422 The Last Emperor

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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Cronenfly
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#126 Post by Cronenfly » Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:43 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:
Lino wrote:Never mind the AR - it's the colors I have a problem with now. It looks so cold and drab. .
Thats the first thing I thought, even above the 2.0ism. The film loses it's mythical pallette and turns into Crime Drama Colorville, cold and grey.
Did the film have the "mythical" green-yellow bias theatrically? The cold/grey colors of the Criterion do little for me; is this a case of Criterion/Storaro revisionism (as it would seem), or did the movie actually look so drab in the theatres? Is this another case, like the Coppola Dracula SE transfer, where the film looked one way theatrically and on the Superbit DVD and then another "correct" way on the SE?

And I agree with you, Schreck: Criterion's honoring Storaro's insanity (or, as they spin it in their blog, genius) without offering up a version of the film that's reflective of the original work is unforgivable. I was hoping that, as a consolation, the television version would be untampered with, but, alas, not. It could be worse; at least there's a truer transfer in R2, unlike Apocalypse Now, which remains fucked everywhere on DVD (to my knowledge).
Last edited by Cronenfly on Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:57 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Dylan
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#127 Post by Dylan » Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:46 pm

Jean-Luc Garbo wrote:I haven't seen this film, but I am an O'Toole fan. How big is his part in it?
It's a supporting role, but he's certainly excellent and it's an important part of the story. And FYI, his screen time is doubled for the television version, so if O'Toole is your main reason for seeing The Last Emperor then that's probably the version to pursue.

Regarding the new transfer, I'm less than impressed with the screencaps as well. The R2 is far more colorful and the framing far more pleasing and less claustrophobic. The 2:1 works beautifully (in my opinion) for Apocalypse Now and all of Storaro's later work, but The Last Emperor should've been left at 2.35:1. And I do say that as (quite possibly) one of Storaro's most devoted fans.

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domino harvey
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#128 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:52 pm

I'm surprised Storaro didn't try to trim the top and bottom of the image for Reds to achieve his 2:1 there as well-- although maybe he did and Beatty told him to go to hell :D

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Cronenfly
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#129 Post by Cronenfly » Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:54 pm

domino harvey wrote:I'm surprised Storaro didn't try to trim the top and bottom of the image for Reds to achieve his 2:1 there as well-- although maybe he did and Beatty told him to go to hell :D
Thank god he only believes in doing it to the films he shot in 2.35:1...for now.

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denti alligator
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#130 Post by denti alligator » Sat Feb 09, 2008 7:24 pm

Let's keep in mind that the R2 is the odd-ball here in terms of color. Sure, the Criterion is still a little more grey-ish, but the reds and yellows are about the same as the old R1. The R2, on the other hand, has a totally different color palate. Which is more accurate? I hate to say it, but with Bertolucci and Storaro involved, wouldn't you think the Criterion is (or were they involved in the R2, also?).

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Cronenfly
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#131 Post by Cronenfly » Sat Feb 09, 2008 7:41 pm

denti alligator wrote:Let's keep in mind that the R2 is the odd-ball here in terms of color. Sure, the Criterion is still a little more grey-ish, but the reds and yellows are about the same as the old R1. The R2, on the other hand, has a totally different color palate. Which is more accurate? I hate to say it, but with Bertolucci and Storaro involved, wouldn't you think the Criterion is (or were they involved in the R2, also?).
Once again: does anyone know/remember the colors from the original theatrical prints? The R2 may be the odd-ball color-wise, but Storaro has proven just as free with regards to colors as he is with aspect ratios (case in point: Apocalypse Now, which exemplifies both well) when it comes to DVD transfers (that said, I don't remember anyone complaining about the colors on The Conformist/1900 being unduely manipulated). And given Criterion's seeming reverence for Storaro in the transfer process, I doubt that they would've stood in his way with regards to color if they didn't object to his AR change.

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domino harvey
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#132 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 09, 2008 7:42 pm

denti alligator wrote:Let's keep in mind that the R2 is the odd-ball here in terms of color. Sure, the Criterion is still a little more grey-ish, but the reds and yellows are about the same as the old R1. The R2, on the other hand, has a totally different color palate. Which is more accurate? I hate to say it, but with Bertolucci and Storaro involved, wouldn't you think the Criterion is (or were they involved in the R2, also?).
Those two have very little credibility left for this release, I'm not sure that's the best argument to make in favor of Criterion's color scheme

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Cronenfly
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#133 Post by Cronenfly » Sat Feb 09, 2008 7:51 pm

domino harvey wrote:
denti alligator wrote:Let's keep in mind that the R2 is the odd-ball here in terms of color. Sure, the Criterion is still a little more grey-ish, but the reds and yellows are about the same as the old R1. The R2, on the other hand, has a totally different color palate. Which is more accurate? I hate to say it, but with Bertolucci and Storaro involved, wouldn't you think the Criterion is (or were they involved in the R2, also?).
Those two have very little credibility left for this release, I'm not sure that's the best argument to make in favor of Criterion's color scheme
It seems like Bertolucci and Criterion are just kowtowing to Storaro, which makes them no less culpable, I guess, but the blame lies primarily with Storaro. His amazing ability to brainwash once great directors like Bertolucci and Coppola into conforming to his vision (not to mention DVD producers of the caliber of Criterion) is truly awe-inspiring. I wonder if any of us mere mortals could avoid crumpling to the ground in his presence...
Last edited by Cronenfly on Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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domino harvey
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Click image!

#134 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 09, 2008 8:39 pm

Image

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Cronenfly
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#135 Post by Cronenfly » Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:31 pm

=D>

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kinjitsu
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Uffa!

#136 Post by kinjitsu » Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:35 pm

Is that image 2.00:1 Storaro approved?

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domino harvey
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Re: Uffa!

#137 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:39 pm

kinjitsu wrote:Is that image 2.00:1 Storaro approved?
I emailed it to him and just received this attachment of the corrected Univisium image:

Image

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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#138 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:50 pm

domino harvey wrote:Image
Ha ha ha - post of the year, sir!

Does anyone know what Bertolucci has to say about this? I can't believe that anyone in his right mind would let 2.35 get cropped. It's his movie for one thing.

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Cronenfly
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#139 Post by Cronenfly » Sat Feb 09, 2008 10:00 pm

Jeff's link to the Filmmaker Magazine article on the second page of this thread seems to indicate that Bertolucci is in agreement with Storaro on the 2.00:1 (if Storaro's word is to be trusted).

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kinjitsu
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#140 Post by kinjitsu » Sat Feb 09, 2008 10:16 pm

Even if you lose something, you gain the most important things.

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HerrSchreck
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#141 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Feb 09, 2008 11:41 pm

Yeah, you lose your artistic integrity and image of artistic confidence/decisiveness, but you make money from yet another "authoritative" dvd release of a old previously released movie.

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david hare
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#142 Post by david hare » Sun Feb 10, 2008 1:10 am

My two cents: I hate the new color tonality even more than the new ratio.

I saw this in Sydney in opening week theatrically - not only was the color far more "glowing" like the R2/R4 release but they screened it here in a 70mm print!

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Dylan
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#143 Post by Dylan » Sun Feb 10, 2008 5:29 am

but they screened it here in a 70mm print!
Am I mistaken or aren't most (all?) 70mm prints of 2.35:1 films cropped to 2.00:1?

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david hare
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#144 Post by david hare » Sun Feb 10, 2008 5:55 am

Dunno!

It's possible!!

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Jeff
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#145 Post by Jeff » Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:13 am

Dylan wrote:Am I mistaken or aren't most (all?) 70mm prints of 2.35:1 films cropped to 2.00:1?
2.20:1

kekid
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#146 Post by kekid » Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:58 pm

Storaro seems to be unanimously condemned here for his artistic decision on DVD versions of this (and perhaps other) films. It is reasonanble to assume that he would want these films to be seen in best possible form by the DVD audience, therefore his decisions represent his honest judgment. Why would a creator of these magnificent images make (what a majority of members on this forum consider) poor decisions on his own creations? I would like to see if someone can suggest the thought process that might have led him to these decisions. (Filling the TV screen seems to be an unlikely, though possible, explanation). To form a considered view on the issue we need to understand the creator's rationale.

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david hare
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#147 Post by david hare » Sun Feb 10, 2008 7:56 pm

Look we can all moan and groan but in the end his voice is at least one of some authority. And he is just as repsonsible for the look of his films as either Bertolucci or Coppola. I frankly like the Apoc Now Redux very much, especially given he went to the trouble of having it printed in IB Technicolor during the very brief period that Techni ran its short lived Hollywood IB facility (closed down two years ago.)

I personally don't like the look of the Emperor color at all - it seems regressively faux "natural' with a green/gray bias - certainly a shock when compared to something as absolutely astonishingly beautiful as the HD 2007 revisitation of color timing for Blade Runner (which was done in the absence of original DP Jordan Cronenweth - the HD boxset is one killer of a collection.)

But to repeat Storaro has some authority in this whether we like it or not. Which is more than you can say for various managers at fucking WarnersHV or UniversalHV who are making judgment calls out of left field on releasing VERY early 50s titles in a widescreen formats they were NEVER designed for. THIS is real revisionism.

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HerrSchreck
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#148 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Feb 10, 2008 8:55 pm

The problem is there is no authoritative arbiter for right or wrong or "looks better" or "looks worse" on dvd screens. A film or piece of art represents a time capsule on the state of the artist(s) at the time the film was made-- not At Time of DVD Release. If a cinematographer starts dropping acid or shooting dope and develops strange new ideas about "the eye" and "spacial perfection vis a tv screen" it sounds like he's forgotten the state of his mind when making a film in question and is focused more on his role as Cinematographic Theorist For The Ages... and should be whipped away from the telecine room where a film made long before the hatchling Special Theory first kicked it's way out the retarded little egg.

How can a museum hold a retrospective on the development-- stylistic and technical-- of a painter if the fucking guy wants to stagger around the MoMA with a corrective paintbrush bringing each painting, some decades old, up to his present state? What good does this do? What happens in the future if his ideas change? Let him in again and mess with them? That's bullshit in my view, and Criterion should be a little embarassed about this sort of Hobnobbing Revisionism which has been allowed ONLY because of Storaros present state of prestige.

This is why Sam Fuller says "you have to think your film out when you have the chance-- which is when you make it... you can't say after a bad premiere 'well I really meant to to THIS but I couldnt get it to work right', you'll look like a schmuck."

Indulgence of Artistic Creampuffs if you ask me. And this is coming from me who always considered Storaro the true heir of John Alton. I worship this man's work.

The most important thing to know how to do in the visual arts is to say "this work is finished"... many a painter ruins works by endless revision and correction and suck the power of the Moment right out of the work. In my view this whole "Director Approved" issue, responsible for so many mindblowingly wonderful CC releases, puts them in a vulnerable position every here and there with dilletantes who don't know how to leave their past alone. In my view-- only mine-- someone like Storaro is unfortunately at this time the least authoritative or weight-carrying soul on the block when it comes to establishing the state of this picture upon its release. He should be bound and gagged and shot off of Solaris until telecine is over. Then they can reel the ship back in. He cannot contend with the power, flaws and all, of his youthful self, vs his present Professorial Role.

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Gregory
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#149 Post by Gregory » Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:25 pm

Then again many major artists seem to think of their works as in-progress until they die, and nothing any of us can say or do will change this. I don't have a problem with such tinkering in theory (it's up for debate how often this kind of thing yields worthwhile results) as long as the version with which the artist was originally satisfied remains equally available. The point at which I have a problem with what Storaro is doing is when he prevents or makes it difficult for Criterion or whomever to release the reference version. It's especially disappointing in this case, considering that Criterion has with several of their releases included as an alternate version something the filmmaker actually hated from day one.

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HerrSchreck
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#150 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:49 pm

Gregory wrote:Then again many major artists seem to think of their works as in-progress until they die, and nothing any of us can say or do will change this.
That's pretty self evident from the fact that we were having this discussion. But appreciate the stern yellow highlighter marker.

The problem is that when a film is done, it represents the work of more than one person, not just one. If a painter wants to go ahead and turn a vibrant painting all his own into mush- fine. But a film is a sum of many parts. If an actor feels as though they could go back and shoot a retake a performance which was not "perfect" why can't they go back and make adjustments to their performance? Why is Storaro being indulged?

Because he's Storaro, plain and simple. I just don't think CC had the cojones to stand up to him. The film now looks the worst I've ever seen it.

Artists who don't know when to call their works finished, and see them as neverending projects (that's what the next project is for, to follow the development of your ideas) usually suck toilet. Storaro is a rare example of a genuis tippling over into knucklehead richmanville. Not to say he still doesn't posess some of the genuis he once had.

Give me Victor Erice "Once I finish my movie it no longer belongs to me, it belongs to the people" any day. Or Fuller. This sort of of self-conscious handwringing... leaving the gut for the terrain of the head... is not my flavor of gelato.

... there's also the issue of who the film belongs to. If a painter has sold his canvasses to someone (or the museum) it no longer belongs to him. If Storaro doesn't own the rights to the film why is he given carte blanche for modification? If a painter owns all his own paintings (the way zappa owned all his masters, and tried-- once, to furious howls which forced him to reverse him self-- to add new bass & drums to we're only in it for the money) he can wheedle till the cows come home.

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