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Stefan Andersson

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Hi!

Would it be possible to reproduce the original look of Eyes Wide Shut on Blu?

I saw the film on opening night. For the first two reels, the image was very diffused and/or overexposed (layman´s use of the terminology). On-screen light sources gave off a heavily diffused glow. Then, the projectionist made a swift adjustment, making the image look as on the Bluray.
 

Stefan Andersson

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Did some googling to find some relevant screengrabs showing the film grain and exposure characteristics I was referring to. These are the best I could find:

ews-festa2.jpg (786×490) (libero.it)
ews-famiglia.jpg (877×586) (libero.it)
ews-bill-sally.jpg (887×593) (libero.it)
ews-bill-inseguito.jpg (799×636) (libero.it)
ews-alice-maschera.jpg (896×580) (libero.it)
ews-bill-alice-fine.jpg (881×588) (libero.it)

My initial post is based on my personal memories of seeing the film, and also on these discussions about subjective memories of film grain, pushing the film stock and saturating the colours to create dream-like images:
Grainy images in EWS as a deliberate choice by Kubrick : StanleyKubrick (reddit.com)
Eyes Wide Shut and the disappearing film grain - General Discussion - Cinematography.com

I don´t know the source of the above screengrabs, or how accurate they are. But the fact of people remembering a 35mm print looking different from the Blu has intrigued me for a long time, so I thought I´d open a discussion here. Won´t rule out your projection error suggestion though, that may well be a factor.

The above is the best I can do to augment my original post.

Here is an in-depth discussion about force-developing the film stock two stops, and other photography-related issues on the shoot:
A Sword in the Bed: Eyes Wide Shut - The American Society of Cinematographers (ascmag.com)

See also
Kubrick and Eyes Wide Shut - Cinematographers - Cinematography.com
Who here has seen a 35mm print of Eyes Wide Shut? : StanleyKubrick (reddit.com)
There are surely other similar discussions about the film online. Tried to find a Kubrick instruction to projectionists (like the famous one he sent out for Barry Lyndon) but found none.
 

haineshisway

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Let's be real here: Mr. Kubrick did not supervise the release prints, due to the fact he was - dead. The release prints for Eyes Wide Shut were horrible, period. Mr. Kubrick, I believe, never even fine cut the film, otherwise he most certainly would not have left in the shot of he and the crew completely visible in a mirror - a shot subsequently fixed for the home video releases. I have no idea what you saw in a theater, but what I saw was a bad-looking release print, overtly grainy, and hastily done without any input from the film's deceased director.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Another take on this:

Eyes Wide Shot was photographed in a somewhat unique way. Every shot on set was underexposed on purpose, and then pushed during processing to compensate. This was done to give the film a grainy and almost dreamlike texture to it which looked beautiful in the original release prints I saw.

It’s certainly technically possible to make a new master that would better reflect the original look and texture of the film, but Warner to date has not done so. Grain didn’t translate very well to standard definition, so the original DVD likely had some grain reduction before being compressed and authored to disc. HD scans at the dawn of the Blu-ray era also weren’t great at this, and early HD compression wasn’t as advanced as it is now, so it appears that the grain may have been reduced from the Blu-ray as well.

But as to the original look of the film - American Cinematographer covered this back in the day, and the Kubrick Archive in London also has paperwork and camera reports that verify that the grainy look was by design.

Kubrick did complete a fine cut. It was screened for Warner execs very shortly before his sudden death. As Kubrick’s right hand man during all aspects of preproduction and production, and with the family and studio’s blessing, made a choice not to trim this fine cut any further and just worked to complete postproduction on that edit without making further trims. Vitali acknowledge that Kubrick would likely have kept trimming the film up to, and perhaps past, it’s official release date. Vitali felt he was in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position about whether to make edits that he felt Kubrick would likely have made, which is why the decision was made to leave the edit where Kubrick had left it. I would have been fine either way but I think the lack of even more fine tuning adds to the film’s unusual and dreamy atmosphere; it works towards the mood the film is creating.
 
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SeanSKA

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I saw the film the day it opened, and yes, it looked extremely grainy and diffused. especially towards the beginning of the film. It was especially visible in the party scene where Nicole Kidman was dancing . I remember thinking I had never scene a modern film with that level of grain before
 

haineshisway

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Another take on this:

Eyes Wide Shot was photographed in a somewhat unique way. Every shot on set was underexposed on purpose, and then pushed during processing to compensate. This was done to give the film a grainy and almost dreamlike texture to it which looked beautiful in the original release prints I saw.

It’s certainly technically possible to make a new master that would better reflect the original look and texture of the film, but Warner to date has not done so. Grain didn’t translate very well to standard definition, so the original DVD likely had some grain reduction before being compressed and authored to disc. HD scans at the dawn of the Blu-ray era also weren’t great at this, and early HD compression wasn’t as advanced as it is now, so it appears that the grain may have been reduced from the Blu-ray as well.

But as to the original look of the film - American Cinematographer covered this back in the day, and the Kubrick Archive in London also has paperwork and camera reports that verify that the grainy look was by design.

Kubrick did complete a fine cut. It was screened for Warner execs very shortly before his sudden death. As Kubrick’s right hand man during all aspects of preproduction and production, and with the family and studio’s blessing, made a choice not to trim this fine cut any further and just worked to complete postproduction on that edit without making further trims. Vitali acknowledge that Kubrick would likely have kept trimming the film up to, and perhaps past, it’s official release date. Vitali felt he was in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position about whether to make edits that he felt Kubrick would likely have made, which is why the decision was made to leave the edit where Kubrick had left it. I would have been fine either way but I think the lack of even more fine tuning adds to the film’s unusual and dreamy atmosphere; it works towards the mood the film is creating.

I understand that's the party line, but the reality is what was on the screen back in the day. Kubrick would never have released the film that way - minimally he would have removed the mirror reflection of he and his crew - where is the justification for that remaining in the film? That's just ridiculous and eventually Warners did the right thing by removing it. So, folks will believe what they'll believe - I can only believe my eyes and go by past Kubrick films.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Yeah, the mirror thing was clearly an error, and I don’t see anything wrong with fixing it.

I only had a day at the Kubrick Archive - I’m lucky I was able to fit it in on the London trip - and you have to make your selections of what to view in advance so you can’t really do spontaneous. My primary interest was to look up some 2001 stuff that I had never seen researched or covered elsewhere (actually still haven’t) but Eyes Wide Shut is a favorite of mine as well and I did have some stuff pulled to look over. Really fascinating reading the different script drafts and watching it start to come together.
 

Worth

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Well, Kubrick didn't have a problem with seeing the helicopter blades in The Shining, so you never know...
 

haineshisway

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Well, Kubrick didn't have a problem with seeing the helicopter blades in The Shining, so you never know...

Well, I'm sure you understand the the helicopter blades were not visible in the film as projected in 1.85, you know, the ratio it was composed for, so you're quite wrong on that score. The fact that he didn't mind it for 4.3 TVs is irrelevant.
 

Robert Harris

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I understand that's the party line, but the reality is what was on the screen back in the day. Kubrick would never have released the film that way - minimally he would have removed the mirror reflection of he and his crew - where is the justification for that remaining in the film? That's just ridiculous and eventually Warners did the right thing by removing it. So, folks will believe what they'll believe - I can only believe my eyes and go by past Kubrick films.
Similar reflection as a door opens in Zhivago.
 

Worth

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Well, I'm sure you understand the the helicopter blades were not visible in the film as projected in 1.85, you know, the ratio it was composed for, so you're quite wrong on that score. The fact that he didn't mind it for 4.3 TVs is irrelevant.
They're noticeable on the blu-ray (at 1.78), and I've seen the film projected at 1.85 on several occasions and they're still visible, though not obvious. If it's something you're not aware of, it probably wouldn't stand out.

 

Vern Dias

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They're noticeable on the blu-ray (at 1.78), and I've seen the film projected at 1.85 on several occasions and they're still visible, though not obvious. If it's something you're not aware of, it probably wouldn't stand out.
If you saw them in a theatre, It's also possible that the projectionist did not have the framing set properly, or that the theatre was not running a true 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
 

Worth

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If you saw them in a theatre, It's also possible that the projectionist did not have the framing set properly, or that the theatre was not running a true 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
This is the image matted to 1.85. Again, not obvious if you're not looking for it, but still there.
rotors_matted_large.jpg
 

JoshZ

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Kubrick may have had a reputation as an anal-retentive perfectionist, but that's not to say he was actually perfect. He did leave flubs in his films on occasion, sometimes because he didn't notice them and sometimes because he judged other aspects of the take to be more important.
 

TonyD

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I don’t see anything in that image. Maybe the green line is blocking it.
 

JoshZ

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I don’t see anything in that image. Maybe the green line is blocking it.

The green shaded portion at the top of the image is where the helicopter rotors are visible. The person who made the image highlighted the problem in green because it's difficult to capture in a screenshot.

This is from the beginning of the movie with the aerial establishing shots. You're not meant to see a helicopter in them.
 

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