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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:08 am 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
Still wondering what in hell happened to that new restoration of Bondarchuk's War & Peace that Kino had promised for release by Xmas 2008... owing to their deal w RusCiCo I assumed it was coming from them, though I could be wrong.


Good question. There's a remastered Russian-only set from Krupnyi Plan of more recent vintage, but I don't know whether it's the same transfer that Ruscico used. It's possible that it is a newer transfer and it was what Kino wanted to use, though that is purely speculation on my part.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:11 am 
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Do you have any idea what the year of the disc-- or even more specifically the transfer on the disc-- of the Krupnyi Plan was, Jim?


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:32 am 
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I have _heard_ that Krupnyi Plan also has access to better materials (and does better transfers) than Ruscico. The problem is that Krupnyi Plan only has Russian (or former Soviet Union) distribution rights -- and Ruscico has the rest of the world (and all the translation rights). Thus, using KP's resources for a Western-released DVD would still require agreement by (and presumably payment to) Ruscico. I may have misunderstood this situation -- but if I am right, it could explain why things don't seem to move very quickly.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:15 pm 
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I'm just wondering out loud the vintage of the telecine that comprises the Krupnyi Plan content... as I was remembering pretty clearly the quarterly newsletter that Kino sent around at the end of 2007 which promised a brand new transfer / edition of the film that was (at the time of the newsletter going to press) supposed to be ready by "end-of-2008". So my guess is if the KP disc came from source materials produced earlier than 1st half of 2008 then it's probably not the source Kino was looking at for their proposed edition.

In lieu, I'd be interested in it nonetheless. Imagine a beautiful, CC TheLeopard/Paramount Apocalypse Now- type 70mm telecine of the film from restored preservation materials?


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:23 pm 
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I may misremember this, but wasn't the reason that some of the Russian releases (and their Western clones) of 70mm films look so bad that the Russians don't have any technical facilities to do transfers from 70mm materials anymore, and thus have to resort to 35mm reductions? The most blatant example is "Dersu", of course, but it also goes for Loteanu's "Gypsies are found near heaven", which has similar 'colour pulsing' issues (though not as bad as "Dersu"). So if this is correct, there's little hope of a CC style telecine sadly.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 4:40 pm 
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I'm not sure about the transfer capabilities at Mosfilm (whether they can handle 70mm), but I recall that the quality of Soviet film stock is a big issue. If I remember correctly, in the interview on the Ruscico disc Karen Shakhnazarov mentions that the camera negative for War and Peace was in terrible condition, that it even had insect debris on it. It would not surprise me at all if the pulsing was inherent to the original film elements.

However, I did pick up the unsubtitled Krupnyi Plan disc of The Mirror out of curiosity and it looks markedly better than either the old Kino disc or the Ruscico version. The other discs that I have in their "restored" line look uniformly excellent. So perhaps there is cause for hope regarding War and Peace in the future.

EDIT: Here's a description of the telecine equipment Mosfilm has at its disposal.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 4:30 pm 
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RUSCICO presents on DVD the new collection "ACADEMIA"


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:51 pm 

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L.A. wrote:


As far as I can judge from the poster on the Russian version of the company's site the DVDs will have:

-spine numbers
-restored images
-originl scores (for silents)
-scholar commentaries (audio?)
-unique (?) multimedia menus.

More to come: Protasanov, Pudovkin, Donskoi and Vertov !!!

By the way films from Donskoi's Gorky trilogy now available separately. Extras are minimal: one featurette on Gorky himself and (looks like the same on all three DVDs!) featurette on Donskoi and his filmography...


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 1:48 pm 
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It looks as if RUSCICO is also getting into film distribution--on the Russian site they've just posted announcements for two new films.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2009 6:44 am 
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If anyone owns the RUSCICO disc of Khozhdenie za tri morya / Journey Beyond Three Seas (1957), what is the aspect ratio of this? According to IMDb it's 2.35:1 but RUSCICO's sites claim it's 4:3.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2009 11:32 am 
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This release is 2.35:1


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:28 pm 
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L.A. wrote:

Anyone bought any of the 'Academia' titles?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:16 pm 
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I couldn't find any indication on their website that the "Academia" collection is available for sale yet. They're already offering regular releases of Potemkin and October, but they don't appear to be part of the series. (I may be wrong on this.) I'm also looking forward to see what they're doing with this series.

[Edit: comments clarified.]


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:22 pm 
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I'm supposed to be covering the Academia releases for Sight & Sound, and I got the very strong impression that they were very very keen indeed on this happening - but I haven't had anything in the post yet.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:55 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
I'm supposed to be covering the Academia releases for Sight & Sound, and I got the very strong impression that they were very very keen indeed on this happening - but I haven't had anything in the post yet.


Glad to hear that they are at least interested in getting reviews out on these titles. Please let us all know when the reviews are published.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:00 pm 
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These Academia releases look interesting. Here's a link to the Hyperkino website: http://hyperkino.net/hyperkino/What-is-HYPERKINO. There are a few articles explaining the scholarly annotation format of the special features. Interestingly, Hyperkino was developed in part by Nikolai Izvolov, who was interviewed in and contributed to Chris Marker's Le tombeau d'Alexandre.


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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 12:44 pm 
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The first installment of ACADEMIA titles now available for purchase:

Proekt inzhenera Prayta / Engineer Prite's Project (1918)
Stachka / Strike (1925)
Oktyabr / October (1927)
Veliky uteshitel / The Great Consoler (1933)


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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 3:28 pm 
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Sayat Nova / The Colour of Pomegranates (1968)


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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 6:19 pm 
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This will almost certainly be the Sergei Yutkevich cut, but hopefully that means a print at least as good as the one on the Japanese DVD with English subtitles.


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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 12:30 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
This will almost certainly be the Sergei Yutkevich cut, but hopefully that means a print at least as good as the one on the Japanese DVD with English subtitles.


Uh, not so fast... I picked up an unsubtitled RUSCICO DVD as part of a box set of Armenian films, and while it was a "new" transfer of the Yutkevich cut and had the exact same special features advertised here, the quality was appalling. Because of some missing footage, the film went radically out of sync early on for most of its duration. I've never seen anything like it!

The color wasn't so hot either--the transfer was heavily manipulated and had an overly digital, posterlike quality. I would avoid any RUSCICO version of The Color of Pomegranates until you get direct confirmation that these problems were fixed. It was really shocking, not at all on the level of their other Paradjanov titles.

The other Armenian films in the box set looked fine, by the way. (I'm a big fan of Henrik Malyan's We Are Our Mountains (1969), which is why I bought the set.)

I can't comment on the new Japanese DVD with content supplied by RUSCICO. The older, now out-of-print Japanese transfer of the Yutkevich cut (with Japanese subtitles only) is slightly pink and a couple shots are too dark, but it's still the best looking version I've seen so far.

Obviously the gods think that The Color of Pomegranates wasn't treated badly enough during Paradjanov's lifetime, so they're making it languish in Purgatory a little longer.


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PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 3:29 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
I'm supposed to be covering the Academia releases for Sight & Sound, and I got the very strong impression that they were very very keen indeed on this happening - but I haven't had anything in the post yet.


Latest update is that a package of the first batch of Academia titles was apparently sent last week - so hopefully delivery will be any day now.


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 6:12 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
MichaelB wrote:
I'm supposed to be covering the Academia releases for Sight & Sound, and I got the very strong impression that they were very very keen indeed on this happening - but I haven't had anything in the post yet.


Latest update is that a package of the first batch of Academia titles was apparently sent last week - so hopefully delivery will be any day now.


That's great news. I ordered all the Academia titles for my library, but it will take a little time for them to get cataloged. I think your reviews will will be well-placed to address both the quality of the discs and the educational value of the Hyperkino format and any supplements.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:43 am 
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OK, I've finally got round to exploring an Academia DVD in depth - Lev Kuleshov's Engineer Prite's Project (1918), the oldest of the initial batch of titles.

Although no masterpiece, the film itself is a fascinating slice of history - made when Kuleshov was just eighteen, it's one of the first films funded by the recently victorious Bolsheviks (which accounts for the aggressively anti-capitalist message, vaguely reminiscent of The Man in the White Suit in its tale of an engineer who devises a method of extracting electricity from peat, only to find himself undermined by American oil magnates seeking to protect their share price), but it also marks a clear link between the pre-revolutionary work of Yevgeny Bauer (Kuleshov's former boss) and what would eventually become Soviet montage (many of whose underlying theories would later be devised by Kuleshov). The montage here is far less flamboyant than what was to come, but there are already considerably more shots than would be the case with an equivalent American or earlier Russian film.

Like all the Academia releases, this is presented as a two-disc set, with one disc presenting an unadulterated version of the main feature (original Russian soundtrack/intertitles, with optional subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch or Portuguese), and the other offering the same transfer of the feature but with 'Hyperkino' contextual backup available in Russian or English.

In practice, this means that an orange number will occasionally pop up on the screen, indicating that contextual information is available - pressing 'enter' on your remote lets you jump to the relevant screen, which offers a mini-essay analysing or contextualising that particular part of the film (taking up multiple pages if necessary), complete with further links to stills, facsimile documents and even video clips - in this particular case, from the Yevgeny Bauer films on which Kuleshov originally cut his filmmaking teeth, and whose influence can clearly be seen. Annoyingly, the facsimile texts in Russian (original reviews, scripts, etc.) generally aren't translated, though the entire original treatment is presented in English.

With 27 contextual sections servicing a film running just 30 minutes, you can probably already appreciate that there's a fair bit of material to explore - it runs the gamut from production anecdotes through reception and its subsequent archival life, together with a fair bit of analysis, including clips from the actual film with added onscreen graphics to highlight key details. There's also a themed index of subjects in the style of one of Criterion's commentary indexes - for instance, 'Russian cinema of 1918', 'The film's plot and libretto', '"Super American drama"', 'First formula of montage', and so on.

As for the print and transfer, it's in pretty good condition for a 1918 film, and has clearly undergone a fair bit of restoration - purists may baulk at the fact that the intertitles are so obviously electronically-created, but the layout and typesetting seem appropriate to the period. English subtitles have been intelligently positioned so as not to get in the way of the main text. The music is piano, and recorded live - it's nothing outstanding, but it does a perfectly adequate accompanying job.

Other extras include an alternative edit by V.Khanzhonkova (assembled without reference to the original treatment, so it's often quite different), plus Semyon Raitburt's hour-long 1969 documentary on Kuleshov - this was made just before the latter's death, so was one of the last long interviews he ever gave. It's a good, solid career run-through, with lots of excerpts from Kuleshov's other films.

Surprisingly, given the academic nature of the project, there are no printed supplements whatsoever - which is a shame, as I think there's a strong case for presenting the Hyperkino text as an MoC-style booklet for subsequent reference.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:06 am 
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Is it PAL or NTSC?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:11 am 
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My copy is PAL - and I think these are PAL-only, if I interpret Ruscico's website correctly.

It's not a huge loss, though, as their NTSC conversions were notoriously poor quality.


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