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Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring availability

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Fred Bang, Jun 25, 2004.

  1. Ralph Jenkins

    Ralph Jenkins Stunt Coordinator

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    I didn't notice any ghosting, but I haven't had time to watch the films all the way through yet. The subtitles aren't overly large.

    Going by the screen caps, the colors definitely are a lot more saturated on this version.

    I think I'd still prefer this version because I can watch it on my widescreen display without losing part of the subtitles.

    I agree that it would be nice if Criterion could pick up some of these classic foreign films. I think Raise the Red Lantern deserves a much better release, too. Of course, the Criterion version would likely be twice the price.
     
  2. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Oh, piss off, MGM. This is blown-out and lacks detail. Ugh. The UK transfer looks good enough, but is substantially cropped.
     
  3. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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    More like three times the price, and I'd be glad to pay it.
    In fact, I have the money on me. [​IMG]
     
  4. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    So I guess this is another instance of where a foreign film released by one of the major studios isn't getting the treatment it deserves.

    Is it too much to ask to release a foreign film with quality transfer? I'm not even asking for any supplements, it could be totally barebones and I'd still be happy to purchase it if the transfer is good.

    If they don't give a crap about these films, license them to Criterion - at least they'll do the films justice.

    I'm expected to jump on HD-DVD and/or Blu-Ray when the studios can't even get these great films done right on DVD after 10 years?
     
  5. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    But what is the quality of the picture on this release - that really is the question everyone wants an answer to. If it is a dramatic improvement over the first (horrible) release, this would be worth buying at twice the cost.
     
  6. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    You can see the issues in the screencaps that Ralph provided and compare them to the the review at DVDBeaver. It's apparent that the picture is much too golden and the detail seems worse than before. Sure it's anamorphic now, but the picture quality is still poor/incorrect.

    It really wasn't very difficult to improve upon the last release as the bar was pretty low... and MGM couldn't even do it.
     
  7. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    Ok, first off- let's all give a big hand to Ralph for the being the guniea pig here [​IMG]

    I had the chance to compare this new release with the R2 PAL disc from the UK (I only compared Manon, can do Jean tomorrow night if anyone is actually interested after reading the rest of this post).

    Bottom line- The new R1 disc is not perfect- contrast is too hot in a few scenes, just like Ralphs caps show- also, it does look overly golden *at times*- primarily in the same scenes.
    Apart from that, this is the best I have ever seen the film look on video, and a good sized, noticeable upgrade over even the anamorphic UK disc.
    fine detail is MUCH improved with this one- in comparision, the R2 disc has an overwhelmingly soft and smeary appearence. The color timing is clearly different, with the PAL disc looking cooler, and the new MGM disc having the golden, saturated look- however the overly saturated, over golden shots appear to be limited to a handful of outdoor, midday scenes. And these same scenes don't look quite as correct on the cooler R2 version. Had the saturation and contrast in these scenes been tamed down just a little, I would have been much happier, but at least they actually feel appropriate to the mileau (if just a bit overdone). There are at least several other exterior day scenes I saw that didn't display the same overbearing contrast, or golden hues. Throughout the film, skin tones look natural and appropriate. Contrast looks a bit jacked up across the board, as per what seems to be S.O.P now with remastered catalog titles. I hate this, and rail against it all the time in HD threads, but apparently thats what most people are comfortable seeing these days in new films, so thats what the studios force upon the old ones. I tried to re-calibrate my display to compensate for these problems, but there was just no way. Some sequences look over-baked and clipped, and are frustrating to watch- but thankfully the vast majority of the film looks to be much better and much more natural.
    It must have been the fact that all I had prior to that R2 UK disc was the much worse 4:3 letterbox R1...because looking at the PAL disc now, and comparing it to the new one, it's hard to believe I ever was able to find any aspect of it satisfying at all.
    The screenshots from DVDBeaver and that Ralph provided just don't tell the whole story.
    The new disc, most of the time, looks almost like High Def in comparision. (Should say that I'm viewing these on a Pearl, which is a 1080p front projector, with a screen width of 103").

    Another major gripe of mine was over the subtitles on the PAL disc. They are actually the same size on the MGM release, but they are quite a bit lower in the frame (tho still inside the actual image and not overlapping down into the letterbox bar), which makes them FAR less intrusive. I can't remember off the top of my head, but I don't recall the subs ever straying outside of the 'live' picture area- in other words, for people like me with front projectors who use a constant height set up, the sub titles should be all safe here (I didn't have time to watch it all the way thru, but that was the impression I was left with).

    The print here is preceded by a logo from a company called "amlf" (or something like that). I've never heard or seen anything by or about this company before. The UK disc is from Pathe, and iirc, the old MGM was from their acquisition of Orion.

    Again, it doesn't look perfect. There is some EE as well as the other issues mentioned- and I do have the feeling the transfer was DVNR'd a bit. There is just a hint of instability to some of the busier backgrounds (the flora and masses of rock structures would be difficult to compress on their own, but likely even more of a challenge due to the inherent grain structure. the grain isn't visible at all here, but the effects of its diffusion are at times). Its my hope that if the title ever makes it to HD, we'll see the all the grain, and with it, every last bit of high frequency detail.

    Until then, I'm happy to have this new disc- and at $14 for the two films, it's a fairly painless upgrade.
     
  8. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    AMLF= Agence Meditérranéene de Location de Films-Claude Berri started this distribution company in France according to what ive read.
     
  9. Kenneth_C

    Kenneth_C Second Unit

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    Thanks for the report, Paul.

    I've wanted these 2 films in my collection for a loooong time, but held off because of the poor reports on the previous discs. Though still far from ideal, this release sounds like one I can live with.
     
  10. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Well I'll chime in that the new R1 release of JdF looks INFINITELY better than the previous one, but as Paul says, it does look too yellow at times (going for that warm sunny look), but the clarity and overall image quality is night and day. Finally!

    For under $15, this one is a no brainer.
     
  11. Steve Y

    Steve Y Supporting Actor

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    Just for your info, I have a 27" TV that has an anamorphic mode. (bigger screens will see more flaws)

    The new release may not represent the ideal presentation of these films, but I want to echo the sentiment that this is the best I have ever seen them on home video. Compared to the last release(s) it is night and day. I noticed the gold hue to many of the scenes, but if anything the older release was too drab. It didn't capture the "sun-drenched" flavor of Provence. So I don't mind the "over-saturation", which if anything serves the film better.

    Check the scene towards the beginning of JDF where Cesar and Ugolin are first entering the orchard. In the old release the leaves were swimming with compression artifacts... in fact, nearly all scenes with swaying trees made it look as if Provence was swarming with mosquitos.

    This picture looks so much more stable. The film is very colorful and "busy" (lots moving on screen), so I do wish the subtitles had been colored more brightly (they are gray). They ARE the right size this time, however.

    One minor complaint - the default subtitles also include hearing-impaired information, so be ready to be notified every time someone sneezes, water gurgles, or a particularly loud bird sings.

    I recommend NOT boycotting this release because it could have been better. It's all around a better presentation, especially at this price point.
     
  12. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    as per above-I believe Beaver gave the 'best of' nod to the new R1
     
  13. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    The default subtitles on my player is the "none" setting, which is actually English subtitles. The "English" setting has the hearing impared descriptions.

    There is no way to compare the original DVD with this version. The original was an amateur compression job using the outdated laserdisc transfer, and the LD looks vastly superior to its DVD counterpart due to the lack of compression artifacts in every scene. I never even opened Manon after suffering through half the JdF DVD and calling it quits in disgust.

    The new release looks like film. I can finally enjoy these two movies on DVD, even though the color timing in places looks a little overdone.
     
  14. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    Jeff, I only have vauge memories now of that original MGM release- but in looking at the caps on the Beaver, I very much miss the old color timing of this film (that was on the dvd, both LD versions, and the original VHS tape). I missed seeing these theatrically so I don't know that those earlier editions were any closer- maybe they were, maybe they weren't.
    But they were how I originally bonded with the films so in that way, the new look feels kind of alien to me.

    I do think a 'cooler' timing here would have some logical and emotional validity- moreso than the warmer timing on these new transfers. For one thing the setting here isn't the Mediteranian or the tropics, it is a cooler climate (note how people are dressed even in summer) and the terrain is harsher- lots of rock, scrub, etc. not lush vegetation- but more importantly is how the sense of color fits into the films mood and atmosphere
    Warmer = comforting, nurturing
    Cooler = colder, harsher, more inhospitable
    the cooler timing subtly oppresses both Jean in the first film , and Ugolin in the second. The warmer timing in Manon, helps convey Ugolins passion as more visceral or relatable, whereas in the older transfers, the cooler timing seemed to create more distance. It seemed even more of a pathetic spectacle, because it was easier to watch it unfold in a detached way.

    Maybe I'll come around and love the new timing after a few more watches, but it is going to be hard to get over initially

    the other point I wanted to bring up was that while these new transfers seem more stable because of the lack of compression artifacts, They don't seem to offer more detail (despite the new anamorphic enhancement making use of more pixels) and I don't think they are nearly as 'pure'- Film grain has been filtered out of these (to help compress them efficently this time) and the film grain was likely what was giving the old discs such a problem. Grain is a bitch to compress because it changes in every single frame- there is no choice but to filter some of it out, and smear and smooth the rest of it to get a better encode- but when it goes so goes fine detail.
    I'm not telling you anything you don't know.
    And you can look in the caps on the Beaver and actually see a little more detail in the older non 16:9 caps

    so as better as these new discs are- they are still just a placeholder to me, trading some new problems for old problems.
    Most people, especially newer viewers won't ever notice these, so in the end the new release represent a solid net plus.

    but I'll still hold out hope for better someday.
     
  15. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    I'm not defending the new color timing, I think it is far too yellow in places, but chosing between the old and new DVD(s) is a no brainer. These are simply the best presentation of these films we've had to date - not that they couldn't be better, but they are the benchmark. I agree with you on the emotional differences in the timing, but there is an irony (which these films are all about) in having a warm and appealing atmosphere against this storyline.

    I'm going to disagree with you about the detail being better on the old discs, despite what any single frame grabs would suggest. The old discs were nothing but an abomination, and were unwatchable due to the compression artifacts and edge enhancement that left every background squirming. Grain is not an excuse - I've seen plenty of heavy grain transfers that look fabulous - these were just horrid compression jobs on an outdated transfer that had no business being released by a major.
     
  16. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    Jeff, I'll readily defer to your judgement about the eariler disc as I'm sure you logged a lot more time with them than I did. The last disc wasn't in my player more than 10 minutes before it was ejected and tossed into the 'ebay pile'.
    I only suspect that the new one is missing detail attendant in the higher frequencies, because some of the background details still look a little smeared to me (tho nowhere near as bad as the R2 anamorphic discs).
    I have the feeling that these should be fairly grainy films (I'm thinking something like the way Paramounts King Kong looks on HD). I could be wrong- its just the impression I get.

    As far as the new timing providing some irony- yeah I can see that.
    Even when directors intentionally do something, that isn't to say that the opposite, thru accident or chance, might not work in it's own way, and sometimes can work even stronger.

    I expect it will just take a few more viewings to get used to. At some point I may come to appreciate it more- who knows.
    We tend to find reasons to support our prejudices and vice versa, I suppose.
     
  17. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    After the attrocious initial DVD release I think we are justified in being critical of any new release, and I certainly feel that this one has a different feel due to the color than the old versions, but only the talent involved could say for sure what the original intent was or how closely this version matches it.

    At least I can actually watch these films again without the urge to purge! [​IMG]
     
  18. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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    "January 13, 2009

    Claude Berri, the French filmmaker who was a fixture in his country's film industry for more than 50 years and is perhaps best known for directing "Jean de Florette," which earned him international acclaim, died Monday [Jan. 12 2009]. He was 74.

    Berri, whose short film "Le Poulet" (The Chicken) was awarded an Oscar in 1965, was hospitalized Sunday in Paris and died of what his agent, Dominique Segall, described as a "cerebral vascular" problem -- language often used to describe a stroke.

    He was in the midst of making "Tresor" ("Treasure") -- his 20th directing project -- when he fell ill. According to Segall, the film will continue "despite his departure."

    Director Claude Lelouch said on Europe-1 radio that, with the death of Berri, "We are losing perhaps the most important postwar French producer."

    Berri "knew how to remain a spectator. . . . He always made popular movies, but he aimed high," Lelouch said.

    "Jean de Florette" (1986) and its sequel "Manon of the Spring" (1986) were among his biggest box office hits as a director. Both films were adapted from novelist Marcel Pagnol's vision of greed and revenge in the French countryside. He also directed "Germinal" (1993), adapted from the Emile Zola novel about the horrors of coal mining and a 19th-century strike."
     
  19. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    Just as a footnote, this double feature disc includes very nice transfers, compared to the abominations that MGM released as separate discs years ago. Buy with confidence.
     

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