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Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Jan 7, 2020.
Maybe for some reason they can’t do an HD release of 10 C 23?
It’s available in HD on iTunes right now so they certainly have it mastered in that format already.
I can't see how this release will be able to top the sheer decadence of the set I already own and this is so fitting for the kind of movies DeMille liked to produce. So I would only be interested if the movies themselves were upgraded, especially the silent version, but it does not look like it.
Apart from that you got to wonder about Barrabas like every time one of these gets re-released in new packaging. I am sure that when it comes it will be fantastic but Sony surely take their time with it.
The silent version on disc 3 of the Blu-ray box set is in 1080p, though I can't vouch whether or not it is an upscale. The silent version of Ben-Hur is only 480i on its Blu-ray disc though. I wish Warner would consider finally giving us the silent Ben-Hur in HD because that is actually a very good film and deserves it. As for the silent Ten Commandments, have any of you actually watched it? Ugh. As much as I love silent cinema, it is just horrible. If you are expecting a silent version of the '56 film, you'll be in for a shock. A relatively small portion of the film is devoted to the story of Moses. Most of it is a morality tale set in contemporary times (that being 1923) of how two sons go separate ways, one abiding by the ten commandment while the other breaks them which leads to his eventual ruin.
The 1925 Ben-Hur was on a Blu-ray, but it was the SD master. It was not re-harvested or remastered in HD.
Agree. I Cleared up the confusion by stating in a couple posts later that it was in SD on a Blu-ray Disc. I was referring to the disc not the presentation.
Now can we get an HD version of BEN HUR 1925?
As they say, to each their own. I love the silent TEN COMMANDMENTS. I first saw it in a stunning tinted print at MOMA in the early 70's. I had never seen anything so beautiful; the textures and contrast seemed allied to the emotions of the film. DeMille was an extraordinary silent film director, who had an almost uncanny ability to create images that got under one's skin and into one's dreams and I think the contemporary version of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS is an excellent example of that.
While this is a redundant release for me, as I have the big gift set, this is an essential Blu-ray release for those who don't already have it and aren't 4K ready yet. The 6-disc dual format gift set split the 1956 film across two discs (two DVD-9s or two DVD-50s) plus supplements, with a third disc (DVD-9/BD-50) for the 1923 film and other supplements. This is pretty much like the deluxe 3-disc DVD released between the initial 2-disc "trailer only" DVD and the restored Blu-ray editions, with the major differences being remastering.
Just to clear up something, the 1923 is indeed a true HD master and looks fantastic. The organ score is by Gaylord Carter, who performed/recorded scores for a small run of Paramount silents released on VHS/laserdisc in the late 80s - the others being Wings, The Covered Wagon, Old Ironsides, Running Wild, The Last Command, The Docks of New York, and The Sheik. While organ might not be everyone's cup of tea, Carter was probably the finest silent film organist who ever lived. For that matter, he was Harold Lloyd's preferred accompanist for his own films while he was alive. When silent films make it to Blu-ray, Carter's name belongs in the same pantheon as Carl Davis, Robert Israel, and Timothy Brock. (Note: The only shortcoming of Paramount's HD master of The Ten Commandments is from what I remember, it doesn't have any tinting and is straight B&W despite the Technicolor, stencil color, and tinted footage is provided as a separate extra in HD)
Also, it's worth noting that everything on the Blu-ray discs is true HD. Not just the two films, but the vintage featurette, trailers, making-of, and even the additional footage for the 1923 film are all in true HD.
It would require a whole new restoration. The current one was done on analog tape in the PAL standard.
I agree. The "50th Anniversary" 1925 Ben-Hur looks pretty soft and DVD-ish on its BD disc compared to the 1923 10 Commandments on the deluxe BD set (which looks to be 1080p to my eyes). Would LOVE a 1080p '25 Ben. Come on, WB!
Thanks, Patrick! I was going to buy this anyway, but now knowing the 1923 silent is in true HD makes me even more enthusiastic.
Excellent post! A minor point of correction: as far as I know, Mr. Carter never recorded a score for The Sheik. The score on the Paramount VHS was by Roger Bellon. On the other hand, you can add The Wedding March to the list of Paramount films for which Carter provided a score. If/when Criterion ever gets around to the film, I hope the score will be included. We're lucky that he lived a very long life and retained his skills well into old age. With the exception of a Vitaphone or Movietone score, you can't get any closer to hearing a true representation of what audiences of the silent era heard than Carter's work. Mary Pickford also engaged him to record scores for some of her films (his scores for Suds and Sparrows are on the Milestone DVDs), and he was well regarded by the late David Shepard.
Again, I get that some people don't like organ scores, and admittedly some organists were better than others (Lee Erwin, one of Carter's contemporaries, was frankly awful). However, the development of the theater organ (AKA the unit orchestra) is fairly unique and tied into the history of cinema. As such, we should consider the remaining instruments and scores by the likes of Carter, John Muri, and others to be treasures of our cinematic heritage. Criterion produced a wonderful documentary about the theater organ for its release of "The Kid Brother," and it well conveys the larger than life heft of the behemoth. Well worth checking out even for those not enamored by the organ's charms.
As for Carter's score for "The Ten Commandments," it is very good and very well recorded (theater organs aren't exactly easy to record). I applaud Paramount for retaining it.
I saw the same presentation of the '23 The Ten Commandments that lark144 saw at MoMA and I agree with his assessment. In a way, I almost prefer it to the modern one because there is no godawful dialogue.
What is really interesting is that DeMille restaged much of what he shot in 1923 for the remake. Compare the exodus sequences of both films and you'll find they are very similar and in some cases match shot for shot.
From the point of view of esthetics, THE 1923 TEN COMMANDMENTS is pretty hokey, filled with candy-colored, stationary shots of matte paintings that seems to go forever, and dialogue that makes THE FOUNTAINHEAD, by contrast, highly literate. And yet I love it. I saw the film when I was six. It was sunlight outside when we went in, and when the film was over, it was night and snowing. It seemed magical to me, which I will always associate with this film. I love watching it, in spite of all its flaws. The 1923 silent version is so much better, and I mean the whole gestalt, not just the biblical sequence. Still, I'm really looking forward to having both of them.
Mark, make an edit to the date of the sound version.
I saw "The Ten Commandments" with my Mom a couple of times in the early 1960's when it was re-released in our local theatres. My Mom was a big fan, and I acquired and we watched each new and improved home video version from VHS to laserdisc to DVD as they arrived over the years, kind of like an at-home version of re-releasing. My Mom had a serious stroke at the beginning of 2013, and she was in hospital for two months and then in a care facility for rehab for another month. That amazing "Ten Commandments" Blu-Ray box set came out at around that time, and I brought it to show my Mom, who was quite delighted by how elaborate the box was, especially that there were actually two tablets containing "The Ten Commandments". One Saturday in early April I asked the people at the care facility if I could bring Mom home for the afternoon to watch at least the first half, and that's what we did. It was a wonderful afternoon, and I told Mom we'd try it again the next Saturday so she could watch the second half. When I picked her up, I asked the doctor on duty if it would be okay if I didn't bring her back, and the doctor said sure, why not try it? We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of "The Ten Commandments" that day, and my Mom never did go back to the care facility, celebrating her 88th birthday at home a week later and spending nearly two more happy, comfortable, and active years with me there. So that wonderful Blu-Ray box set of that wonderful, corny old movie will always have a special place in my heart.
Thats a very great story, thank you for sharing it!