93 Black Narcissus

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Martha
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93 Black Narcissus

#1 Post by Martha » Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:24 pm

Black Narcissus

[img]http://criterion_production.s3.amazonaws.com/release_images/2755/93_box_348x490_w128.jpg[/img]

This explosive work about the conflict between the spirit and the flesh is the epitome of the sensuous style of filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. A group of nuns—played by some of Britain’s best actresses, including Deborah Kerr, Flora Robson, and Jean Simmons—struggles to establish a convent in the snowcapped Himalayas; isolation, extreme weather, altitude, and culture clashes all conspire to drive the well-intentioned missionaries mad. A darkly grand film that won Oscars for its set design and for its cinematography by Jack Cardiff, Black Narcissus is one of the greatest achievements by two of cinema’s true visionaries.

SPECIAL FEATURES

- New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
- Video introduction by French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier
- Audio commentary featuring the late director Michael Powell and filmmaker Martin Scorsese
- The Audacious Adventurer, a 2006 video piece in which Tavernier discusses Black Narcissus and Powell
- Profile of “Black Narcissus” (2000), a twenty-five-minute documentary
- Painting with Light, a twenty-seven-minute documentary about Jack Cardiff’s Oscar-winning cinematography on Black Narcissus
- Original theatrical trailer
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Kent Jones

Also available on Blu-ray.

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Alonzo the Armless
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#2 Post by Alonzo the Armless » Mon Apr 18, 2005 1:40 pm

Just watched this one for the first time. More melodramatic than I expected with great use of color and music. I missed something though. The General returns to the convent after doing something bad. What was he that he did? Did he end up sleeping with the young bride and then dump her?

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Gary Tooze
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#3 Post by Gary Tooze » Sat Apr 08, 2006 11:35 am

New...

Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC "Black Narcissus" vs. Warner Home Vidéo (2-disc) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Network - Region 2 - PAL

There was some previous discussion stating that the Criterion issue of Black Narcissus had the most accurate color scheme in comparison to the, at the time - new, Region 2 UK Network release. Hopefully this will put this to rest for good. The spectacular new Warner (France) edition validates the colors of the Network release (and vice-versa).

The Criterion - has chroma, is contrast boosted and displays visible artefacts:

Image


New Warner Home Vidéo (France) - the sharpest image:

Image


Network (UK) - slightly softer but confirming the color accuracy of the Warner :

Image

The new Warner Home Vidéo DVDs are the best so far - The Red Shoes comparison should be up sometime this weekend.

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/

Regards,

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skuhn8
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#4 Post by skuhn8 » Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:00 pm

You're killing me, Gary. I've been trying to trade away my CC Narcissus so I can jump on the Network release. One of my fav P&P films. Wow. Hard to believe '48 technicolor can look so good outside the hollywood warner releasees. Now, how do we get this holy grail?

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FilmFanSea
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#5 Post by FilmFanSea » Sat Apr 08, 2006 2:57 pm

skuhn8 wrote:You're killing me, Gary. I've been trying to trade away my CC Narcissus so I can jump on the Network release. One of my fav P&P films. Wow. Hard to believe '48 technicolor can look so good outside the hollywood warner releasees. Now, how do we get this holy grail?
I'd encourage people to help out Gary's site by following the link in the Beaver review to Amazon France (~$30 USD). You might wanna wait for the upcoming Red Shoes comparison before placing your order.
Last edited by FilmFanSea on Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Gary Tooze
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#6 Post by Gary Tooze » Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:01 pm

Thanks FilmFanSea - I appreciate you remembering us...
But you might wanna wait for the upcoming Red Shoes comparison before placing your order.
I'll try to get it done today, but frankly it doesn't look as good as the Carlton The Red Shoes... but again it proves to invalidate the Criterion colors...

Best,
Gary

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ellipsis7
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#7 Post by ellipsis7 » Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:47 pm

While this is a long running debate etc., Jack Cardiff the cinematographer did approve/supervise both the CC BLACK NARCISSUS & RED SHOES transfers...

Now DVD technology and restorations may have advanced, but is it suggested the man's eyes were so off? He did shoot and grade the films after all!

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Gary Tooze
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#8 Post by Gary Tooze » Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:30 pm

Let's report the facts accurately. Regarding Black Narcissus: It is stated it was - ...created with the participation of cinematographer Jack Cardiff.... Jack would have been 86 years old at the time (year 2000) and I have no idea what his 'participation' refers to - if you do please let us know. The colorists were Vince Narduzzo/Pepper Post London and Kim Schneider/Modern Videofilm, L.A.
The new transfers (Network and Warner France) were taken directly off a new interpositive struck directly from the YCMs.... the Criterion was not.

To quote Robert Harris (who has first hand knowledge of seeing the nitrate originals of Black Narcissus):
Try as they might, and they put incredible work into their releases, Criterion has not generally been the beneficiary, at least on a timely basis, of the highest quality transfer elements on the Powell / Pressburger films.

Earlier combines of YCM elements via the BFI have yielded problematic results, which Criterion has translated as well as possible, eeking out every bit of information, and working with it to the best of the element's ability.

The new Narcissus element, at least in most cases, appears to very faithfully reproduce the look of the nitrate originals.

Simply stunning.

Contrast boost has long been a problem with dye transfer printing, with changes in dyes and technologies, being the basis of different looks through the years.
I think it is kind of silly arguing as it all comes down to personal taste - we can categorically state that the Criterion Black Narcissus has contrast boosting and chroma bug - the colors are affected. If, after looking at the images we post, you are not bothered then it is your choice which DVD edition to own. In DVDBeaver's opinion the new Warner has the most accurate colors and the sharpest image. Look at the mountain peaks in the background of the captures we posted. We presume that Jack Cardiff would have preferred digital noise, artefacts and chroma not be a part of the transfer process if it was at all possible.

Best,
Gary

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ellipsis7
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#9 Post by ellipsis7 » Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:36 pm

Jack Cardiff (I have met him) is astute, sharp, flinty etc., on the ball... I'm just suggesting he would welcome all the advances that would allow better representation of his cinematography in the new editions, however the essential colour grading could not be questioned...

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Gary Tooze
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#10 Post by Gary Tooze » Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:46 pm

...Jack Cardiff (I have met him) is astute, sharp, flinty etc., on the ball...
Are you privy to what exactly his 'participation' was in the Criterion Black Narcissus DVD?
Last edited by Gary Tooze on Sat Apr 08, 2006 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Gary Tooze
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#11 Post by Gary Tooze » Sat Apr 08, 2006 6:05 pm

...however the essential colour grading could not be questioned...
With all due respect to Jack and yourself, I don't think it is out of the realm of possibility to question the, often minor, variances in color recollection of an 86 year-old man for a film made 53 years earlier. Especially when technology tends to support the findings of relatively extensive digital manipulation on Criterion's part (contrast boosting, artefacts and chroma are easily visible - and they ruin the appearance of the film)...

1) I think Criterion, with or without Jack's direct assistance, did their best in 2000.

2) They did not have access to the best quality print (as Harris suggests)

3) I own all three DVD versions and it is my personal opinion that the Warner (France) edition is far and away the best as viewed on tube, projection (front and rear) and plasma.

4) Denegrating the Criterion DVD should in no way represent denegrating Jack Cardiff.

We can only report the facts and our conclusions based on them - the final choice is your own.

Best,
Gary

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Brian Oblivious
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#12 Post by Brian Oblivious » Sat Apr 08, 2006 6:39 pm

Gary Tooze wrote: When he was alive
(which he still is)

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Gary Tooze
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#13 Post by Gary Tooze » Sat Apr 08, 2006 6:47 pm

Of course... apologies.

Thanks Brian.

P.S. Are you the 'Brian' who I converse with in email occasionally?

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Faux Hulot
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#14 Post by Faux Hulot » Sun Apr 09, 2006 1:15 am

I can't believe that Criterion still is for real -- it looks like it should viewed with anaglyphic glasses.

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david hare
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#15 Post by david hare » Sun Apr 09, 2006 4:23 am

Well, Hulot the Criterion doesn't play that badly on a Tube TV. And I'm happy to triple dip, as I do think the Criterion was an attempt to render something like the original Technicolor to DVD in 1999, even if the other two versions look cleaner etc.

Ellipsis - like you I am entirely spellbound by Cardiff in his narrations about color theory and composition. And he is completely revelatory in his wonderful descriptions of the tri-pack camera and the nano-millmeter accuracy for the three strip prismatic registration. And then ---- the sheer artistry of his work as a DP.

However, surely the DVD format is now at a point, or close to it, where IB Techni prints can actually be rendered accurately on a disc. Personally I dont think any of the three current BNs get there. I do think a few Warner titles (which IMO have used IB print sources for the transfer) are actually there (BandWagon, Easter Parade and even Apocalypse Now Redux).

As for BN - again (being an old fart) I've seen it many times in 16mm IB and there are STILL details that even the best Eastman prints cant replicate, for instance the CU of Kathleen Byron applying the lippy, or the Flame Tree in the River, all of which sustain the red leaping out of the screen. These scenes are impossible to describe in their impact as IB prints projected, but we must be VERY close now, with DVD and the potential to produce new Kodachrome prints or whatever with variable saturation.)

I would love to think the new 1080p pogressive BluRay format would enable such transfers, but well have to wait and see.

And to end on Jack - I'm delighted he's had three picks (and royalties/fees) by now from BN alone!

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ellipsis7
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#16 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun Apr 09, 2006 4:27 am

Yes - cheers to Jack!

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Richard
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#17 Post by Richard » Mon Apr 10, 2006 5:13 pm

The new French Warner release looks incredible. I am very glad I waited so long to get the Criterion, and will now replace my el-cheapo disc with the Warner instead.

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Matt
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#18 Post by Matt » Mon Apr 17, 2006 8:07 pm

I just got my Le Narcisse noir disc and I have to say that Gary's screencaps don't even come close to showing the massive improvement in quality the French disc shows over the Criterion. It makes the Criterion look like an old VHS tape.

Details are crisp and sharp and skin tones are more natural (or, rather, as natural as Technicolor gets). At any rate, the nuns no longer look like they just got back from Mystic Tan. Even the slight tonal shifting that no one else will admit to being able to see is minimized. The image is truly gorgeous.

It's also a really lovely package with a slipcase and perfect-bound booklet. If I didn't have to keep the Criterion around for the commentary, I'd kick it to the curb so fast...

Really, I can't recommend the French disc enough. With shipping, I paid $39 from Amazon.fr - the list price of the Criterion.

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kieslowski_67
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#19 Post by kieslowski_67 » Tue Apr 18, 2006 4:20 pm

matt wrote:I just got my Le Narcisse noir disc and I have to say that Gary's screencaps don't even come close to showing the massive improvement in quality the French disc shows over the Criterion. It makes the Criterion look like an old VHS tape.

Details are crisp and sharp and skin tones are more natural (or, rather, as natural as Technicolor gets). At any rate, the nuns no longer look like they just got back from Mystic Tan. Even the slight tonal shifting that no one else will admit to being able to see is minimized. The image is truly gorgeous.

It's also a really lovely package with a slipcase and perfect-bound booklet. If I didn't have to keep the Criterion around for the commentary, I'd kick it to the curb so fast...

Really, I can't recommend the French disc enough. With shipping, I paid $39 from Amazon.fr - the list price of the Criterion.
You must be kidding me! I asked Gary and he informed me that this is a vast improvement over the Criterion disc. I thought that the screenshots at Beaver did not capture the difference at all. All right, I now have to plug in $80 to get this and "Red Shoes" in French release.

It's time to sell some Criterion releases, again.

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david hare
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#20 Post by david hare » Tue Apr 18, 2006 6:11 pm

The French Red Shoes looks horrible. Wait until this title is properly restored.

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Gordon
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#21 Post by Gordon » Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:48 pm

It is quite strange how Warner France used such a great transfer for Black Narcissus and such an utter shite one for The Red Shoes. At the very least, one would have expected them to use the Carlton master, but they seem to have dug up one of the worst prints of the film out there. But that's the weird and wonderful world of DVD for ya. :|

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Matt
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#22 Post by Matt » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:04 pm

DVD Planet is canceling orders for this title, saying it's been discontinued. It's also listed as "not available" at Deep Discount. It's not listed as out-of-print on Criterion's site (and we know they've got no problem updating the status of other discs), so I don't know what's going on.

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domino harvey
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#23 Post by domino harvey » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:11 pm

Matt wrote:DVD Planet is canceling orders for this title, saying it's been discontinued. It's also listed as "not available" at Deep Discount. It's not listed as out-of-print on Criterion's site (and we know they've got no problem updating the status of other discs), so I don't know what's going on.
Ugetsu and L'avventura are in the same boat (they're not even listed anymore), I think DVDPlanet is just being weird.

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criterionsnob
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#24 Post by criterionsnob » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:14 pm

I'm beginning to think Criterion is letting discs go out of print so they can start re-issuing them in HD. Pure speculation of course.

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domino harvey
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#25 Post by domino harvey » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:53 pm

the above-mentioned aren't out of print, DVDPlanet just has discontinued carrying them.

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