30 M

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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Martha
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30 M

#1 Post by Martha » Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:50 am

M

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A simple, haunting phrase whistled off-screen tells us that a young girl will be killed. "Who is the murderer?" pleads a nearby placard as serial killer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) closes in on little Elsie Beckmann. In his harrowing masterwork M, Fritz Lang merges trenchant social commentary with chilling suspense, creating a panorama of private madness and public hysteria that to this day remains the blueprint for the psychological thriller. The Criterion Collection is proud to present a new restoration of this landmark film.

SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET

- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.19:1
- Audio commentary by German film scholars Anton Kaes, author of the BFI Film Classics volume on M, and Eric Rentschler, author of The Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and Its Afterlife
- Conversation with Fritz Lang, a 50-minute film by William Friedkin
- Claude Chabrol's M le Maudit, a short film inspired by M, plus an interview with Chabrol by Pierre-Henri Gibert about Lang's filmmaking techniques
- Classroom tapes of M editor Paul Falkenberg discussing the film and its history
- Interview with Harold Nebenzal, the son of M producer Seymour Nebenzal
- A physical history of M
- Stills gallery, with behind-the-scenes photos, and production sketches by art director Emil Hasler
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- Plus: a 32-page booklet featuring an essay by film critic Stanley Kauffmann, a 1963 interview with Lang, the script for a missing scene, and contemporaneous newspaper articles

Original DVD:
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New DVD:
Criterionforum.org user rating averages


unclehulot
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#2 Post by unclehulot » Sat Nov 06, 2004 1:24 am

Previously someone had linked to this article at Masters of Cinema which has some interesting details about the newly restored cut of M.

I believe the current thinking is that this restored cut will be used by Criterion for the new M reissue which has been announced for December 7th of 2004.
Hopefully Criterion has done its own sound restoration; if this reprises the same track with the piss-poor overuse of digital noise reduction of the Eureka edition I'll be an unhappy camper! When the noise floor COMPLETELY disappears when the engineer decides there is "no sound", it is distracting in the extreme, and a disservice to Lang's meticulous sound design.

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mbalson
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#3 Post by mbalson » Sat Nov 06, 2004 2:12 am

if this reprises the same track with the piss-poor overuse of digital noise reduction of the Eureka edition I'll be an unhappy camper
I think we went over this on the old forum and yes I totally agree. The sound is horrible on all current DVD editions. Give me subtle hiss over harsh digital noise limiting any day.

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Tribe
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#4 Post by Tribe » Tue Dec 07, 2004 12:46 am

Very, very nice transfer on this re-issue. I'm sure some will quibble with it, but for me, it's almost like watching this for the first time. Beautiful grain and shadows.

Haven't looked at the extras yet, but did listen to the commentary. I like the discussion between two commentators, rather than the dry solo reading ala Cowie. The two commentators here appear to be very well-versed in Lang's work, as well as Weimar history. They do a nice job of placing M within a historical context here.

They also appear to be eloquent in theory, which of course has its moments of perception and moments of silliness. Regarding the latter, one of them views the excessive smoking of the various characters as indicative of a general nervous current through the German people at the time. I have no doubt that there may have in fact existed some sense of nervousness running through the population.

I just think people liked to smoke cigarettes a lot more back then.

Interesting how cigarette smoking has entered the the realm of theory.

John

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Harold Gervais
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#5 Post by Harold Gervais » Tue Dec 07, 2004 3:10 am

Compared to every version I've ever seen & heard of M, this new version is a amazing. My main problem has usually been with the sound and Criterion has done a wonderful job with the audio. Of the extras, the interview with Lang doesn't cover much new ground but it is fun to listen to him spin his web of why & how he "fled" Germany. The short film is also an interesting footnote, if not something I'll probably ever feel the need to watch again. Hopefully I can fit the commentary in tomorrow. Still, I'm just blown away how good the movie looks and sounds.

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Michael Kerpan
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#6 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Dec 07, 2004 9:19 am

> This new version is perhaps the best restoration of an early sound film I
> have ever seen

Ditto.

Stunned is the only word I have to describe my reaction to what I saw in this restoration, as compared to my memories of what I had seen in the past.

MEK

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#7 Post by unclehulot » Tue Dec 07, 2004 12:10 pm

John wrote:I just think people liked to smoke cigarettes a lot more back then.

Interesting how cigarette smoking has entered the the realm of theory.
I think the massive clouds of smoke during the cross cutting between the two groups strategizing about what to do about the murders is certainly another way of showing how close the two sides are to each other. Haven't heard the commentaries, but it's no accident....and is wonderfully over the top to make a point.

Just watched the wonderful restoration of Spione, can't wait to revisit M!

I recommend Tom Gunning's The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity for those wanting some more food for thought.

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Tribe
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#8 Post by Tribe » Tue Dec 07, 2004 12:23 pm

Just watched the wonderful restoration of Spione, can't wait to revisit M!
It's been a great year for Lang fans what with Criterion's M and Testament of Dr. Mabuse and Kino's Spies and Woman in the Moon...all with very nice transfers. For my money, there is no livelier and consistently masterful period of film-making than 1925-1931 German cinema.

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The Invunche
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#9 Post by The Invunche » Tue Dec 07, 2004 5:34 pm

How do you see sound?

unclehulot
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#10 Post by unclehulot » Tue Dec 07, 2004 6:36 pm

The Invunche wrote:How do you see sound?
Huh?

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Michael
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#11 Post by Michael » Tue Dec 07, 2004 6:51 pm

The Invunche wrote:
How do you see sound?

Huh?
Maybe he needs to stop drinking now.

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The Invunche
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#12 Post by The Invunche » Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:09 pm

No I just need to learn how to read.

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#13 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:28 am

The Invunche wrote:How do you see sound?
I can't see it but somehow I know its waving!

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denti alligator
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#14 Post by denti alligator » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:14 pm

I wonder why Criterion chose to pillar box left and right and to add black borders to the top and bottom. This makes for a smaller image all around. They could have done what they did with The Testament of Dr. Mabuse and just pillarboxed (left/right). The dimensions would be the same, but you would then have smaller bars for the pillarboxing, making for an all around larger image.

Besides this (admittedly trivial) complaint, this new edition is quite nice. It took a surprising one day to arrive from DVDPlanet's slower free shipping service. Not bad.

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Tribe
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#15 Post by Tribe » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:19 pm

I wonder why Criterion chose to pillar box left and right and to add black borders to the top and bottom. This makes for a smaller image all around.
Could this be your setup, denti....you've mentioned before that you use your computer monitor. I didn't get that effect at all.

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denti alligator
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#16 Post by denti alligator » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:26 pm

No it's not my set-up. I did a comparison with the Testament disc to make sure. The bars on top and bottom are much smaller (about one third the size) than the pillar bozed sides, but they're there. Most TVs' overscan will probably hide them.

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#17 Post by Poncho Punch » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:38 pm

denti alligator wrote:No it's not my set-up. I did a comparison with the Testament disc to make sure. The bars on top and bottom are much smaller (about one third the size) than the pillar bozed sides, but they're there. Most TVs' overscan will probably hide them.
Maybe that's why - so the image isn't cut off with overscan?

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denti alligator
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#18 Post by denti alligator » Wed Dec 08, 2004 8:02 pm

Since when does any DVD company (Criterion included) care about how much overscan affects the image your average viewer sees?

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#19 Post by Narshty » Wed Dec 08, 2004 8:07 pm

Synapse do. They've been doing occasional windowboxed transfers of 1.33:1 films since 2000.

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Jun-Dai
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#20 Post by Jun-Dai » Wed Dec 08, 2004 8:14 pm

A number of R2 releases from Japan that I've watched use windowboxing for the presumable purpose of countering TV overscan. Most recently I saw this in Maboroshi. I have very mixed feelings about the practice (for a film like Playtime I'd have to say that I'm in favor of it, as the drawbacks of so many people missing the edge of the frame are greater than the benefits of eking every last bit of resolution out of the frame, as indicated by the reviews on Amazon that claim that important gags at the edge of the frame have been left out).

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#21 Post by Napoleon » Tue Dec 14, 2004 9:26 am

I’m not at all technically minded, so the over scan and possible edge enhancement don’t affect me. To my eyes the restoration really is very nice. As much a revelation as the restoration done to ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.

Also taking into consideration the direction and subject matter this still feels like a much more modern film (early 40’s?).

Although I've seen it a few times before, this is the first time I've noticed how tricksy Lang is with his use of sound (must be getting better at watching films).
Two moments early in the film that stick with me are:

1. The pause on the empty balcony at the beginning while the children wait for the woman to be clear before re-commencing their singing.

2. The man reading (to the gathered crowd) the notification of the murderers latest crime switching (with the same voice) to the guy reading the same message to his friends gathered around the table.

Meanwhile on the visual side I never before noticed the single take introduction to the lives of the beggers. It’s not overly long but the precision movements of the camera are staggering.

Haven’t even loaded the second disc yet, but the transfer alone makes this a very satisfactory replacement of the earlier cc release.

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mbalson
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#22 Post by mbalson » Wed Dec 22, 2004 1:03 am

I received my copy today and of course the new transfer is amazing. However, I was just as interested in the remastered soundtrack which did not disappoint. The older Criterion release exhibited a harshness between total silence and audible hiss. Whenever the soundtrack wasn't active it seemed that noise reduction was used to muffle the hiss. Then, when a sound occurred it was jarring and distorted. This new soundtrack is much more subtle and has a nice constant low hiss throughout. Whenever the soundtrack becomes active it natural and much more effective.

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Steven H
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#23 Post by Steven H » Thu Dec 23, 2004 2:34 pm

Got mine the other day... I love the Physical History of M piece. Did anyone else find this incredibly informative?

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Steven H
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#24 Post by Steven H » Thu Dec 23, 2004 3:37 pm

I'd like to see more of this, but maybe with an accompanying essay with links a la In The Mood For Love's bit about the use of sound in the film. Putting the multimedia aspect of DVDs to real use. Or maybe a commentary track that uses seamless branching of the actual film to prove a point (this could be put to amazing use with Ozu to show the consistent themes throughout his films).

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#25 Post by Narshty » Mon Dec 27, 2004 7:09 am

hektor wrote:Likewise there is a Chabrol interview in the new "M" DVD. It seems to me that it was not shot exclusively for Criterion. Does someone know when and for which show or event it was shot ?

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