Important Announcement regarding 60th Anniversary Edition of A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Alastair Sim)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    An important update from VCI Entertainment regarding some of our Christmas titles.



    A CHRISTMAS CAROL



    It appears that there may have been some confusion surrounding the first notice we sent announcing the new 60th Anniversary Edition of A CHRISTMAS CAROL; our annual best-selling 1951 version starring Alastair Sim. So this memo is to make sure everyone is on the same page, and to let you know about some changes since the original announcement:



    We have produced both a brand new Blu-ray and Standard DVD for release this year, to mark the 60th Anniversary of this holiday classic. (Blu-ray Item #9060 / DVD Item #8760). These 60th Anniversary Editions are totally new this year. The high definition master has undergone additional digital restoration to further improve the quality of the picture and sound, and both contain all new bonus features produced in 2011.



    In addition, we are especially proud to remind you the 60th Anniversary Editions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL include a very special video introduction by Leonard Maltin. In his brief video essay, he not only proclaims this is his particular favorite of all the other filmed versions of this Dickens, but he also outlines the reasons behind his choice in this very erudite and thoughtful presentation.



    Please check out the Leonard Maltin intro for yourself, in this special sneak peak by clicking on this link.













    Leonard Maltin Introduces "A Christmas Carol".mov




    Changes since the original announcement; due to unforeseen problems in production:

    • The special O-card has been eliminated from the Blu-ray and DVD package.

    • The Bonus DVD in the Blu-ray combo pack will not include "More Silent Dickens."



    And a note about the previous versions of our A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Blu-ray Item #9001 and DVD Item #8500, will continue to be available, as long as supply and demand last, however we encourage you to support the new versions, which will also be supported by a very aggressive marketing campaign.



    SANTA CLAUS



    Please note that the cover art for both the Blu-ray and DVD Collectors' editions of SANTA CLAUS have also changed. We believe the new artwork is more attractive and better represents the fun and fantastic nature of this classic family movie.



    The complete, revised details for A CHRISTMAS CAROL 60th ANNIVERSARY EDITION and SANTA CLAUS, as well as the other holiday titles on this release, are available by clicking this link.



    http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Carol-Anniversary-Diamond-Blu-ray/dp/B005FOW9CI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317421992&sr=8-1
     
  2. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    The introduction isn't very festive. I loved the introduction Patrick MacNee did about 20 years ago by a roaring fire and flickering Christmas tree. I'll have to retain my old DVD for that. It's sort of nostalgia for me as it included the first time I ever saw the film, when I was about 5.
    Looking forward to this! Christmas isn't Christmas without Alastair Sim as Scrooge.
     
  3. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    I didn't get the Blu-Ray that was previously issued as I only got a Blu-Ray player last year for Christmas, so this is a welcome addition to my collection. As a title that gets watched every year, this is a no-brainer for an upgrade.

    I haven't actually watched the whole thing yet - we always wait til pretty close to Christmas for this one - but I have sampled it. To say I'm stunned at how good it looks is an understatement. This is the way I've wanted this title to look through all those years of VHS, LaserDiscs and DVDs. Finally, we have a good-looking clean print.

    Harry
     
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  4. Guest

    I'm trying to figure out why both blu ray editions of A Christmas Carol have those odd jerky jumps. It only happens to part of the frame, but they are constant throughout the film. When you slow step through the frames, they appear normal. I have never seen this problem on any other film ever. Can someone offer theories? I'm not as well versed in HD transferring as some of you are, and can't decide what might have happened here. But VCI did a new transfer and the jumps are still there.
     
  5. NY2LA

    NY2LA Screenwriter

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    I tend to collect most versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, and got this one several times already, a couple of purchases seemed to be nothing more than a change of packaging so I'm leery of buying it again after that "seriously remastered" DVD. One thing I liked about it was they included a 16x9 AR version. I'm not going to buy the BluRay if it doesn't have that.
     
  6. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    I've been playing the "A CHRISTMAS CAROL" upgrade game for years and also have that 16x9 thing. I found that one to be a total abomination, chopping off heads and feet for the sake of filling out the sides of my TV screen. No thank you. I can zoom any proper 1.33:1 transfer if I feel in the mood for chopping off heads.

    And I thought that DVD set was a pretty decent upgrade from prior issues - but this 60th Anniversary Blu-Ray is definitely the way to go. I see the jumpiness, particularly at scene changes, but always dismiss that since I believe they're grabbing individual scenes from many different but flawed prints and negatives and the ravages of time take their toll. I was just amazed at how good the Alastair Sim film looked when I put the 60th Anniversary Blu-Ray disc in to sample it.

    I'm not fond of the nearly-forced promo material at the start of the disc, and I wish they'd have given an opt-out option on Leonard Maltin's intro, though it too looks great in high-def - I just don't want to have to sit through it every time I watch the film, or have to hit chapter skip to advance it.

    Harry
     
  7. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Does anyone have any idea why Amazon has discontinued this title? I didn't pick it up when the price was good, and now it looks like I missed out. I'm hoping to find it at a bargain price for next Christmas. I'd like to benefit from this newest Blu-ray transfer as it has been said to be noticeably better than the former one.
     
  8. NY2LA

    NY2LA Screenwriter

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    That link brings up only the buy page for Scrooge, not the info promised on Santa Claus and other holiday releases.
     
  9. NY2LA

    NY2LA Screenwriter

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    The point of creating a specific 16x9 transfer is to avoid cutting off heads... can you tell me where they have heads cut off? I just watched most of the 16x9 version and there's only a few shots where tops of heads are cropped out. This could have been avoided easily by an old-fashioned shot-by-shot pan/scan session like they were doing for TV and homevid for years, except now they are going for a widescreen instead of a square.
    I saw no shot that in this movie that couldn't work that way. The few times the tops of people's heads were out there was plenty of nonessential stuff near the bottom so they could have cropped higher. This time it seems they just cropped it and left it there.
    I'm not lobbying for all 1.33 movies to be cropped to fit wide sets anymore than I did for widescreen to be cropped for square TVs. HOWEVER... Just as we've had to live with pan/scan on the same disc as letterbox for in the past, I'd like to have that option now for 16x9. Giving me that OPTION on 1.33 material is not going to take anything away from the folks who prefer the square.
    I have been using the zoom on my TV, for 1.33 content on a case by case basis, and find in 99.9% of cases I can zoom to full width and nudge it up a degree or two to keep heads in the frame and never miss anything. I was doing that on some Holiday movies and specials, and then began to notice the same thing being done on the HD Broadcast version of the same movies and specials, so I'm obviously not alone.
    The forced Maltin intro is also a sale-killer for me - I'm already sick of him being forced on me in all those animation sets. He's all over the place like Starbucks, except you're not forced into every one of their stores. I'm against forced intros as a rule because they get old really fast and become a timewaster when you really just want to get to whatever feature you're trying to view.
     
  10. Brian McHale

    Brian McHale Supporting Actor

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    I'm sorry, but there is no good way to take a 1.33:1 movie and make it 16x9. You're bound to cut off too much information from the top and/or bottom of the frame. Besides, don't forget what HTF is all about; from the HTF "About Us":
    We the members of the forum are interested in the film product to be recorded and reproduced as closely as possible to the way the original creator(s) of that particular film intended.
    I can't imagine watching this classic in anything other than its intended aspect ratio.
     
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  11. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    I'm usually pretty lenient about alterations to home versions of films as long as the original is also available, as NY2LA mentioned. Thus I can tolerate a colorized MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET or A CHRISTMAS CAROL as long as that same set has the original black & white. That gives ME the choice to either watch the altered version as a curiosity or to ignore it.

    When the DVD release of A CHRISTMAS CAROL came out a few years ago with three versions of the same film, I was kind of excited. We got a newly "restored" black & white in 1.33:1, a colorized version from a few years earlier in 1.33:1, and a 16x9 version of the "restored" film. I was excited about that and thought I might be able to live with a tilt'n'scan version on the widescreen TV.

    But when I put the thing on, the image was just as fuzzy as if I took the "restored" version and zoomed in on it myself. And to me it looked center-cut so that occasionally tops of heads were chopped off. The fuzzy image was the biggest turn-off, but the head-chopping was the last straw. I've not bothered with that option on that disc since that first experimentation.

    The new Blu-Ray is far and away better than that old DVD. I've read that it's an improvement over the prior Blu-Ray release, which I've never seen, so I have no frame of reference for that. And I believe that the included DVD of the newer transfer is also an upgrade from the older DVD.

    Harry
     
  12. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    I just did a little more investigation into these different DVD versions, aspect ratios, etc. And I was a little hasty in deeming the 16x9 transfer to not be a tilt'n'scan but rather a center cut. After some comparisons, I can see that indeed, at least in the early going of the film, they did do some tilting. After Scrooge issues his first "Humbug", he goes outside the London Exchange. The next scene is him coming out the door onto the steps of the London Exchange where he's met by Samuel Wilkins, the man who can't repay his loan. At the fade between the two scenes, we can see that the prior scene was tilted upwards a bit to include the heads of the gentlemen talking (though Scrooge's hat is still cut off a bit). As it transitions to outside, the frame is a bit high and we can't see most of the snowy steps of the Exchange. As Scrooge approaches, the scene tilts down to reveal more of the steps and less of the high arch of the doorway.

    I'm going to do a little DVD-Beaver-style comparison here with three examples of the same frame.

    [​IMG]
    This is Nephew Fred entering his Uncle Ebenezer's office in the VCI Ultimate Edition DVD, 4x3 version, 2007.

    [​IMG]
    Nephew Fred enters Uncle Ebenezer's office in the VCI Ultimate Edition DVD, 16x9 version, 2007. Notice his head is chopped off as he bounces upward out of the frame, and that the chest-like object at the foot of the shelves has all but disappeared.

    [​IMG]
    Nephew Fred enters Uncle Ebenezer's office in the VCI Blu-Ray/DVD Combo, DVD version, 16x9 framing of a 4x3 picture (black bars are part of the image), 2011.

    The image on this latter DVD came out VERY dark in my screen capture, but the improved clarity can be compared by looking at the candle.

    The actual Blu-Ray, which I cannot capture on the computer, looks even better and sharper.

    Harry
     
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Just ticked that I didn't purchase this Blu-ray when Amazon had it
    for under $10.

    In fact, Amazon no longer carries the Blu-ray. They give you other
    alternate sellers to purchase from, but now that I have seen the
    bottom line, I am waiting for a $10 pricepoint before I purchase.
     
  14. marsnkc

    marsnkc Supporting Actor

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    I kinda like the 1.20:1 aspect ratio of the original M, so would like to see VCI give us that option also, in B&W and.......COLORIZED. Then we'd have an original aspect B&W, original aspect color job, a 16:9 B&W and 1.20:1 B&W and color. I'd also like a box set that included a kitchen sink!
    Brian's post #10 is a welcome reminder of what I'd imagined HTF was a platform for. Serious cinema fans.
     
  15. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    I placed my Amazon order for this on November 28th and received it (with a bunch of other stuff on the same order) on December 6th. Amazon was charging $13.99 at the time of my order and the price didn't change, up or down. I'm glad I got it when I did now that it's all but disappeared.

    Though I don't expect much from brick & mortar retail stores anymore, this is a title that I'd expect them to carry - yet I haven't seen it in the Christmas Blu-Ray/DVD sections of any stores this year - nor the older Blu-Ray - or ANY version of this film, this year.

    Harry
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    It went down as low as $9.95 for a week or two.

    I even posted the price earlier and noted I was ready
    to make a purchase, just waiting for my new billing cycle.

    The deal didn't last long and the disc went out of stock.
     
  17. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    I guess I wasn't quick enough to get the lower price, but believe me, this one's worth whatever they wanted to charge me. I have no regrets about it at all.

    Harry
     
  18. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I saw that cheap price for the Blu-ray, too, and the moment I did, I pulled my 2007 DVD off the shelf, put it in one of my Blu-ray players, and watched about 15 minutes of it (various scenes). I thought it upconverted nicely and figured I'd save the money and not get the Blu. Now, with all this talk, maybe I DID make the wrong decision, but it's one I'll likely have to live with until another Christmas season comes our way. I did notice the uptick in price just a few days later.
     
  19. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I got it last month when it was at $10.99 on Amazon. I even upgraded from the blu-ray of just two years ago. Without a doubt, this is the film I have upgraded most often. Nothing else is even close.

    I watched it tonight...and it was glorious. I especially liked the lossless 2.0 soundtrack.

    This blu-ray looks and sounds great. It is amazing that it is a 60-year-old film. And to think of the butchered versions that used to show up on TV back in the day...

    As I was watching it tonight--anticipating nearly every scene--I couldn't help but think that Sim's portrayal of Scrooge has to rank as one of the greatest all-time performances committed to film.
     
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  20. Todd Mattraw

    Todd Mattraw Agent

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    Though it's getting late in the game to mention this now, I bought the new blu-ray last night at a brick & mortar B&N, 40% off sale this week, so $11.99 before tax.
    Sampled some scenes and was impressed, though I think I see the frame problem that some have mentioned, and to my novices eyes, it looks like it has something to do with the transitions from scene to scene, where the dissolves may be from a different source. Keeping in mind that I watched less than 5 minutes last night, and only 2 dissolves, it appeared to be something that I can live with, especially considering how nice the picture appeared up until the dissolves.
    However, that forced VCI commercial when the disc loads, is an utter abomination. Put the disc in and walk away for 5 minutes to fix a toddy, is my advice.
     

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