R2 Chariots of Fire - haloes, specks, and a missing line?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Nicole P, Sep 10, 2001.

  1. Nicole P

    Nicole P Stunt Coordinator

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    Chariots is one of my favourites but the only way I have ever seen it is on well worn VHS.
    While the R1 release has been around for a while, I held off because of its 1.33:1 format. When the widescreen R2 disc came out last month, I eagerly obtained a copy.
    Compared to my VHS, the overall experience was pretty good. However, in terms of a DVD transfer, it could have been so much better.
    The aspect ratio is 1.78:1. My VHS version, and I suspect the R1 version, are open matte not pan & scan. I checked this by running tape vs disc. Yes, the composition looks much better in widescreen.
    Colour saturation and blacks are the strongest point. I never realised how rich the red roses, green hills, and dark blue suits were. What spoiled it all was the way sharpness and contrast seemed to have been turned full for longer distance shots resulting in haloes and eye-aching whites.
    The famous credit sequences are marred by streaks and spots but thankfully this improves in the film itself.
    The stereo mix was acceptable but the music does tend to swell up to a much louder level when it appears. There were a few cases of lip-synch being off but I think these were due to overdubbing. Sybil's farewell at the dock is still indistinctly lost in the ambient noise - I noticed this on tape too.
    But all this I could have put up with until I found that some dialogue had gone missing altogether.
    Just before Eric boards the steamer, he tells Sandy not to go with him as personal coaches cannot accompany the athletes. Sandy replies "I'm not your coach, I'm your valet". For some reason this scene is cut. Could anyone tell me if it is included in the R1 disc?
    It is the 20th anniversary of the film this year. Was it hoping too much to ask for at least a good, tidy, complete transfer? Is it pushing the bounds even further to hope for a special edition, perhaps for the 21st anniversary?
     
  2. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    This is one of my favorites of all time ( probably in my top five films ) and I've viewed the film theatrically 6 or 7 times, and countless times on VHS, Laser Disc and the current R1 DVD release. I swear that I've *never* heard Sandy utter that line when Eric is departing. From memory...
    Eric reacts with surprise and asks Sandy if he has come to see him off. Sandy replies that he has come to see himself off. As they board the ship via the gangplank, Eric is queried about his chances in the Olympic Games by a reporter. He then discovers that the first heat is on a Sunday and discusses it briefly with Sandy.
    Perhaps there is an alternate cut, but no U.S. release I've ever viewed had that line in the film.
    Regarding the aspect ratio I recently performed a comparison of a letterboxed presentation on Turner Classic Movies and the R1 DVD. Briefly the DVD was missing about 5 % of the screen image on either side of the frame and the headroom and footroom were opened up about 10 % ( or thereabouts ) and the image was zoomed in as well. ( Cutting off the sides. ?? )
    Here is the other thread with my comparison...
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum15/HTML/029081.html
    - Walter.
    [Edited last by Walter Kittel on September 10, 2001 at 10:57 PM]
     
  3. Roger Mathus

    Roger Mathus Supporting Actor

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    Nicole, are you talking about the Region 2 Japan release of earlier this year from Fox?
     
  4. Nicole P

    Nicole P Stunt Coordinator

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    Walter,
    Thanks for the thread, more on that in a moment.
    I sat down with my VHS copy and this is the transcript of my "Mystery of the Missing Lines"
    The part between Sandy gesturing to the gangplank and moving to the gangplank is missing.
    On the DVD it is a clean cut, in other words, one can hear Sandy say "boat" during the cut to the gangplank. From your comments this appears then to be the original US release. As I mentioned before, my VHS version is the only one I have known so the scene above did come as a surprise.
    As to the aspect ratio, 1.78 appears right most of the time except for three scenes in particular.
    1. The game of cricket in the ballroom. One of the left-hand players behind Liddell's wicket seems uncomfortably cropped.
    2. Harold and Sybil's dinner, Sybil talking to the waiter's nose (all that is visible of him)
    3. Lord Birkenhead's conversation with the Duke of Sutherland about Liddell. One can hear Liddell, Lindsay, and the Prince of Wales talking in the background left-hand side but can only see Liddell and half of Lindsay.
    The confusing thing is that if it wasn't 1.78, what was it?
    Another Chariots mystery.
    Roger,
    The edition that I am referring to is the R2 UK PAL version 01118DVD that
    was released on Aug 6th.
    Cheers,
    Nicole P.
    --"So where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within."--
    [Edited last by Nicole P on September 11, 2001 at 07:34 AM]
     
  5. andrew markworthy

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    I saw COF the first day it was released (the first time it was released in Britain it was presented pretty much as an art house movie) and upon its re-release after it won the Oscar. My recollection is that the 'valet' line was missing the second time I saw it in the cinema (indeed, the re-release print generally seemed shabbier). Having said that, the line *was* there when it was broadcast on the TV in Britain.
    However, according to the Internet Movie Database, there is a further, and more notable variant. In the US version, the cricket scene in the ballroom is much shorter and there is an additional scene in Cambridge railway station when Harold meets Monty for the first time. There is also explicit mention that Harold married Sybil. These are missing from the Brit version, but the cricket scene is longer.
    COF, incidentally, is a wonderful source of trivia, not least being that Dodi Fayed (who died with Princess Di) was an executive producer. There are numerous historical anachronisms, some of which are listed in the Internet Movie Database. A couple not noted there are that Lidell knew about the Sunday race a while before boarding the boat and that Abrahams did not break the record for the run around the college courtyard (it was done by someone else a couple of years later).
     
  6. Nicole P

    Nicole P Stunt Coordinator

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    Andrew,
    If IMDB is correct, then this version is a curious mix of both the UK and US releases.
    It does not have the station but contains the cricket scene with the cut to Aubrey and Harold getting out of the taxi at Cambridge.
    The closing captions state that Harold married Sybil.
    I don't think my VHS version says that and when I saw it on the DVD version, I thought that I mustn't have been squinting hard enough before.
    Curiouser and curiouser...
     

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