No Zhivago reviews anywhere?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by ReggieW, Oct 27, 2001.

  1. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    What gives? This is a major title that will street within the next week and a half and no reviews? What's the hold up?
    Reg
     
  2. Chad Gregory

    Chad Gregory Supporting Actor

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    Not that I would consider them a major review site...
    But dvdtown.com has a review up for the disc and is quite impressed with the visuals.
    Hopefully the dvdfile review will be up soon.
    -Chad
     
  3. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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  4. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Producer

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    Whatever the merits of the transfer, I must say I agree with DVD Authority about the film's content. I find ZHIVAGO "Zhivagooey," a real hard sit, and by far the least of Lean's epics. [RYAN'S DAUGHTER, at least, inspired a nice Irish pub in my neighborhood, decorated with stills from the movie.] Its sentimentalizing of the Russian people and their future is hard to take, particularly the notoriously poor closing shot--as Pauline Kael commented, "Would Lean place a rainbow over the future of England?"
    Needless to say, the SE is not on my "buy" list. I would recommend that the uninitiated, or those who have only fuzzy memories of the thing, rent first or take a gander at one of TCM's fairly frequent letterboxed airings before inviting this DR. into their homes. Don't the characters (mostly played by Brits) go around calling each other "chap"? Aarrgh.
     
  5. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    To each his own, Bob.
    DOCTOR ZHIVAGO has always been one of my favorite movies. Some of it is a bit like a soap opera, but the personal conflicts and emotions are played against an immense backdrop. The story gives us a unique perspective of the historical events that changed the lives of millions and the scenery is tremendous.
    Personally, I recommend a purchase, but I'll agree that this probably isn't a movie you'll often, so a rental may do for some.
     
  6. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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    I read a review of the DVD by Doug Pratt at http://dvdlaser.com/ where he compared it side by side against the LD and found a "huge chunk" of picture information missing on the left side of the image. The extras don't look all that inspiring, either. Whilst I want the anamorphic enhancement, I might wait until some further confirmation that the image hasn't been cropped or zoomed before a purchase.
     
  7. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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  8. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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    I've seen the new DVD and, in most repects, it is a very nice disc. However, there is very visible ringing in the image throughout. It appears to be a case of too much digital enhancement in an attempt to bring out the most detail in what has been reported to be rather badly worn film elements. Considering MGM deemed the film elements unacceptible for a new transfer some three years ago, and Warner has spent at least a year working on it, I'd say they were able to coax a nearly miraculous transfer out of these elements. The down side is a bit too much on the digital processing.
    Comparing the previous laserdisc editions to this DVD is, well, no comparison. This movie has never looked or sounded this good on video.
    This also, I believe, Warner's first DVD-14. The 200-minute film is spread across two sides of one disc in this two-disc set with the side break occurring at the intermission. The intermission, if my recollection is correct (I'm not at home to check right now), is well past the halfway point so a single layer for the second part of the film was more than adequate. The supplements are on a second DVD-5. I agree the supplements are not of the quality of this film, but then, Doctor Zhivago is not the kind of disc one should be buying for the supplements.
     
  9. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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    Sorry for embellishing the "chunk". But a chunk is a chunk. I see little point in comparing the image to another cropped version of the film if the image is, indeed, cropped from the original version which was replicated in the 1989 Laserdisc. I am sure this DVD will look vastly better than the LD, but if the DVD removes picture information which should be there, I can't see much use in purchasing the DVD. If the 1989 LD showed too much of the image (ie it was suppossed to be cropped), then I will gladly buy the DVD. I would just like some clarification, is all.
     
  10. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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  11. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the links.
    Obi, what's wrong with the quality of the supplements? I've already seen the hour-long 1995 documentary on the laserdisc and found it quite interesting, though I've seen none of the featurettes listed on this Dvd. It does have a commentary and an isolated track, so why is it such a bad SE in terms of supplements? I agree though, this isn't a film that you simply buy for supplements, and yes, it would be nice if RAH could chime in on the cropping issue. This has always been one of my favorite films, and I couldn't disagree with Pauline Kael more on this film (and nearly ALL of the Kubrick films she panned). It's epic film-making at its best imho.
    R.
     
  12. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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    I'm not Robert Harris, but I do have some pictures [​IMG].
    Submitted for your approval....
    Following are two frames from the film. The first image is a (rather poor) digital camera snap of the last LD release fo Doctor Zhivago. The second is a screen cap from the new DVD. Yes, there is obvious cropping on the left side of the image in the DVD transfer. However, I never noticed it before, but the framing of the LD is noticably off-center to the right. So, while the LD has more picture information on the left side, the DVD offers a visibly more balanced look.
    #1 - look at the centering of the title and at the trees in the backfround painting...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    #2 - There is some sort of pole on the left side of the frame in the first image that has been all but cropped off of the second. But look for some additional image on the right side of the DVD frame.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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    Reggie:
    I didn't mean to imply there is anything wrong with the supplements, only that I think a film of this stature deserves something more than a rehash of existing materials. There is very little that is actually new here. The commentary track is new, but everything else came from the vaults.
     
  14. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    Thanks Obi!
    I figured that's what you meant in regards to the supplements. I did feel similarly about Columbia's Gandhi (which should have been a two disc SE imho), On the Waterfront, and From Here to Eternity. Since I was never a laser owner, the featurettes and screen tests will luckily be new to me on Zhivago, but for those who already have the laser....I very much see your point. The only incentive to purchase the DVD would be the improved picture quality and audio commentary, as I hear the audio appears to be lifted from the last LD incarnation. Thanks for the review, and I do look forward to this disc. Heck, I've even got an original one-sheet framed from 1965 on my wall to the left of me here!
    Reg
     
  15. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    It looks like no version has the entire frame, and it also looks like there's no reason to call any one version the "correct" one. Thanks for the info, Obi.
    ------------------
     
  16. Danny_N

    Danny_N Second Unit

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    If I am not mistaken, Doctor Zhivago was fully restored for theatrical release a few years ago. So Warner should have had very good material to work with for the DVD transfer. "Badly worn elements" sounds a bit strange then or they haven't used the restored version for this DVD for some strange reason.
    I hope this is released in a case like Citizen Kane and not a snapper like the 2-disc JFK. Snapper wouldn't look that nice next to the beautiful editions of Bridge On The River Kwai and Lawrence Of Arabia [​IMG]. Can anybody confirm the packaging?
    Can't wait to have this in my DVD player.
    Danny
     
  17. Dharmesh C

    Dharmesh C Supporting Actor

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    I've never seen Dr Z and I am a Lean fan!!! I've been waiting for this DVD, will be purchasing it.
    ------------------
    British film-making at its finest.
    Superman CINEMA
    http://www.deceptions.net/superman
     
  18. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

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    I've now had the opportunity to take a reasonable sampling of the new Zhivago DVD.
    First, however, a bit of background.
    DZ was shot in 35mm Panavision, rather than in 65mm as DL would have liked. It was MGM's major release for 1965, but had problems even before release.
    MGM wished to have it ready for the Academy Awards, meaning it had to be in release for a certain number of days in December, but the film wasn't ready.
    DL agreed to deliver a rough cut for release with the proviso that the studio would then allow him 12 weeks to go back, recut and redub the entire film as he felt necessary.
    The film opened to so-so reviews in its original cut which was a release in 70mm six track in hard ticket venues. Every print was produced via optical printing from the original A & B rolls -- the original negative.
    On approximate a weekly basis the prints in release --- changed.
    A reel at a time, the film received its fine cut with reels being reprinted and replaced on a constant basis, a reel at a time. This placed additional wear on original elements.
    When the entire film was completed and the title began its route toward general release, 35mm elements were produced.
    As with the recently restored Funny Girl from Columbia, the Zhivago elements were overprinted, however one must make the assumption that the majority of the damage was done after the MGM Labs shut down.
    With MGM's shut down, and with the library firmly in the grasp of Turner, the negative was moved to other labs where the greater damage occurred, inclusive of slugs, torn elements, and eventually an entirely missing roll of original.
    When the film was "restored" several years ago, it was merely copied as cheaply as possible, placing even more wear on the elements, which finally made their way to WB.
    Those of us who love this film are extremely fortunate that WB has been able to get the image from newly created elements that they have -- with a bit of digital help.
    While I have not compared the new DVD transfer to an original print, and I see no reason to do so, it is IMHO quite representative of the film and betters the SE "restored" laser disc by a landslide.
    As has been noted by others, that there is an area on the left side of the frame missing from the new transfer, with slightly less missing on the right. These anomolies might well have been lost under normal cropping in 35mm and certainly would have been cropped in 70mm blowups, of which this transfer is more representative.
    I would not only have no problem adding this disc to a library, but would highly recommend its purchase as an extremely viable version which well represents the desires of the filmmakers.
    RAH
    [Edited last by Robert Harris on October 28, 2001 at 02:26 PM]
     
  19. Kyle Milligan

    Kyle Milligan Stunt Coordinator

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    Mark's exhaustive look at the fabulous DVD can be found here.
    Perhaps the multitude of bonus features can account for the delay in reviews being posted. It is an important release, but one sadly many will not be clamouring over.
    ------------------
    Kyle
    www.toldyouso.net
     
  20. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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