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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:06 am 
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I received this release this weekend, and put it on immediately. I think it's safe to say that this is THE MoC release of the year. The restoration looks magnificent, and I was pretty excited to be able to read the inter-titles in Dreyer's native language. I watched it at 24fps with the Connors score, and while I enjoyed the film on its own at that pace, I was of two minds when it came to the music. At times it seems to dominate and overshadow the film, to some of the scenes detriment. Though, at other times, it perfectly accompanies the pictures. But I must admit that I was playing Voices of Light in my mind while watching it, for me it is the perfect score for the film.
I sampled the score for the 20fps and from what little I heard, I was not a huge fan. It seemed to be very repetitious and jarring, but, again, I did not watch the whole thing. I do prefer the film in 20fps, so I will revisit it soon with japanese score.
All in all, I'm thrilled that one of my favorite, if not my favorite, film has received such a great release. It is a royal treatment by MoC, for sure.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:28 am 
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The Deluxe website has a lengthy news item on the restoration, including an interview with James White.

...and The Wire magazine has just posted an exclusive clip from the 24fps version with the Loren Connors soundtrack.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:23 am 
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Another piece on the restoration, this time courtesy of MovieMail...

...and another review, courtesy of Blueprint.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:21 am 
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Blu-Ray.com Review.

Looks like Svet took off a point for the damage that does remain, which I guess everyone has a different tolerance level for.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:33 am 
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It's fair to say that this is a superb transfer of an 84-year-old print, with all that that implies.

Oh, and this is James White's response to the review: he mostly agrees with it, but...

Quote:
I have to take issue with the idea that we at any point "toned down" the grain, which we most assuredly did not do. What Dr Svet may be seeing, as is detailed in the booklet, are those occasional sections of the film where details are diminished by issues in the source material, most likely due to warping, shrinkage, etc.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:26 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:48 am
It's a shame that these reviewers operate largely from an ignorance of the characteristics of film prints and stocks when they make these damaging accusations of DNR. If they really consulted the detail liner notes with this film, and did a cursory study of the film's history, they would understand why this film looks the way it does. These reviewers seem to assume that the Oslo print represents a modern film workflow, deriving from a dupe neg of a master interpos, from the OCN, and the transfer being from the preservation negative, is therefore has four generations worth of accumulated grain. They expect to see the grain inherent in so many silent films that survive today, because they are copies of copies of copies.

But of course Joan of Arc is special, in that it is only two generations "old," being sourced from a preservation negative, struck from a print struck directly from the OCN (and quite possibly the FIRST print struck from that neg). The Oslo print is both a theatrical print, and a sort of master interpositive.

These reviewers do not understand, and it is a shame that they make undeserved accusations.

I work in the industry as a filmmaker, and I've studied film preservation. And Joan of Arc is my favorite film, the one I have seen more than any other. And the blu-ray that I have seen from MoC is uniformly excellent.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:21 pm 
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James White discusses his work as a restoration supervisor in this AV Forums podcast (which starts about 30 mins in) - he mostly talks about Zombie Flesh Eaters, but does bring up The Passion of Joan of Arc quite a bit, and a lot of the technical points he makes apply to restorations in general.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:45 pm 
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Brianruns10 wrote:
It's a shame that these reviewers operate largely from an ignorance of the characteristics of film prints and stocks when they make these damaging accusations of DNR. If they really consulted the detail liner notes with this film, and did a cursory study of the film's history, they would understand why this film looks the way it does. These reviewers seem to assume that the Oslo print represents a modern film workflow, deriving from a dupe neg of a master interpos, from the OCN, and the transfer being from the preservation negative, is therefore has four generations worth of accumulated grain. They expect to see the grain inherent in so many silent films that survive today, because they are copies of copies of copies.


I beg to differ. I actually think that it is a shame that since the statement does not explicitly agree with what is printed in the booklet you are convinced that ignorance had something to do with it.

From what I am seeing on this restoration it appears that different decisions were made to address different issues and leave others to preserve the integrity of the image. That's fine. I am not as naive to believe what you have written above.

However, it is my opinion that while removing damage marks/debris some grain was indeed toned down. This isn't intentional blanket "DNR" application, as you speculate above the review suggests it is. For this very same reason - concern that serious damage actually could be done - other more serious vertical lines for example were left in. So, contrary to what you have written, there is nothing "damaging" about the observation in the review. Quite the contrary. All in all, I think that it is a very good presentation of the film, but it is also pretty clear to me that it has some inconsistencies. You, of course, are free to disagree whether there is or isn't any room for additional improvement.

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:01 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:48 pm
I suppose film restorators are these days very afraid to edit the picture, be it DNR or levels or contrast or anything. They just put whatever comes out of scanner straight to disc. In photography I see this a lot where people mention "no editing done", as it would be some kind of crime to make the image look as good as possible?

That is the case with this new MoC bluray release. Compared to even earlier DVD releases the image looks... meh. Personally I'd make the image look something like these examples.

Image

Image

Image


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:10 pm 
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Yeah they should just hit the update button so all films no matter what meet our 2012 standards for image quality. You should post your resume, too.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:28 pm 
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Ihmemies wrote:
That is the case with this new MoC bluray release. Compared to even earlier DVD releases the image looks... meh.


Have you actually seen the transfer in motion? I'm guessing not.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:34 pm 
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Ihmemies wrote:
Personally I'd make the image look something like these examples.

Image

Image

Image
You'd like them to look really small? Is that so you can watch it on an old cell phone?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:36 pm 
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Blu-ray.com wrote:
Extras: 3 (out of 5)

How many more versions of the film and/or pages in the book would it have taken to bump this up to a 4?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:47 pm 
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med wrote:
Ihmemies wrote:
Image

Image

Image
You'd like them to look really small? Is that so you can watch it on an old cell phone?
Obviously this would be a blu-ray made for ants.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:48 pm 
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swo17 wrote:
How many more versions of the film and/or pages in the book would it have taken to bump this up to a 4?

A gag reel would have been nice.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:19 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:09 am
To be fair, the Blu-Ray.com review is a decidedly favorable one. In fact he's one of the few who LOVES the new 24fps score, without grumbling about Voices of Light. There is one sentence regarding the grain that does take a leap of faith, and has already been pointed out, and should probably be restated into something less authoritative.

Quote:
Grain has been retained, but during the restoration of the film some of it has also been toned down


As far as extras, I would say that this is certainly missing the 40 hours of behind the scenes, multiple commentaries, etc present on something like a Prometheus disc, so really where can one draw that line on something like that.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:24 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm
It would have been nice to have the Casper Tybjerg commentary on this version, since it's a fantastic one, but it's not like someone's going to sneak in and steal my Criterion- and it's always kind of nice when the features don't overlap much. Incidentally, if anyone's on the fence about blu vs. steelbook, buy the steelbook- mine came in yesterday and I've been helplessly fondling it ever since.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:34 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:09 am
matrixschmatrix wrote:
Incidentally, if anyone's on the fence about blu vs. steelbook, buy the steelbook- mine came in yesterday and I've been helplessly fondling it ever since.

Yeah, this is my first and only steelbook, but it does add some additional elegance to an already handsome package.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:27 am 

Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:48 am
willoneill wrote:
swo17 wrote:
How many more versions of the film and/or pages in the book would it have taken to bump this up to a 4?

A gag reel would have been nice.


Or Dreyer's alternate ending where Joan whips out a Glock she had duct taped to her back, and takes out Cauchon, Loyseleur and d'Estivet, rescues de Houppeville, and rides off with Massieu on a stolen horse, to the tune of "Burning Bridges."


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:32 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:09 am
Brianruns10 wrote:
willoneill wrote:
swo17 wrote:
How many more versions of the film and/or pages in the book would it have taken to bump this up to a 4?

A gag reel would have been nice.


Or Dreyer's alternate ending where Joan whips out a Glock she had duct taped to her back, and takes out Cauchon, Loyseleur and d'Estivet, rescues de Houppeville, and rides off with Massieu on a stolen horse, to the tune of "Burning Bridges."


You're thinking of the Besson version.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:40 am 

Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:48 am
Ihmemies wrote:
I suppose film restorators are these days very afraid to edit the picture, be it DNR or levels or contrast or anything. They just put whatever comes out of scanner straight to disc. In photography I see this a lot where people mention "no editing done", as it would be some kind of crime to make the image look as good as possible?

That is the case with this new MoC bluray release. Compared to even earlier DVD releases the image looks... meh. Personally I'd make the image look something like these examples.

Image

Image

Image


First off, my compliments on your color grading. It is well intentioned and i rather like the contrast, but fundamentally, it misunderstands MOC's restoration, just as others have done by expecting more grain. We are not dealing with an OCN, which would need color grading and contrast adjustment (I think it was Gordon Willis who said the negative was the score, and the print was the performance). And while the Oslo print is the same generation removed as a master interpositive, it is not the same as an interpositive, or a fine grain or a lavender print or what have you. It was struck with the intent of being an exhibition print. Not only that, but very likely one of the first two prints made for the world premiere. And given Dreyer's exacting standards as a director, the Oslo print can arguably be said to truly represent his vision in practically every regard. The Oslo print should be a perfectly accurate reference quality print, and given that MoC was using a preservation negative struck from this print, I have little doubt that theirs reflects the original, and Dreyer's vision.

I think our perception is colored by the fact of the Criterion release, which was superb for the time in which is was made, nearly 15 years ago, but with the advances in technology as well as restoration practices, in hindsight I think it is clear that the CC DVD had some brightness and contrast boosting, and is the less accurate representation of the film. That's not to knock CC's efforts, but rather meant to convey that the disc reflects the time in which it was made, and the acceptable practices for the period. That DVD was made for a different technology too; in '99 we were all still largely working with SD 4x3 televisions, where a little contrast boosting was probably necessary. No longer with high definition and it's greater range and subtlety.

I think MoC did an outstanding job.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:47 am 
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The MoC Blu-ray was one of the first things I watched when I had my system professionally calibrated, and it looks miles better than the Criterion - contrast has been replaced by much subtler gradations between the greys. Which is why I asked Ihmemies if he/she'd seen it in motion, because frame grabs really don't do this transfer full justice.

There's a school of thought, possibly exacerbated by easy access to contrast settings, that states that black and white films should be emphatically Black and White, i.e. with deep, rich blacks and dazzlingly brilliant whites at every opportunity. But that's not necessarily what the filmmakers wanted (for instance, the Quay Brothers were very clear about this during the mastering of the BFI's Institute Benjamenta), and given that Dreyer's very next film was Vampyr, which is practically a symphony in greyscale, it seems overwhelmingly likely that this is true of Joan of Arc - as is supported by the evidence of the Oslo print.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:58 am 

Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:48 am
I think many look to Ansel Adams and the zone system, and regard it as the definitive standard of black and white photography, and they expect their black and white cinema to reflect this philosophy.

But as you pointed out, this isn't the case. Black and White is as versatile and as malleable in its way as color is. Color can be hyper saturated, or practically blanched. Black and white has similar range; you can go for tonally rich monochrome, with deep dark blacks and crisp whites, or as Dreyer seems to have preferred, you can show low con limited range for a breadth of greys but no pure absolutes.

It's a beautiful medium, and a terrible shame it is not used more in cinema (and when it is, the directors go the coward's route and shoot on color stock, and convert to B/W in post....blech).


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:33 pm 
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pro-bassoonist wrote:
However, it is my opinion that while removing damage marks/debris some grain was indeed toned down.


So you are basically calling James White a liar or what, Svet?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:22 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:09 am
Le Samouraï wrote:
pro-bassoonist wrote:
However, it is my opinion that while removing damage marks/debris some grain was indeed toned down.


So you are basically calling James White a liar or what, Svet?


I reread his comments, and I believe what he is suggesting is that some of their advertised clean-up work has had a detrimental effect on the image, and that at other times he feels they were too cautious. I don't feel that is an outrageous statement, and not one questioning anyones integrity. In fact it's almost certain that over the course of such a restoration decisions need to be made and there are not always obvious answers and it becomes a matter of personal taste. I also appreciate MoC's response that they feel they always erred on the side of being true to the source.

I love the transfer and think what cannot be stressed enough is how revelatory the 20fps speed is. I can never watch it at 24fps again.


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