706 Master of the House

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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TMDaines
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#26 Post by TMDaines » Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:56 pm

Oh, Criterion. Not you as well. A big disappointment.

I presume it has English intertitles on Hulu too, so we could have seen this coming?

While there is no shortage of silents needing Blu-ray releases, if you fancy it Masters of Cinema...

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Drucker
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#27 Post by Drucker » Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:17 pm

I'd imagine that BFI still have the rights, though?

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movielocke
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#28 Post by movielocke » Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:00 pm

I'm agnostic on the language of intertitles. In terms of intertitle art and style I like the originals subtitled. In terms of fidelity to the original experience of silent film as an international form I much prefer English intertitles. I like both options, as both are valid experiences, though subtitles on intertitles always strike me as a somewhat humorous--text on top of text.

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MichaelB
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#29 Post by MichaelB » Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:28 pm

If I can't actually read the language, I'm much less of a purist. Although I do prefer French, German and Italian intertitles in the original.

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Tommaso
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#30 Post by Tommaso » Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:14 pm

I certainly agree, Michael, but while I can't read any Russian, I definitely want Russian intertitles on any Eisenstein or Vertov film. The pure look of them makes me want to raise my fist for the revolution much more than any lame English translation...

Seriously though, I'm well aware of the argument that English intertitles would recreate the experience of an original international audience in the 20s, but I'd say that the audience of today is not the same as the original audience anymore. A film of this vintage is not least an exciting historical artifact, and many of us will be approaching it as such, which means it should be represented as closely to its original form as possible; a 'scholarly' edition, so to speak. Every translation is necessarily a derivation, and trust me, any attempt to translate the intertitles of a German Lubitsch silent into English is almost certainly bound to fail compared to the original. And there may be people, even among the intended US audience, who are able to read German, or in this case Danish, and I can't see why they should be deprived of getting the exact words that the filmmaker intended. This would also be an advantage over the situation of international audiences in the 20s, of course, who had no such chance.

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tenia
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#31 Post by tenia » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:09 am

I admit I'm not a purist at all when it comes to intertitles, mostly because the "text on text" (subs on intertitles) makes it sometimes quite fastidious to know what it means (in the end). Some intertitles don't have a lot of space to have the subs in the frame, and you end up in the same situation than white subs on a white background : something close to unreadable.

But in the end, if that was the best print available, well, I'll deal happily with it. I'm more annoyed with what seems to be noticeable combing on some caps from Gary.

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swo17
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#32 Post by swo17 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:12 am

That's just from the transfer being interlaced, and it shouldn't be evident during playback.

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MichaelB
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#33 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:51 am

Indeed - it's an unavoidable by-product of the limitations of the Blu-ray format and a non-standard framerate.

But I have plenty of interlaced silent BDs now, and not one of them has exhibited combing issues when playing back - to the point where I'm now not at all convinced that a faked 24fps version is necessarily the better option.

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Finch
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#34 Post by Finch » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:47 am

English intertitles are not a deal-breaker for me either. When I watch the Criterion of Vampyr, I always choose the English intertitles because the English subtitles on top of the original intertitles are always harder to read.

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jegharfangetmigenmyg
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#35 Post by jegharfangetmigenmyg » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:16 pm

Does anyone have insider knowledge as to whether this release points towards a blu-ray edition of Criterion's Dreyer box set? I know for a fact that that the Danish Film Institute did HD digital restorations of the films a couple of years back. Unfortunately these restorations were released in Denmark in a very fancy looking overprized deluxe box on - wait for it - SINGLE LAYER DVDs... This is one of the more bizarre recent releases. Maybe I should drop Casper Tybjerg a mail and ask if he's allowed to spill some info. He gave me good grades when I had him as a teacher at Copenhagen University. :)

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warren oates
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#36 Post by warren oates » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:34 pm

Um, yeah, please do email him and ask.

shaky
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#37 Post by shaky » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:56 pm

Jeghar,

Do you happen to have any update on Tybjerg? Would love to know if those sound Dreyers will be getting BD releases anytime soon.

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jegharfangetmigenmyg
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#38 Post by jegharfangetmigenmyg » Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:10 am

I wrote to him but he didn't reply. I'll drop him a note again and see if it helps.

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jegharfangetmigenmyg
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#39 Post by jegharfangetmigenmyg » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:13 am

Now he came back with a short answer which translates to: "If Criterion indeed have such plans, they have not told me about them".

:(

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TMDaines
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#40 Post by TMDaines » Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:23 pm


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Minkin
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#41 Post by Minkin » Sun Dec 21, 2014 10:54 pm

Here is Blu-Ray.com's review (better late than never!)

I'll pass this along as a friend of mine was able to contact Criterion and get the following response about the replaced English intertitles:
Mulvaney wrote:When we set out to present MASTER OF THE HOUSE, using the new restorations by Palladium, we were given two restored masters: an original Danish version and an original English version. Both of these masters were created in 1925, one for Danish-speaking audiences and one for English-speaking audiences. We were informed that Carl Theodor Dreyer approved both sets of intertitles.

As we began to consider these two options, a few things became clear. One, the Danish intertitles take up the majority of the screen. We immediately recalled our work on THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE, where, due to the smaller point size of the original intertitles, we were able to literally shift each intertitle to sit higher in the frame, in order to make room for our subtitles below. With MASTER OF THE HOUSE, this was not an option. Our subtitles would have overlapped with the Danish to such a degree that we would have created a frustrating and inadequate viewing experience. We may have been preserving the Danish intertitles, but they would have been mostly masked by our subtitles.

Another point of clarity came when we compared the first 20 minutes of both versions. Names were changed from "Ida and Viktor" to "John and Mary." We found that the English version was not only different from the Danish but the words chosen were directed at an audience of the 1920s, one that might not have appreciated the "heroic" domestic efforts of the woman of the house. And, in one case, the math problem that Frederik had to solve was actually dumbed down for the English speaking audience ("17x19" was changed to "8x9"!). So using the English version, although approved by Dreyer, also felt inadequate and unsatisfying for our 21st century audience.

We also learned that the intertitles of the newly restored Danish version are not original to the film (those original film elements burned in a fire back in the 1950s), but are a digital reconstruction created by Palladium.

Based on our findings, and knowing that the Danish version is available on home video, we decided to use the original Danish intertitles as the basis of our new restoration. We worked with longtime Dreyer scholar Casper Tybjerg as well as Signe Juul Hansen to create this excellent new translation, with many discussions about proper word choice and Danish intention. With the approval of Palladium, we also painstakingly created an English alphabet out of the original Danish typeface, matched the point size, punctuation, and layout, and brought back "Ida and Viktor and Karen and Frederik" to maintain the look and sentiment of Dreyer's original Danish film. (In fact, we've been faced with this sort of challenge before and have opted to recreate the titles in English. Please see, for instance, our edition of another Carl Th. Dreyer film, VAMPYR.)

Disc space must always be considered, too. In the case of MASTER OF THE HOUSE, we chose to include only one version of the 107-minute film. If we had included both versions, we would have been forced to seriously degrade the high resolution quality of this newly restored film.

As a loyal Criterion viewer, you likely know by now that we consider every film on a case by case basis. Our choice for MASTER OF THE HOUSE does not affect future foreign-language silent films. When we can find a way to preserve the original intertitles, we certainly will."

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TMDaines
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#42 Post by TMDaines » Mon Dec 22, 2014 5:26 am

I've read that twice, and I already read it several months ago when I was PM'd it, and am still not sure why they opted for English-language intertitles over Danish ones. Big intertitles that fill the screen is not a new problem and plenty of labels have come up with elegant solutions to ensure the eligibility of subtitles superimposed on them.

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Re: 706 Master of the House

#43 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:01 am

TMDaines wrote:Big intertitles that fill the screen is not a new problem and plenty of labels have come up with elegant solutions to ensure the eligibility of subtitles superimposed on them.
They may well be eligible but would they be legible?
Are you thinking of any specific examples because despite being in the same camp as yourself regarding original titles I think in this case there is a very reasonable explanation for their actions

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Mr Sausage
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#44 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:06 am

TMDaines wrote:I've read that twice, and I already read it several months ago when I was PM'd it, and am still not sure why they opted for English-language intertitles over Danish ones. Big intertitles that fill the screen is not a new problem and plenty of labels have come up with elegant solutions to ensure the eligibility of subtitles superimposed on them.
I thought it was clear:

A. There isn't one, but two director approved versions.

B. Both versions couldn't be included due to space limitations.

C. Neither version by itself was ideal for home viewing, the Danish having over-huge intertitles that are reconstructions and not originals, the English being dumbed down.

D. Therefore: Criterion created a compromise between the two versions, creating a version in a language Dreyer had approved, but maintaining the greater intelligence and the look of the Danish text (itself not original).

Unless you speak Danish, there is no reason why this would be a problem.

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TMDaines
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#45 Post by TMDaines » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:23 am

Mr Sausage wrote:B. Both versions cannot be included due to space limitations.
They could be by either employing seemless branching, using a smaller encode or by overlaying optional subtitles. It is absolutely possible to have both versions. Whether it is worth of the effort or the trade off to the individual is another kettle of fish entirely.
Mr Sausage wrote:C. Neither version by itself was ideal for home viewing, the Danish having over-huge intertitles that are reconstructions and not originals, the English being dumbed down.
The English intertitles are reconstructions and not originals by their very nature and the process that Criterion talked about above. How is this possibly an argument in favour of Criterion's method?
Mr Sausage wrote:D. Therefore: Criterion created a compromise between the two versions, creating a version in a language Dreyer had approved, but maintaining the greater intelligence and the look of the Danish text (itself not original).
"A language Dryer had approved," - what does this even mean? He approved a set of English intertitles that Criterion have explicitly stated that they chose not to use because they "felt [that they were] inadequate and unsatisfying for our 21st century audience." The only intertitles now are Casper Tybjerg and Signe Juul Hansen's.
Mr Sausage wrote:Unless you speak Danish, there is no why this would be a problem.
This is incorrect, as a number of us are at pains to stress. A huge part of having original-language intertitles is for the flavour. Language and culture are inextricably tied. Try watching Potemkin without that cyrillic script. It simply is not the same.

You could make the same argument about dubbing vs subtitles with Ordet or Gertrud, but I doubt creating a fresh English dub, "worked with longtime Dreyer scholar Casper Tybjerg as well as Signe Juul Hansen to create this excellent new translation, with many discussions about proper word choice and Danish intention", would go down very well. If you don't speak Danish, what would be the problem?

I've translated several silent films that previously had no existing English subtitles and shared my work online, but the idea that I would consider my translation to be any replacement for the original, no matter how studiously and carefully I have selected my words, is outlandish. It's just a translation for non-speakers, that's all.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#46 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:44 am

TMDaines wrote:They could be by either employing seemless branching, using a smaller encode or by overlaying optional subtitles. It is absolutely possible to have both versions. Whether it is worth of the effort or the trade off to the individual is another kettle of fish entirely.
As Criterion decided neither version was good on their own (one too dumb, one with overlapping inter- and subtitles), branching wouldn't actually solve the issue.
TMDaines wrote:The English intertitles are reconstructions and not originals by their very nature and the process that Criterion talked about above. How is this possibly an argument in favour of Criterion's method?
How is it not? A reconstruction is being replaced with a reconstruction. This is quite different from originals being replaced with a reconstruction.
TMDaines wrote:"A language Dryer had approved," - what does this even mean?
It means Dreyer had approved English intertitles for the film and even approved changing the intertitles based on the needs of an English audience. Obviously Dreyer was flexible based on audience and Criterion took that flexibility as an added reason to modify things for a current English audience that no longer needs things (if it ever did) dumbed down. Dreyer's initial meaning is maintained, but communicated to the English audience he'd always wanted to court.
TMDaines wrote:This is incorrect, as a number of us are at pains to stress. A huge part of having original-language intertitles is for the flavour. Language and culture are inextricably tied. Try watching Potemkin without that cyrillic script. It simply is not the same.
English is the original language for the film, along with Danish. So your point is moot. The further point about Potemkin and cyrillic is a category mistake, and a telling one. It's also moot.

Basically the only argument you could use is the further flavour of exoticism, but this would be against Dreyer's explicit intentions since he sought to minimize that for an English audience.

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Drucker
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#47 Post by Drucker » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:48 am

I just read My Only Great Passion, and in it, the authors reveal that Dreyer was even okay with letting local (domestic) editors have their hand at cutting his films (for their domestic audience). It's talked about early on and I'll try to find the quote later.

Just food for thought.

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TMDaines
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#48 Post by TMDaines » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:26 am

You are a master of rhetoric, Mr Sausage, I'll give you that. I concede that I'm certainly outgunned here when it comes to debating and conveying my opinion so eloquently.
Mr Sausage wrote:As Criterion decided neither version was good on their own (one too dumb, one with overlapping inter- and subtitles, branching wouldn't actually solve issue.
Overlapping intertitles and subtitles may be an issue for Criterion, but for many of us, including myself, it is the lesser of two evils and is simply part and parcel of watching silent (and, indeed, foreign) films. Some overlap or masking is a small price to pay to main the flavour and original text of the film.
Mr Sausage wrote:English is the original language for the film, along with Danish.
Where is the evidence of this? A director-approved alternative version is not necessarily the same as it being the original. It can often be the lesser of two evils if distributors will not play your work otherwise.

If what you are saying is the case however, why are Criterion not providing us with a definitive release of the film? Hopefully the BFI will do. I, personally, would see far greater value in having both:

A) Danish with optional subtitles
B) Original English language version (so one can see how the material was adapted for the time)

Rather than Criterion's fence-sitting effort.
Drucker wrote:I just read My Only Great Passion, and in it, the authors reveal that Dreyer was even okay with letting local (domestic) editors have their hand at cutting his films (for their domestic audience). It's talked about early on and I'll try to find the quote later.
Directors, producers, artists, auteurs, distributors will often produce work in the knowledge that it may have to travel in a heavily modified form. Being principled or stubborn won't get you anywhere. Artists need/want to make a living too. How many auteurs are renowned for not allowing their work to be distributed unless it will be in one exact form?
Last edited by TMDaines on Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Tommaso
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Re: 706 Master of the House

#49 Post by Tommaso » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:31 am

Mr Sausage wrote:As Criterion decided neither version was good on their own (one too dumb, one with overlapping inter- and subtitles), branching wouldn't actually solve the issue.
Of course they shouldn't have branched the Danish and the old English titles, but the Danish titles and their new translation of it (or all three versions, if this is technically possible). And if they considered the overlapping of inter-and subtitles as a major problem, making the subs yellow would have easily solved it. And I say that as someone who positively hates yellow subs.

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Re: 706 Master of the House

#50 Post by MichaelB » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:40 am

Seamless branching is of course technically possible, but it would be an authoring, encoding and QC nightmare on a project like this - and would unavoidably whack up production costs.

I've had two recent projects where seamless branching was considered - Immoral Tales and Day of Anger. The first ended up being seamlessly branched because the job could hardly have been more straightforward (basically, a version with four stories and a version with five). But when I analysed the two cuts of Day of Anger, I found that each contained unique material and that there were something like 25 discrepancies between the two, so we decided that it simply wasn't worth the hassle. And I imagine seamlessly-branched intertitles would be more complicated still, at least in terms of the sheer number of branches that would need programming.

(I genuinely don't know the answer to this, so am bracing myself for egg to end up all over my face if it turns out to be "loads" - but how many silent film BDs are out there which offer a seamlessly-branched dual-language intertitle option?)
Tommaso wrote:And if they considered the overlapping of inter-and subtitles as a major problem, making the subs yellow would have easily solved it. And I say that as someone who positively hates yellow subs.
Some producers - very much including me - refuse to even so much as countenance yellow subs, especially on a black and white film. On Immoral Tales, we had a similar problem with regard to screen-filling white-on-black intertitles, which we resolved after much trial and error by "ghostboxing" - creating a translucent grey box behind the subtitle so that it could clearly be read, while the original text also remained visible.

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