Criterion's "Richard III" Question

Discussion in 'DVD' started by DouglasBr, Feb 26, 2004.

  1. DouglasBr

    DouglasBr Stunt Coordinator

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    I received Richard III today and was intrigued by the description on the back of the 2-disc case, which indicated that the DVD contained footage only recently discovered, which hadn't been incorporated in earlier home video presentations. However, when I brought it home and compared to my widescreen VHS copy from Home Vision (which I've had for over 10 years, I think), the total running time for both is 158 minutes. What gives?

    Not really a complaint -- I'm thrilled to have it on DVD, especially as I got it and Tunes of Glory with a $50 gift card from Amazon! But I am curious. . . .
     
  2. Douglas Bailey

    Douglas Bailey Second Unit

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    I can't comment on the tape (never had it), but the DVD is definitely a bit longer than the older laserdisc edition, which was listed as running 154 minutes. You might want to compare your tape to my notes below and see whether it matches the LD, the DVD, or is yet a different edit of the film. (I'd guess it's a match for the LD, and that the 158-minute running time is simply an error, but that's only a guess.) I ran the LD and DVD simultaneously to look for the alterations. Here's the list of changes I found: I think it's complete, but I'll happily accept corrections. (All time codes and chapters are from the DVD.) 1:05:06–1:05:16 [Chapter 17] (Act 2, Scene IV) A brief exchange is restored after Queen Elizabeth's line, "A parlous boy: go to, you are too shrewd." The LD cuts at this point to the next shot (the running messenger): the DVD continues with:
    Difference: about 10 seconds. 1:25:30–1:26:20 [Chapter 22] (Act 3, Scene II) The LD cuts from Lord Hastings' line, "I know they do; and I have well deserved it," to Hastings kissing Jane Shore good-bye and striding out the door: in between, the DVD restores the appearance of Lord Stanley and his discussion of the political situation with Hastings. Difference: about 50 seconds. 2:22:23–2:23:22 [Chapter 36] (Act 5, Scene III) The LD cuts from Richard's line, "Armed in proof, and led by shallow Richmond," to the Duke of Norfolk crying, "Arm, arm, my lord: the foe vaunts in the field": in between, the DVD restores Richard's speech about the sun disdaining to shine on the battlefield. Difference: about 50 seconds. 2:27:27–2:28:00 [Chapter 37] (Act 5, Scene III) The LD omits a reaction shot of Richard (who's watching a line of horsemen wheel to his right); three shots of Richmond's and Lord Stanley's troops revealing that they're not really fighting; a shot of the horsemen continuing to screen right, with the footmen cheering as they go by; and three more shots of Stanley's troops running toward Richmond's forces. Difference: about 33 seconds. 2:28:09–2:28:11 [Chapter 37] (Act 5, Scene III) The LD omits a single quick shot of Lord Stanley's troops running, some of them dropping their weapons as they do so. Difference: about 2 seconds. 2:28:27–2:28:40 [Chapter 37] (Act 5, Scene III) Right after Norfolk's line, "After the battle let George Stanley die," the LD shows a shot of Lord Stanley, mounted, gazing over the field, followed by a shot of the battle as seen from his perspective. The DVD omits these shots but includes three others not seen on the LD: a long shot of Richmond, mounted, with his forces; a shot of Lord Stanley's troops running toward the camera under some trees; a reverse shot showing those same troops running up to Richmond and kneeling. As far as I can tell, this is the only place where the LD and DVD have different edits (extending even to the use of differing music cues), and it's the only place where the LD has footage that the DVD lacks. The DVD sequence is 13 seconds long: I estimate the LD version at about 5 seconds (didn't think to count CAV frame numbers). Difference: about 8 seconds. That's a total difference of around 2m33s by my count, which makes me think that of the LD's 154-minute listed run time and the DVD's 159-minute listed run time, at least one isn't accurate. :) HTH.
     
  3. DouglasBr

    DouglasBr Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the heads-up. I did a quick check of the tape and DVD just for quality. The DVD is an impressive improvement all around. Now to check the particular scenes you described. . . .
     
  4. Coressel

    Coressel Supporting Actor

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    Wow, this is great. I didn't even know the Criterion Edition of Olivier's Dick3 was even out on DVD yet!

    Guess I'd better brush up my Bard collection.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Shane_Anthony

    Shane_Anthony Stunt Coordinator

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    People who've baught the discs what are your overall impressions??

    Thanks
     
  6. Douglas Bailey

    Douglas Bailey Second Unit

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    My impression is that the DVD is a fantastic improvement over the older laserdisc edition in terms both of the edit of the film and of its visual quality.

    The image is excellent: it's the best I've ever seen the film look. (Frankly, even the screen caps at DVD Beaver don't do it justice: they look darker than the DVD does on my calibrated set-up.)

    That's not to say the video is perfect: it's certainly evident from the slight drop in quality when a particular scene has been restored from prints rather than from the color reversal intermediate. But compared to the laserdisc, which had some scenes so faded that they looked almost like cyan/magenta-tinted black-and-white, it's a triumphant step up.

    The mono audio is more detailed and less hissy than the track on the laserdisc, though it also seems a little more sibilant and shyer in the bass registers. It does justice to the dialogue, though, and to Sir William Walton's brilliant (and earworm-y) cod-mediæval score.

    For those considering making the jump from the LD (as opposed to the VHS edition that DouglasBR mentions), there's also the appealing lack of side breaks to consider. Most of the LD's breaks are carefully placed during the film's many fades to black between scenes, but there's at least one dissolve that is truncated and faded on the LD. It's nice to see the film uninterrupted again.

    Extras: the slightly dry but very informative commentary track re-appears from the LD edition. There's also a lengthy but fascinating television interview (Great Acting) with Olivier, conducted by theatre critic Ken Tynan; a stills gallery, interspersed with relevant passages from Olivier's autobiography; a black-and-white TV "trailer" (more of a featurette, really) and a colour theatrical trailer.

    I've been waiting years for a better version of this film on home video, and I'm thrilled at the job Criterion did with their DVD. Highly recommended.

    Other opinions: Digitally Obsessed, DVD Talk.
     

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