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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 1:31 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 10:55 pm
Olympia

I know of Pathfinder Pictures from their Chabrol and Miike titles, none of which I've given more than a quick glance at on store shelves. Any idea if this would be worth picking up, based on their previous releases?

Also coming out on the same day is an obscure film called "The Noah," which I've heard some good things about in passing. May rent that one, but I'd like to have a decent version of "Olympia" on my shelves sooner rather than later.

-BJ


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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 4:08 pm 
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Great pick-up on The Noah, BJ.

Phil Hall at Film Threat has written an ecstatic tribute to this ultra-obscure film. The intro:
Quote:
The creepiest movie ever made did not require ghouls, slashers, aliens, or CGI trickery to create a brilliant state of viewer unease. All it required was a single man lost in his own madness. The film in question is Daniel Bourla's 1974 feature "The Noah," which is a disturbing journey into genuine terror via the torment of a lost soul whose mind has hopelessly frayed.


EDIT: With respect to star Robert Strauss: I remember him best as Charlie Leach, the scheming streetwise loser who attempts to blackmail Samantha into twitching up all the trappings of wealth for him and his bimbo wife Charmaine on three memorable episodes of Bewitched.


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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 4:32 am 
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I LOVE posts that go straight OT immediately!!!

(Um, which eps of "Bewitched" FFS?)


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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 6:25 am 
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Extras on OLYMPIA...

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This limited edition 2-disc set features the complete original version of OLYMPIA, presented for the first time on DVD.
Special Edition DVD features: Over 5 hours of material including JUGEND DER WELT ("Youth of The World") Official Documentary of the 1936 Winter Olympics at Gaemisch-Partenkirchen, DIE KAMERA FAHRT MIT ("The Camera Goes Too") 1936 Documentary by Bavaria-Filmkunst featuring footage from Leni Rifenstahl's films OLYMPIA and TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. Deleted Scenes, Biography, Still Gallery, German with ON/OFF English subtitles and English language, Dolby 2.0 audio, Essays by film historian David Calvert Smith, Trailers



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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 12:34 pm 
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davidhare wrote:
I LOVE posts that go straight OT immediately!!!

(Um, which eps of "Bewitched" FFS?)

Maybe The Noah deserved a thread all its own, but I'm glad BJ discovered its release.

From bewitched.net:
Quote:
66. "FOLLOW THAT WITCH" (4-14-66)

PART I

CAST
Samantha - Elizabeth Montgomery
Darrin - Dick York
Harriet - Mary Grace Canfield
Mr. Robbins - Jack Collins
Secretary(Miss Perkins) - Judy Pace
STEVE GRANKEN as George Barkley
ROBERT STRAUSS as Charlie Leach
VIRGINIA MARTIN as Charmaine Leach

SYNOPSIS
Harriet, Abner's sister, is keeping house for him while Gladys is away. She finds that Gladys' stories of Samantha's unusual activities are true. Meanwhile Darrin is winding up a deal to handle advertising for the Robbins Baby Food Company. Mr. Robbins, the president, agrees with his assistant, George Barkley, that the final decision should be deferred. Believing that anyone working on their account should be completely wholesome, Barkley, on his own, has hired Charlie Leach, a private detective, to shadow Darrin. On a report that Darrin has an exemplary character, Barkley orders Leach to investigate Samantha.

Leach is dubious of Harriet's report on Samantha. When he investigates further, a series of wild events occur as Samantha parries his snooping. Charlie finally finds himself on a ledge forty stories up. After Leach's implausible story, Barkley fires him. Charmaine, Leach's wife, has long complained of their meager existence. Hearing about Samantha, she suggests that Charlie get Samantha to provide them with the luxuries they have been missing. Leach then tells Samantha that unless she makes him wealthy he will expose her as a witch.

Written by: Bernard Slade
Directed by: William Asher
Produced by: Jerry Davis


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

67. "FOLLOW THAT WITCH" (4-21-66)
PART II

CAST

Samantha - Elizabeth Montgomery
Darrin - Dick York
Abner - George Tobias
Harriet - Mary Grace Canfield
Mr. Robbins - Jack Collins
Betty - Jill Foster
Mrs. Granite - Renie Riano
Miss Perkins - Judy Pace
STEVE FRANKEN as George Barkley
ROBERT STRAUSS as Charlie Leach
VIRGINIA MARTIN as Charmaine Leach

SYNOPSIS
George Barkley, assistant to the president of the Robbins Baby Food Company, has hired Charlie Leach to check on Samantha. Discovering Samantha is a witch, Leach threatens to expose her unless she makes him a rich man.

Learning that Leach's report can cost Darrin the account, Samantha produces a new car for Leach and transforms his sleazy apartment into a luxurious home. Darrin is furious when he learns what Leach has been up to. He decides to tell Robbins and Barkley his company doesn't want their account. He goes to the meeting with Samantha. There Samantha twitches her nose and forces Barkley to admit he wants to take over his boss' job. Robbins fires him and signs a contract with Darrin.

Darrin gives Samantha permission to use her witchcraft to teach Leach a lesson. Making herself invisible, Samantha goes to Leach's apartment. A series of Samantha's twitches turns the place into a shambles, and Leach's automobile into a kiddie car. Later, Leach tries to blackmail Samantha again. She turns him into a bullfighter, facing an enraged bull. He manages to escape, but vows to visit Samantha again if he ever gets home from Mexico.

Written by: Bernard Slade
Directed by: William Asher
Produced by: Jerry Davis

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

71. "THE CATNAPPER" (5-19-66)

CAST

Samantha - Elizabeth Montgomery
Darrin - Dick York
Endora - Agnes Moorehead
Toni Devlin - Marion Thompson

DAVID WHITE as Larry Tate
ROBERT STRAUSS as Charlie Leach
VIRGINIA MARTIN as Charmaine Leach

SYNOPSIS
Samantha derides Endora's statement that Darrin gives evidence of interest in another woman. Meanwhile, Charlie Leach, an unscrupulous private eye, discovers Endora and Samantha are both witches. He tells Charmaine, his wife, that he is going to cash in on his find. Samantha and Endora see Darrin with Toni Devlin, an attractive client. Samantha insists it is a business lunch. However, when Toni comes to the Stephens home to discuss some ad changes with Darrin, Endora turns her into a cat. Leach steals the cat and tells Samantha he will return it if Samantha produces a million dollars for him. Samantha gives Leach a money tree. After pocketing the bills growing on its branches, Leach takes the tree home to prove Samantha's claim that it will bloom every twenty four hours.

After Charlie gets home, Samantha turns him into a mouse. When the cat starts chasing him, Charlie calls Samantha for help and agrees to return the cat. Samantha, after a worldwide search, locates Endora in Tibet. Endora turns Toni back to normal in time for an important meeting at Darrin's office. Leach finds the tree doesn't grow money and that the bills in his wallet have turned into leaves. He vows to get even with Samantha.

Written by: Howard Leeds
Directed by: R. Robert Rosenbaum
Produced by: Jerry Davis


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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 3:31 pm 
Wow, the news of Olympia is wonderful. A street date even. And some worthy extras. I'm almost afraid to ask if there is a catch.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 3:20 am 

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So, has anyone picked up the R1 who can comment on the transfer,extras etc?....


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 6:50 pm 
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Toxicologist wrote:
So, has anyone picked up the R1 who can comment on the transfer,extras etc?....

Although it was scheduled to be released on June 27th, no one seems to have this in stock (in fact, Deep Discount, DVD Planet-Digital Eyes, DVD Empire, and Laser's Edge don't even list it), and there have been no online reviews I can find, so it looks like Pathfinder may have run into some delays.

Amazon.ca is listing a new release date of August 1st, but I can't find any other confirmation.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 7:02 pm 
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Strange... I pre-ordered it through Amazon's American site, and I received a messaget that it had been dispatched at least a week ago. I have not received it yet (I live in Sweden), but will post again when I do.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 7:16 pm 
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Interesting, Scharphedin2. Though, checking back at Amazon (US), the listing says "usually ships in 24 hours," so it looks like I'm wrong.

Still, Olympia has to be one of Pathfinder's most high-profile releases, so I'm surprised it's not more widely available (at least online). And why no reviews so far? Curious.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 7:41 pm 
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A customer review on Amazon two days ago had the following to say:
Quote:
This DVD sadly has an image quality comparable to what the citizens of Berlin saw on those twenty five large screens scattered along the City's main boulevards 70 years ago. Having seen some excerpts from "Olympia" in the documentary `The Wonderful Horrible life of Leni Riefenstahl" on DVD, I had great expectations concerning the image quality of this new release. What a disappointment! No one bothered to digitally remove the annoying scratches not mentioning the total absence of any timid tentative of restoration of a decent audio sound. Everything seems like a low resolution transfer from a cheap VHS. Let's hope that some day Criterion Collection will do this film the justice it deserves.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2006 8:08 pm 
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I just got it today in the mail from Amazon. I will see it during the next few days and post some comments.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 1:32 am 

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gigimonagas wrote:
I just got it today in the mail from Amazon. I will see it during the next few days and post some comments.


Much appreciated.

Having seen the quote from a customer at Amazon as listed above i'm not filled with optimism and seems like i'll have to go the German R2 route.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 11:49 am 
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Well, now there's another, much more positive customer review on Amazon:

Quote:
This long awaited release is by far the best version of this film yet released, far exceeding Criterion's previous Laser disc release. This is by far the most accurate and complete version of this film classic, presented in its original form in German (with English subtitles) and English dialogue and loaded with bonus extras, some not previously seen before such as the "Olympic Oath" footage which was cut out of the original version and packed with extra footage from foreign language versions not included in the German or English releases. This is the definitive version of a timeless, landmark cinematic classic which has been unsurpassed in all the history of world cinema. Hats off to Pathfinder as they have selected not only the best quality 35mm prints but also making it possible for this exceptional release to be available on easily accessable DVDs. The best release for the year 2006!


Who to believe?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 12:30 pm 
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tryavna wrote:
Well, now there's another, much more positive customer review on Amazon:

Quote:
This long awaited release is by far the best version of this film yet released, far exceeding Criterion's previous Laser disc release. This is by far the most accurate and complete version of this film classic, presented in its original form in German (with English subtitles) and English dialogue and loaded with bonus extras, some not previously seen before such as the "Olympic Oath" footage which was cut out of the original version and packed with extra footage from foreign language versions not included in the German or English releases. This is the definitive version of a timeless, landmark cinematic classic which has been unsurpassed in all the history of world cinema. Hats off to Pathfinder as they have selected not only the best quality 35mm prints but also making it possible for this exceptional release to be available on easily accessable DVDs. The best release for the year 2006!


Who to believe?

That sort of impersonal, breathless, unbalanced praise (especially when it is at odds with the opinion of a previous reviewer) always makes me suspicious that it was written by a PR hack. It is also the sole submission from Amazon reviewer "Michael R. Whitehead" of San Francisco. I hope this release is everything "Michael R. Whitehead" says it is ("best release for the year 2006!"?????), but I'm skeptical (especially given Pathfinder's past record).


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 1:37 pm 
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tryavna wrote:
Well, now there's another, much more positive customer review on Amazon...Who to believe?

That other review doesn't really tell us anything about the quality of the DVD itself or the condition of the print that was used. It left me with the impression that it was written after only reading the press release and not actually seeing the disc. Like Brian, I thought it sounded a little too much as though it had been written by someone associated with Pathfinder.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 2:32 pm 
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I agree that the breathlessness of the newer review is a bit much, but I just thought I'd throw it out there, since we're still waiting on more reliable info from some of our fellow members. (To be honest, I don't find either reviewer particularly compelling. One could lodge similar complaints about "annoying scratches" against just about any of the old RKO films released by Warner.)

Anyway, don't shoot the messenger...! :wink:


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 12:38 am 
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I have the disc at home for review (i have two more reviews to post before this one as I received a large batch of R2 titles) but what I can tell you at this point is that the image quality is far from being impressive and on top of everything else the disc has been PAL-sourced (read PAL-NTSC transfer with all of the issues we have come to expect from such treatment). There is a notable degree of "ghosting" on it. To sum it all up...it is a mediocre presentation at (very) best!!!

Ciao,
Pro-B


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 2:21 am 
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pro-bassoonist wrote:
I have the disc at home for review (i have two more reviews to post before this one as I received a large batch of R2 titles) but what I can tell you at this point is that the image quality is far from being impressive and on top of everything else the disc has been PAL-sourced (read PAL-NTSC transfer with all of the issues we have come to expect from such treatment). There is a notable degree of "ghosting" on it. To sum it all up...it is a mediocre presentation at (very) best!!!

Ciao,
Pro-B

Thanks for the low-down, Svet. I figured as much (though I really wanted to be wrong).

Brian


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 4:35 am 
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mediocre is too good of a description of this transfer. Don't waste your money. Looks like it came from a video tranfer to me


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 5:56 am 
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Well, I haven't seen the new version of "olympia" yet, but being on the len-e discussion list at yahoo I know from people directed involved in the making of this new edition that they really made an effort in getting it right, unearthing rare prints in order to restore the Olympic Oath and original cut etc. I suppose in order to do this they would have had to use damaged materials in places. It would not excuse, however, PAL/NTSC-ghosting and a murky image. Problem is that the German R2s (published by arte edition) also do not look great at all (scratches, excessive grain, slightly unsharp in places) and are not much better than a VHS either, which sadly also goes for all the other German Riefenstahl/Fanck dvds.

Which makes me wonder whether the original material of "Olympia" is no longer in great shape anyway (or no decent print, let alone the negative is available). I would be very grateful if the Beaver or anyone else could do a direct comparison of the new R1 and the German R2... I have the fear that there will not be much difference (apart from the ghosting, of course). The extras would be superior on the R1 in any case (the R2 has none).


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 10:40 am 
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The Criterion and IVC laserdisc versions of Olympia, though not stellar, do not sound as poor as you describe these DVD versions to be. As for the Fanck/Riefenstahl DVDs, I'm not quite sure what you mean. The restored White Hell of Pitz Palu was released by ARThaus and Kino and both look quite good. MoC's Holy Mountain also looked good to me. Kino's Storm over Mt. Blanc and S.O.S. Iceberg were not gorgeous but seemed to be acceptable (even for Kino releases). Although neither has made it to DVD, there are breathtaking restorations of both S.O.S. Iceberg and The White Flame (the former is excerpted on Browlow's Cinema Europe documentary).


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 11:30 am 
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Sorry, I was indeed not speaking clearly. I did not have "Piz Palü" in mind nor, of course, MoC's "Holy Mountain", both of which are fantastic.

I was referring to the recent releases of "Das blaue Licht" and "Tiefland" in Germany by arthaus edition . "Das blaue Licht" looks quite good, at least the 1932 version, but "Tiefland" is not much better than the old VHS tape I had of it before. "DbL" still is a far cry from "The holy Mountain", imagewise. Both have no extras to talk about. The German "Olympias" are about the same quality, so they are not really poor, but clearly not as good as "Piz Palü", MoC's "Mountain" or Synapse's "Triumph" (which is by far the best version of it, although also not perfect).

Really problematic (although I am SO happy that they exist at all) are the German Fanck releases on 101 films, "Mont Blanc", "Der weiße Rausch", "Die Tochter des Samurai" and "Ein Robinson". All are taken from very worn prints, unrestored. Especially "Robinson" is close to unwatchable in places, and all of them are only slightly better than the VHS versions published earlier by the same label. Same goes for the "SOS Eisberg" released on Universum films, though here the print quality is much better. I do not know whether the Kino release of "Mont Blanc" is the same print as the 101 release (which is also identical to the Japanese DVD, which I have), but so far I have heard nothing good of it, except that Kino added that rare "Mayola" short.
Great to hear, however, that there is a "breathtaking restoration" of "Der weiße Rausch", but obviously it has not made it to 101 films.

Anyway, although I should find these Fanck releases unacceptable by any standards now common, I would recommend them nevertheless for the moment, as these Fanck films sometimes can be almost as striking as Leni's. A must see for anyone interested in late-Weimar cinema.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 6:58 pm 
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I received my copy of Olympia today. As usual time has not permitted to sit down and watch the entire disc, but I did skim through it, and watched apx. 15-20 minutes altogether.

Having followed the comments above, I would tend to take the middle ground. This is not a "criterion" style restoration or enhancement of the film... not by a long shot. However, I also think it is too harsh to say that the quality is VHS. There are definitely segments that show the wear and tear of age, but are also segments that look reasonably clean.

The following is my very personal take on the whole issue of presentations of films on DVD. I hope it will not rub anyone the wrong way. If it can help anyone take more pleasure in watching these films (like Olympiad), when the presentation may not be all that one could hope and desire, then I would only be happy.

As far as I am concerned, this is an art-documentary from 1938, and it is a lady that looks her age, but with grace... and not one that has 56 surgical beauty operations to her name. I am very certain that Pathfinder in fact did put a lot of effort into presenting this film, as best as they possibly could. Everything from the cover to the extras, and even one could argue in the presentation of the film itself, one feels that these people love the film, and have made the decisions within their budget to bring this film to the public with as much class as possible.

To a certain extent I feel that if a full restoration was not in the cards, then rather present what exists faithfully to the available source. My hunch is that this is what Pathfinder has done. Doubtless this will disappoint those, who have come to set the criterion standard as their benchmark for DVDs. My view is probably the inverse of that -- I am in awe at the work that Criterion, Masters of Cinema, and a select few other labels put into their releases. Much of everything else is acceptable to me, as long as the effort and "love" is there. Watching Second Run's release of Mother Joan of Angels last night was a good example -- as DVDs go, it is probably one of the weaker presentations of a film that you can find out there, but when you then learn that the film had practically been lost, and that Second Run did what they could to find the best possible materials and present these, then, once more, it becomes a really special feeling to have been offered the opportunity to see the film. The film itself of course is a marvel -- pure and simply. It is a masterpiece, and I would be sad to think that I would not have had the opportunity to see it for another 5 or 10 years, or possibly never...

So, in returning to Olympia, the way I approach watching a film like this is that I program it into my schedule, and I look forward to seeing the specific film, sometimes for weeks. I do not really worry about the level of quality of the presentation, once I have decided to watch a given film. And, I try to live myself into the mood and experience that awaits me with the specific film -- many of these films that are now becoming available on DVD are films that I have looked forward to being able to watch for 10 - 20 years (Olympia being one such case). With this particular film, once I sit down to watch it, I will surely be a young German man walking into a theatre sometime in 1938 to see this amazing spectacle that Leni Riefenstahl has brought to the screen. I find that whether watching films on DVD or in a theatre, a greater contributing factor to the enjoyment of the film than the technical quality of the presentation as such, is the actual amount of personal enthusiasm and imagination that I am able to invest in the viewing experience.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2006 11:37 pm 
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I would be interested in what more people think about this disc that have actually viewed it. I am surprized by the above review. I watched this and originally called a near "video transfer" and still stick to that statement. Yes, we come to expect a lot from companies like Criterion or Fox but when a company does not even attempt to make any type of restoration for such and important film and sell it at a premium price then the buyer does expect at least a watchable DVD. The recent reissue of "Triumph of the Will" is decent though somewhat rough so I would think that the transfor for "Olympia" could at least equal "Triumph" and it doen't even come near.

I think this transfer ranks up there with Waterbearer's "The Gospel According to St. Matthew" and the Ray Trilogy that came out a few years ago. The image really counts (this is cinema after all) and a poor presentation can ruin a film for viewer. It seems that most transfers these days are pretty good, that companies have figured out the basics of digital restoration and to not even attempt that and charge heavily for just being able to view the film are cheating the public. I still encourgage people to rent it if you must watch it, but wait and see if Criterion does release it.


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