Which Version of Orphans Of The Storm to buy?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Paul_Scott, Sep 8, 2003.

  1. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,546
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    it looks like there is an Image and a Kino version.
    any opinion of which is best?
    i also see an Alpha version.
    anybody seen that one?
     
  2. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    7,505
    Likes Received:
    234
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    KY
    Real Name:
    Michael Elliott
    I haven't seen the Alpha version of this but I'm guessing their print was probably taken from the Kino or Image version. The reason I say this is that if Image releases something then Alpha usually uses their prints. BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA and TEENAGERS FROM SPACE are two good examples. I noticed Alpha's November lineup has a lot of previous Image titles.

    I've heard Alpha's THE GOLEM is from the Kino disc as well.

    I've got the D.W. Griffith box set from Kino and highly recommend it. You get four filmss and around thirty shorts.
     
  3. Derek_McL

    Derek_McL Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2003
    Messages:
    316
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I've got the Kino version which I really enjoy but Bill Burns wrote here that the Image is tinted beautifully : I think he preferred that one. I think the transfers are very similar and I recall also that both have minor but slightly annoying mastering glitches : the Image repeats a small sequence and the Kino also has an odd glitch that just lasts a few seconds.
     
  4. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,546
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    is the Kino version tinted at all?
    i've also heard one is at a slower, more natural frame rate, but the score isn't as good...or something like that.
     
  5. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You're exactly right, Derek, though the brief glitch on Kino's edition (a strange "wrinkle" or encoding error across the frame) only lasts one or two frames, I believe (it's been a while since I last watched it), during the kidnapping sequence or right before it -- just enough to blink by noticeably at normal playback, and it's probably only noticeable because the Kino edition lacks tinting.

    The repeated sequence on the Image edition lasts for a fair chunk of time -- somewhere around thirty seconds, forty seconds, perhaps longer, I'm unsure now -- and begins at a title card that reads something along the lines of "the great orator begins his greatest oration," something like that (the card is unmistakable, even if my wording is a bit off). The sequence plays through once (up to ... hmmm, I believe a shot of Lillian Gish on a cart -- I hesitate to say more for fear of needless spoilers), then jumps back (with new tinting!) to that same title card and plays through again; the second time through the film continues past the sequence without any hiccups. I'm guessing it was duplicated at the film-to-tape stage, as the repetition is seamless.

    I love the tinting on Image's edition (the blurb on the DVD case says that exotic, elaborate tints were used by Griffith at the premiere, up to and including floodlights of color tossed up at the screen), but the disc and its box makes no claim that the tints used for the DVD are "original" or according to any particular spec -- the fact that the repeated sequence replays with alternate tinting makes me wonder if the choices were not arbitrary. I still like them, and it's a little difficult, having watched the film so many times with tints, to lose myself in it in strict B&W (Kino's edition tantalizes us with color tints on some of the scene selection thumbnails, in fact! But when you select them, or of course play the film in its entirety, there's not a single tint to be found), but the narrative was noticeably disrupted (at a key point of tension) by the repetition on Image's disc, and that's nicely remedied on Kino's.

    Months after we last discussed it here, I'm afraid I'm still undecided. They're a toss up for me. Both are good, neither are definitive. Much like the "much better image quality and framing, wonderful score (if you get the corrected stereo pressing; the first pressing was stereo with one blank channel, or in other words mono but not center channel mono), but a different edit" situation with Kino's Intolerance (a film released to theatres in multiple edits), it might be worthwhile for fans to own both editions (Image's Intolerance also provides a nice and extensive on-disc essay, while a few video and text supplements, including an intro by Orson Welles filmed for the Killiam silents television show back in the 60's, accompany the Kino edition; of the two cuts and differing speeds, I prefer Kino's edition, despite one loose end Image ties up and Kino's cut does not, and when taken with the dramatic improvement in picture quality and, for my money, in the score, in this case the pluses weigh much more heavily in Kino's favor). Unlike Intolerance, though, Orphans of the Storm is, so far as I know and can discern, the same cut on both discs (repeated sequence aside), and also the same speed, Paul, but once again Kino's edition offers a few supplements of note, including a bizarre little radio eulogy by Erich von Stroheim, an Orson Welles intro (again from that Killiam television series), an early silent short co-starring, rather than directed by, Griffith (Rescued from the Eagle's Nest, which is nothing to write home about; I believe I've run across it as a supplement on another disc I can't call to mind at the moment), brief footage from Griffith's funeral, a selection of photo stills, and some text-based material (namely a period write-up on Griffith's life and contributions to film that uses some of the most ostentatiously eclectic references and word choices I've ever run across in a published essay! It makes for a fun read as a result) ... I shouldn't neglect to mention these, as I think I may have the last time we discussed the two editions around here (I was a bit hung up on the tinting at the time, and honestly I'm still bothered by its lack on Kino's disc). They're nice, but so is the (normal! [​IMG]) essay on the Image case ....

    Well, there's no deciding it for me. [​IMG] Both get a mild recommendation, one no more, really, than the other. If tints are important for you, Paul, go with Image. If you can take 'em or leave 'em, go with the Kino edition, which fixes a bad narrative glitch on the Image disc and includes a few insubstantial but enjoyable supplements (particularly that wild period essay).

    P.S. Silent fans take note: Milestone's definitive (I haven't seen it yet, but it should be definitive) Phantom of the Opera streets today, and includes both the original silent version of the film and the re-release version, here restored under the exacting care and passion of Photoplay Productions and Kevin Brownlow. [​IMG] The DVD is published on behalf of Milestone by Image, but don't confuse the new release with Image's older, re-release version-only edition of David Shepard's Phantom restoration (itself quite good).
     
  6. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2001
    Messages:
    3,762
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Real Name:
    Damin J. Toell
     
  7. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If anyone has the original laserdisc edition, a quick check to see if the repeated sequence is also repeated on that edition might indicate whether a new master was created for the Image DVD. Off-hand, I'd presume it's a laser reissue.

    Shepard did, indeed, produce both the Image and Kino discs (Jack Theakston mentioned elsewhere on the HTF that the Griffith Masterworks box for Kino was Shepard's final collaboration with the company, as they've now reportedly parted ways), which makes the omission of tinting on the latter all the more puzzling. The fact that tints can be found in some of the scene selection thumbnails, as mentioned earlier, has always led me to believe they were omitted by error, not by intent (in which case they were presumably electronic tints applied during encoding), but Kino hasn't announced any sort of replacement, and currently shipping copies, according to news around here, continue to lack tints. Kino never announced their fix for the stereo error on Intolerance, though -- one simply had to contact them, send in the old disc at one's own minimal standard mail expense, and they'd mail out a fixed pressing (I was less than pleased with the beat up condition of the DVD case they sent with my replacement, which looks vaguely as if it may have been carefully opened by Edward Scissorhands* to check the disc inside, something which would be unnecessary for replacements if they'd indicate newer printings with new serial numbers, but that's another story ... I may just repurchase the dang thing). But I had no idea the fix was available until it was mentioned here.

    So ... I remain eager to hear any news from those who are just now purchasing the Kino Orphans, so as to see if tints are ever restored to the film, perhaps in a sparing way that matches not the Image disc, but rather the suggested tintings of the scene selection menu on Kino's disc. If such a fix ever surfaces, I'd like to compare any identifying numbers on the case -- and if the newer pressing can be so identified over older pressings, I believe I'd just go the route of repurchasing it this time around, rather than trying to mail in my old copy.

    But in the meantime, it appears Kino's copy continues to ship without tinting, despite Shepard's involvement ... and why, we may never know. [​IMG] One would think he'd make mention of the change in the supplements -- if he knew about it, that is. Hmmmmmmm. As a recent song says, "how bizarre."

    * I exagerate slightly, but the deeply gouged scratches on the front are none too pleasing, particularly given the several weeks of turnaround time. I only mention the experience here as fair warning for those who find such aesthetic matters of importance.
     
  8. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2001
    Messages:
    3,762
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Real Name:
    Damin J. Toell
    I e-mailed David Shepard about this, and he supplied me with the following information:

     
  9. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ah HA! I knew those tinted scene selection thumbnails were fishy!

    Um ...

    Hmmm. I'm at once overjoyed that I'm not crazy for thinking tints an important part of this film and an odd omission from Kino's release, and yet greatly saddened that yet another disc in the Griffith Masterworks set has a glitch (after the Intolerance stereo glitch, to say nothing of troubles with earlier Kino discs, such as the brief encoding glitch on The Love Trap, the missing chapters and resultant unplayability of my copy of Hangmen Also Die, the missing disc in my copy, or rather what would have been my copy, of The Good Fairy ...). What to do? As with Intolerance, I'd probably repurchase the disc if a fix were offered, rather than wind up with another gouged box via a mail-in, but ... how to know if and when the problem is corrected?

    Damin, if you hear anything from Mr. Shepard regarding an imminent fix and any indication on the box that might allow consumers to know one from the other (Criterion has a great system for this: they seem to generally print "first pressing" or "second pressing" in one of the small info fields on the back of their cases), please post it. This is one of my favorite silent films, and I'd love to correct this problem.

    Thanks for the info! [​IMG]
     
  10. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,546
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    thanks for all the info guys, its a big help!
    i probably would have gone with the Kino version as i like the jacket design better, but no tints would be a deal breaker.

    i actually own the LD (i thought it was a republic disc- haven't checked it in a while) i do know that is tinted.
    thats always been the way i've ever seen the film including a showing on A&E in the late 80's (they used to show silents frequently then).
    i can check for the repetetive scene if you have a general time frame to look at.

    in this case i may just spring for the Alpha version
     
  11. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I don't have a timecode for it, Paul, but I can describe the scene. It's near the end of the film, and the rest I'll put in spoiler tags here for those who haven't yet seen it:

    Lillian Gish's character is condemned to the guillotine; after she's hauled off, a famous figure whose name I've forgotten pops up to make his argument before the court that she must be spared; this oration begins with the title card I mentioned earlier, though my wording may be a bit off. The film cuts away from him to show Lillian being carted away to her doom, and I believe the cutting continues to show both of them as her doom approaches. Not long into this sequence, a cut back to the orator proves to be not a new cut, but rather a cut back to the beginning of the sequence, with the aforementioned title card. From this point the portion of the sequence we've just watched replays and then seamlessly continues on with the rest of the film. Tinting differs between the repetition and the first time the sequence plays, but the title card gives it away -- it's the precise same sequence; Kino's edition fixes the glitch, something I presume David Shepard orchestrated in an attempt to make their edition definitive; the lack of tints undermines that aim, of course.

    If you're familiar with the sequence, I'd be curious to know if it's repeated on the laserdisc, something that might answer to the nature of the master used for the Image DVD. I don't know that Alpha's a good choice, though, Paul -- you'll likely find yourself beset by compression artifacts (is it a single layered disc? Image's and Kino's are both dual layered for this epic) and, possibly, erroneous speeds. Image's disc is very pleasing, and the repeated section, while annoying, by no means ruins the viewing experience. [​IMG]

    Whatever edition you decide to get, I hope you enjoy it! If you already own the laserdisc, though, and if it's presented at the proper speed, I might recommend waiting to see if anything comes of a Kino correction, as the supplements on their disc might make a DVD upgrade that much more worthwhile.
     
  12. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2001
    Messages:
    3,762
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Real Name:
    Damin J. Toell
    Bill:
     
  13. Derek_McL

    Derek_McL Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2003
    Messages:
    316
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Well I'm reasonably happy with the Kino. The extras are very interesting particularly that bizarre eulogy by Von Stroheim. He says he only has 15 mins to sum up Griffith and talks for about half an hour ! That sounds like Erich as one critic said "Von Stroheim is a genius but he is badly in need of a stop watch".

    I really enjoyed the film tints or no tints and would have thought not knowing whether it was night or day would be pretty obvious to me !? Also a minor glitch in the playback I would thought is a lot less serious than a repeated section that lasts minutes.

    Still I suppose I applaud anyone who can encourage Kino to fix all the glitches tinting or otherwise.

    If they don't fix them Paul whatever you do don't buy the Alpha version which is likely to be derived from a poorer print with compression artifacts.
     
  14. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Messages:
    858
    Likes Received:
    68
    Trophy Points:
    610
    Location:
    New York
    Real Name:
    Jack Theakston
    Don't bother with the Alpha disk, it's poorly encoded and completely a dupe. Stick with Image/Kino's. I prefer Kino's despite the glitch due to the extra cleaning up they did to it before completion.

    To contact Kino the fastest, I suggest emailing Jessica Rosner ([email protected]) about it. She's PR there and can handle all the questions about it.

    To ORPHANS, I think tinting is quite essential. I haven't watched my Kino edition in a while, and I find it strange that it's not tinted, but I do remember Image's tinting being a little on the odd side (not the right choice of contemporary colors, etc). The BIRTH OF A NATION tints seem to be right off of a film element and no video intervention.

    Anyway, the Griffith set is a must buy at any rate and I can personally reccomend it despite its very minor flaws. The Biographs in particular stand out as some of the best transfers I have seen to date of them. MUSKETEERS OF PIG ALLEY in particular is a very good transfer and despite minor wobble, THE UNSEEN ENEMY looks better than I have ever seen it.

    Just my two cents.
     
  15. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Speaking of the Biographs, I have yet to fire up all five of my Biograph discs (one or two additional Biograph shorts can be located by the determined collector on non-Biograph releases, including a Pickford feature or two from Milestone, if memory serves) and compare 'em, but that's definitely on the agenda. Image's two-disc set and Kino's are very similar (they repeat many titles between them, both both have a few the other does not, which is why I got 'em both), and presumably both were produced by Shepard. The fifth disc is the second disc of the Kino Birth of a Nation set. I'd love to see someone produce a Slapstick Encyclopedia-sized box for the Griffith Biographs -- while we have a few dozen or so on various DVDs, possibly fewer, I understand many times this number survive (hundreds? I'm not sure how many he actually made). Shorts produced by others at the company would also be welcome on disc.

    Incidentally, it should be noted that each of the discs that comprise the Griffith Masterworks set is also available separately, so if anyone would like to favor Image's Orphans, they could buy the other titles from Kino without repeating that one (just be sure you've gotten the corrected stereo for Intolerance -- a somewhat different cut, contrast, fine detail and framing for this title are much improved in Kino's edition, and I prefer the frame rate of Kino's as well, which looks a bit different than Image's).

    Those looking for further Griffith titles should note a number of features available only from Image (I suppose Alpha or other like PDs may have editions out, but the only ones worth your time on DVD would be the Images): The Battle of the Sexes (1928) looks very good as I recall, and while it's been too long since I last viewed them to comment on quality, other Image Griffiths include America, Sally of the Sawdust, and Way Down East.

    I believe an edition of his Abraham Lincoln (1930) is available in Region 2, but this hasn't yet come to Region 1.
     
  16. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Messages:
    858
    Likes Received:
    68
    Trophy Points:
    610
    Location:
    New York
    Real Name:
    Jack Theakston
    On Biograph:

    You know, it's amazing; out of around 450 films that Griffith directed at Biograph, only about 5 remain lost. There are a few titles that really deserve release out of those, but get the usual, "people will buy what they know" routine. The only gripe I have is with the 16mm material for THE NEW YORK HAT, which unfortunately lacks the detail that you can see on Image's transfer of it on BEFORE THERE WAS NEW YORK, THERE WAS FORT LEE, NJ. The 35mm there is from I believe Mary Pickford's collection and is ten times as better, albeit some nasty nitrate decomp which had to be filled in with 16mm bits.

    The thing that really stands out on the Kino Biographs is the musical score, with a lovely mix of Robert Israel/Biograph Quartet, Jon Mirsalis, and I believe Gaylord Carter organ scores. Israel really did a lovely job with several of the scores, using my personal favorite contemporary pieces (one cue, "The Crafty Spy" by Gaston Borch, was a standard one I would use in the exact same spot in MUSKETEERS OF PIG ALLEY).

    The reason for the Biograph's survival is an interesting story. Biograph was known to be a little edgy with their money, so the bank they'd get their loans from eventually sent a man (his name is the only part I forget) to do their books for them on a professional basis. When the company went under in 1914-15, their debts still hadn't been paid, so the bank took all of their negatives going back to '07/'08 or so. The negatives stayed in the vaults for years, untouched and uncorrupted until the 30s, when they were reaccessed by the bank and deemed of no real value to them. The banker who had worked for Biograph realized the importance of the films, and had them all stored on his salary and transported to his house. Eventually, he donated them I believe to an institute.
     
  17. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ah, very good. Thanks Jack. [​IMG] As to The New York Hat: did Shepard and Image use the 35mm material for its appearance on the Image Biograph set (D.W. Griffith: Years of Discovery 1909-1913), or is that version, like the Kino set, from 16mm? I have both, but haven't watched them yet.

    As to Before Hollywood There Was Fort Lee, N.J. -- how is this release? How does The Wishing Ring hold up? I see from a back cover scan that it includes a Mont Alto Orchestra score. Is it a solid feature with good entertainment value, and what sort of elements were used? I've been debating a purchase of that release, but haven't committed yet.
     
  18. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    4,300
    Likes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    0
    To continue Jack's story, the banker donated the films to the Museum of Modern Art, and inadvertently started the first organized film preservation effort. The MOMA transferred all the material to safety stock long before nitrate decomposition really became an issue, based solely on the fire hazard, and thus the Griffith Biographs are the best-preserved collection of silents extant today. Had Griffith worked for Edison, we'd have precious little of his early work, and if he'd shot for Universal or Famous Players (later Paramount), we'd have nothing at all.
     
  19. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Messages:
    858
    Likes Received:
    68
    Trophy Points:
    610
    Location:
    New York
    Real Name:
    Jack Theakston
    Bill, by all means, get BEFORE THERE WAS HOLLYWOOD. Thrilling documentary, only a little spoiled by its primitive 60s retrodoc fashion. THE WISHING RING is an extremely charming movie and holds up very well. Mont Alto's score for it is beautiful; a really nice choice of cues. The other film on it I forget the title of is also an interesting look at early moviemaking within a movie. The sources for both are pretty good 35mm, with good choice tinting (Wishing Ring does have some nasty emulsion scatches at tail ends of the reels). Worth the buy overall, though.

    Mark, thanks for clearing up the rest. I knew I forgot a part! Unfortunately, MOMA had some bad points. I know that William S. Hart donated all that he had (20 features I believe it was) and something like 5 got transferred and the rest dumped.
     
  20. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,546
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    i went ahead and bought the Alpha version of OOTS the other night.
    i had wanted the Image version, but they still haven't marked its msrp down, and $20 just seems too steep for a film that would probably not get that many plays (i never even watched my laser copy ).

    the PQ of the Alpha verison is ok.
    its not up to the levels of the Warner Lon Chaney collection, or something like Kinos Black Pirate, but it is, amazingly ( or disappointingly depending on your pov), about on par with the two Kino Clara Bow films i have on disc.
    its watchable on a front projector, but nothing more.

    the area that makes me wish i had the Image disc is the musical track.
    they dropped in classical music that is thoughtlessly inappropriate to almost every scene and the film is impossible to watch with that track turned up.
    thats a real shame.

    if you can cue up more appropriate material, the Alpha version is ok for the money (a little over $5 from DDD).
    its certainly not the worst public domain disc i've ever seen.

    i'll be interested to see if the milestone IT is much of an improvment over the Kino version which looks pretty disappointing compared to my memories of the Voyager LD.

    in any case, the film that spurred my renewed enthusiasm in silents was on TCM a ccouple weeks ago - The Wind.
    i really hope that Warner puts that one out soon.
    i had forgotten how great that movie was.
     

Share This Page