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Criterion's CRANES and BALLAD (1 Viewer)

James Steffen

Auditioning
Joined
May 12, 2001
Messages
6
I finally received the new Criterion DVDs of THE CRANES ARE FLYING and BALLAD OF A SOLDIER. Let me just say right off the bat that these are stunning--I never expected Soviet films from the 1950s to look this good. Very clean, almost pristine prints, marvelous detail and contrast. The original mono soundtracks are clear as well.

Many of you are aware that a while back Ruscico had made region free DVDs of these two films for international release. (The Ruscico discs are not bootlegs, I might add; their titles are often licensed out to companies in the US and England. However, ONLY Criterion has the rights to sell BALLAD and CRANES in the U.S.) There's simply no comparison to the new Criterion discs. While Ruscico also made new transfers, there were a lot of artifacts and compression problems on the discs. At one point in CRANES Veronica's nose moves independently of her face! Also, they reprocessed the soundtracks into artificial stereo--always a no-no in my book.

I wish there were more supplements on the Criterion discs (only a radio interview with the director Chukhrai on BALLAD), but when the transfers are this good, it's hard to complain. I was dazzled by Urusevsky's cinematography on CRANES all over again.

Thanks, Criterion. You obviously worked really hard on these. I can't wait to see what they do with IVAN'S CHILDHOOD and SOLARIS.

James
 

Rich Malloy

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2000
Messages
3,998
At one point in CRANES [Ruscico transfer], Veronica's nose moves independently of her face!
Sounds just like the outrageous video jitter (judder?) that plagued Ruscico's STALKER disc. Unfortunately, it appears that Criterion won't be improving upon that one, unless something shakes out regarding the N. American distribution rights.
 

Jean-Michel

Supporting Actor
Joined
Mar 28, 2002
Messages
769
I'm frankly getting very frustrated with RusCiCo's transfers. I just got the Stalker disc and it's embarassing -- the colors and detail are fine but there is so much jitter it becomes unwatchable at times. And this is the original PAL version so it can't be explained away as a PAL-to-NTSC artifact. Sloppy quality control is really the only explanation I can come up with.
 

Brook K

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2000
Messages
9,467
Just watched Ballad tonight and it's another winner from Criterion. Really does justice to the classic cinematography of this film. And the tragi-romance story is a heart-breaker.:frowning:
 

Jason Hughes

Supporting Actor
Joined
Oct 17, 1998
Messages
883
Real Name
Jason Hughes
Grrr....DVD Empire shipped both of these over a week ago and I still have not received them.
 

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