialog is in the front. I only sampled the disc last night... so once I have a chance to watch the whole thing, I will see how it goes. But definitely want to hear the opinions of others on the sound quality.
     
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  5. john a hunter

    john a hunter Screenwriter

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    The Story of the Flaming Years had a run at the Coliseum Cinerama in London which I saw together with Part 1 of W&P at the Kinopanorama in Paris.
    I can recall the impact of those films(especially W&P) but like Oliver says the image quality was quite soft and did not make an impression on me, as say the first time I saw the PQ of Cleopatra or Dolly.
    Looking forward to the BD's though.
     
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  6. lark144

    lark144 Supporting Actor

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    Yeah, the off-camera voices were definitely there on the rear and also side surrounds (it happens a number of times in the film) on the Janus DCP I saw last month at the Walter Reade.
     
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  7. owen35

    owen35 Stunt Coordinator

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    From the Digital Bits that recently reviewed it. I'm not sure where he got this information (may be on the disc which I just received today):

    "War and Peace was shot photochemically in actual 70 mm (at 2.20:1) using Soviet-made cameras and film stock (specifically, “Sovscope 70” film from the Shostka Chemical Plant in Ukraine, also used by Akira Kurosawa for Dersu Uzala in 1975). Unfortunately, the cameras had a tendency to break down and parts were hard to come by. What’s more, the film stock was of inconsistent quality (at various points during filming, the camera crew discovered batches with striping, mosquitoes in the emulsion, even missing sprocket holes). Worst of all, the stock was unstable and deteriorated quickly, the upshot of which is that War and Peace was nearly lost. When, in 2000, Mosfilm decided to undertake a restoration of the film, they discovered that they essentially no longer had the original 70 mm negative. So for nearly two decades, War and Peace has only been viewable in poor quality DVD releases. Entire generations of filmgoers have thus never seen it—many don’t even know of its existence. Thankfully, that’s about to change."

    Seems the 70mm negative was gone so they had to pull from various sources. There were moments, to my unprofessional eye, that it looked fantastic, but, yes, there were also moments where it was very bad. One section was in black-and-white for about a minute or more. Perhaps that was intentional, but given that it didn't enhance the scene and was the only moment in the entire film that was done this way, I assumed it was because a color version didn't exist.
     
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  8. Message #108 of 132 Jun 25, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    Mark McSherry

    Mark McSherry Stunt Coordinator

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    Mistaken-- Removed post.
     
  9. Message #109 of 132 Jun 25, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    Mark McSherry

    Mark McSherry Stunt Coordinator

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    "One section was in black-and-white for about a minute or more. Perhaps that was intentional, but given that it didn't enhance the scene and was the only moment in the entire film that was done this way, I assumed it was because a color version didn't exist."

    If that B&W moment occurred in the fourth film, during the attack on the French camp by Denisov and young Rostov, then it is the same as in the the 5-disc DVD set released by Image Entertainment.

    71NlOP4K7ZL._SY445_.
     
  10. owen35

    owen35 Stunt Coordinator

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    It did.
     
  11. Allansfirebird

    Allansfirebird Supporting Actor

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    I seem to remember a story I'd read where the 70mm negatives were caught in a legal morass following Bondarchuk's death, and Mosfilm couldn't get them out of Ukraine, IIRC.
     
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  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Unfortunately, another poster child for the multiple failures of proper preservation, archival standards, and cooperation.
     
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  13. OliverK

    OliverK Producer

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    This is indeed tragic and for years only rumors have been heard about the state of the OCN.
    In any case it would be a monumental undertaking and I doubt that Mosfilm would be up to it even if they had access.
     
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  14. trajan007

    trajan007 Second Unit

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    I see the glass half full rather than half empty in the case of WAR AND PEACE. Rather than concentrate on a perfect restoration that will never happen, lets be thankful we have an improved WAR AND PEACE..
     
  15. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Producer

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    A 3.6 Restoration. Not great, not terrible.
     
  16. Dennis Gallagher

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    The version I saw in 70mm at the AFI Silver in Silver Springs, MD some years ago had Entr'acte music prior to the second half (parts three and four of the disc). I remember this clearly because it was played with the curtains open and there were lots of scratches in the print. What's happened to this music - and what's the status of any surviving 70mm prints of this movie? (I see that the AFI's showing the 2K version from July 5-7). (Just the bits and pieces I've seen so far show me that this Blu-Ray is FAR better than the completely unwatchable DVD. Too bad that something couldn't have been done to make it look better.)
    (I came upon this - with some minimal searching. Last 70mm showing at AFI in 2004!:
    https://rec.arts.movies.tech.narkive.com/52BHByVn/70mm-print-of-bondarchuk-s-war-and-peace )
     
  17. atcolomb

    atcolomb Screenwriter

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    Dersu Uzala was in bad shape so currently in Criterion's hands they can improve the image. In 2001 Ruscico released a dvd that had the worst shimmering effect I ever saw and was not watchable.
     
  18. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    I have just been informed (by someone who works there) that Barnes and Noble will have their annual 50% off sale beginning JUNE 28 and ending the first week in August. Just a heads up.
     
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  19. OliverK

    OliverK Producer

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    Indeed things could be much worse. There are Blu-rays that look worse that come from movies that originally looked a lot better than War and Peace.

    The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Halleluja Trail or El Cid come to mind.
     
  20. Brian Husar

    Brian Husar Second Unit

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    One question I do have is, I know it’s 2.35 because they used 35 mm elements, but I am watching the special feature interviewing Fedor Bondarchuk, and the footage is framed at 2.20 the correct aspect ratio and the footage looks better. I know the original 65mm negative is a lost cause, but what am I seeing in that special feature?
     
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