Which version of "Spartacus" to buy?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Greg_M, Sep 6, 2003.

  1. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    I'm looking to buy "Spartacus" I've heard the Criterion Set is better, but it also cost $30-$35 more than Universal's release.

    My main concern is the picture quality (not really interested in all the extras in this case)

    Is there a big difference in the transfers and in what ways?
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Yes, a very big difference. The Universal release isn't anamorphic.

    Criterion's release features:
     
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    What the man says. The Criterion Collection edition is the criterion transfer of this film.
     
  4. andrew markworthy

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    At the risk of being the dissenting voice, are you looking at this as a keeper or just viewing once? If the latter, then the Universal isn't *that* awful, and you can save money. However, if you're going to watch it more than once, then the Criterion, without a doubt.
     
  5. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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  6. Brent Avery

    Brent Avery Supporting Actor

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    I purchased the Criterion version of Spartacus on laserdisc within the last year and from what I can see most if not all of the extra features are on both the dvd and laserdisc. Currently I am using a Mitsubishi 27" direct view tv and the laserdisc player is a Sony MDP333- acceptable but not outstanding. The big question is - would the Universal version on dvd be worth the investment as I probably will not own a rptv for awhile yet and the film would be watched perhaps 2 or 3 times a year at best. Also, is the laserdisc worth holding on to? I have a number of titles that cost more then a few $ on ebay that are now on dvd at very reasonable prices that I decided to purchase, and except for the possibility of extra features not found on a dvd version cannot see ever watching. Of course I will hold on to them simply because one can never hope to get much if they were up for sale. One that worked out ( so far ) is The Enemy Below which I was anticipating as a dvd release but was then cancelled. The laserdisc version will still entertain well enough for awhile yet, unfortunately.
     
  7. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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  8. BruceKimmel

    BruceKimmel Stunt Coordinator

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    We need a new Hi-Def transfer of Spartacus. The Criterion is using the laser transfer as far as I know, and it just doesn't look that good. The restoration work on Spartacus was excellent and while the Criterion transfer was good for its day, there's been a lot of technology under the bridge or over the water or in the frying pan or whatever the hell the saying is - and we need a new transfer. NOW.
     
  9. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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  10. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  11. andrew markworthy

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  12. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  13. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    Just to confirm, the Criterion transfer is most definitely a new high-definition master from 65mm elements.

    The Criterion edition has perhaps the most brilliant collection of supplements I've ever come across. Two phenomenal commentary tracks on the first and a wealth of fascinating material on the second, including lots of MPAA correspondence (which I always look forward to) and vintage material on the Hollywood Ten blacklist. You couldn't ask for a better executed special edition - it's definitely in the all-time top five DVDs.
     
  14. BruceKimmel

    BruceKimmel Stunt Coordinator

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    I have no problem with the supplements. I have a problem with the transfer which does not look as good as it should, IN MY OPINION. If this is a new high-def master then something is wrong because it just isn't as sharp as it should be, IN MY OPINION. I've seen Spartacus in large format in theaters probably more than anyone on this board. I've seen other high def transfers of large format films and they are sharper than this. So, if it's a case of the film elements or the new neg created for the restoration not being sharp enough, then so be it.
     
  15. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Sorry, but that's a big assumption on your part, but otherwise, you're welcome to your opinion about the transfer.
     
  16. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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  17. greg_t

    greg_t Screenwriter

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    I just orded the Criterion today from dvdplanet for $32.99 and I had a $5 off coupon for them, so it worked out pretty well.
     
  18. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    The Criterion uses a hi-definition transfer that was performed by Universal as a basis. The Universal transfer then had secondary color correction applied. This was done in cooperation with Robert Harris using as reference sections of each reel of a comtemporaneous 35mm IB technicolor print, the color timing of which was approved by Stanley Kubrick.

    This seems like an ideal way to go about it, since it avoids the potential for any modern revisionism by either the production company or even the filmmakers. It represents color timing decisions made by Stanley Kubrick circa 1960. Even if every print did not look like this in 1960, the ones personally approved by Kubrick would have.

    In short: Buy the Criterion. It's worth it. The Criterion audio track also represents the original wide stereo directional dialog soundtrack, whereas the Universal has the dialog pulled in somewhat, although not all the way to mono.

    Regards,
     
  19. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    As Crawdaddy notes, that's a big assumption on your part (I've seen this thing, along with all other features by this particular director, on the big screen a few times myself).
     
  20. Jeff Swearingen

    Jeff Swearingen Second Unit

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    I own both copies. I waited several years and finally decided to upgrade. Needless to say, I have retired my Universal copy permanently.

    If you want picture quality, you have to go Criterion. I disc swapped between both and the picture difference is phenomenal. I'm not gonna gripe about HiDef transfers or if something looks "as good as it should". The bottom line is this is the best version we have available of this movie in current formats. And that's what matters.

    The colors in the Universal edition seemed faded and dull to me, even before I watched the Criterion version. I just blamed it on film age then.

    Greg asked which version was better. He didn't ask whether we thought Universal should create a new transfer for a niche market when two other versions are already on the market.
     

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