Joan Carr-Wiggin’s “if i were you” is a comedy that rides on the shoulders of Marcia Gay Harden’s acting performance. It’s not a great film but it’s an enjoyable and charming film worth watching.
© 2013 Kino Lorber, Inc. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: if i were you
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 115 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, 5.1 Dolby and Stereo, Closed Caption
COMPANY: Kino Lorber Inc.
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: May 14, 2013
Written and Directed by Joan Carr-Wiggin
Executive Producer: Peter Bates, Kirsty Bell, Vito Bianchini, Savitri Gordian, Mark Paladini, Vince Woods
Produced by David Gordian, Alan Latham
Line Producer: Stephen Traynor
Music by Pauolo Buonvino, Guy Farley
Cinematography by Bruce Worrall
Production Design by Sean Breaugh
Set Decoration by Nigel Hutchins
Costume Design by Brenda Broer
Marcia Gay Harden as Madelyn
Leonor Watling as Lucy
Joseph Kell as Paul
Aidan Quinn as Derek
Valerie Mahaffey as Lydia
Gary Piquer as Keith
Michael Therriault as Rainer
Leon Aureus as Tyler
Claire Brosseau as Regan
Patrick Garrow as Edmund
Bethany Jillard as Cordelia
Madelyn (Marcia Gay Harden) is a successful, self-possessed, middle-aged businesswoman – until she finds out that her husband’s late nights at work are actually intimate dinners with a sexy young aspiring actress, Lucy (Leonor Watling, Hable con Ella). When Madelyn starts stalking this new mistress, she witnesses what she thinks might be the beginnings of a suicide attempt and ends up talking her down.
While Lucy is ignorant of Madelyn’s true identity, the two form a bizarre pact with unforeseen consequences. Matters are complicated further by an amorous coworker and an encounter with a handsome stranger (the ever delectable Aidan Quinn).
Academy Award winning actress Marcia Gay Harden is known for her dramatic roles in films such as “Pollock”, “Mystic River”, “The Mist”, “Miller’s Crossing”, “Into the Wild” and occasionally on television as an FBI agent on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Damages”.
But a comedy role?
Harden goes to show that even she can do comedy with efficacy in Joan Carr-Wiggin’s “if i were you”.
Carr-Wiggin, a writer/director for films such as “A Previous Engagement”, “My First Wedding” and “Honeymoon” is known to explore romantic comedy in her films and her latest film stars Marcia Gay Harden, Spanish actress Leonor Watling (“Talk to Her”, “The Oxford Murders”, “Unconscious”), Joseph Charles (“MythQuest”, “Relativity”) and Aidan Quinn (“Legends of the Fall”, “Benny & Joon”, “Unknown”, “The Mission”).
The film won an “Audience Award” at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and now will be released on DVD in May 2013 courtesy of Kino Lorber.
“if i were you” is a film that revolves around Madelyn (portrayed by Marcia Gay Harden), a hardworking businesswoman with an equally busy-at-work husband named Paul (portrayed by Joseph Kell).
Unfortunately, Paul has been coming home very late far too often and for Madelyn, she realizes that her husband has been working on an audit and has a reason to be coming home late. That was until she makes a quick stop to a restaurant and catches her husband having a romantic dinner with a woman.
Distraught, Madelyn can’t believe what she is seeing. To make sure it is her husband, she makes a phone call to him and it is confirmed that the man is her husband. But the second call catches her husband off-guard and alerts him that maybe she knows that he is having an affair. He quickly ends his date with the woman and as they make their way out of the restaurant, Madelyn tries to quickly hide from them inside a liquor store. She sees the two having an argument and the woman is seen crying and going inside the liquor store.
The woman crying is seen asking for a rope and a bottle of liquor. Wondering why a woman would buy a rope, Madelyn who appears to be concerned but also wondering who the woman that her husband has been having an affair with, starts following her back to her apartment complex. And Madelyn becomes persistent, thinking the woman is trying to kill herself and she’s right.
Madelyn convinces the woman named Lucy (portrayed by Leonor Watling) that it is not worth killing herself over a man. And Lucy looks at Madelyn as a woman that saved her life. As the two discuss each other’s business, Lucy is unaware that the man she is having an affair with is Madelyn’s husband, while Madelyn talks about her husband having an affair with a woman.
Madelyn learns from Lucy that she is a struggling actress who has become obsessed with Paul and through their discussion, learning how bad her marriage was, when all this time, she thought things were going perfectly.
And somehow through their discussion, the two women bond and become friends. Lucy feels that she and her new friend should make a new pact, that temporarily, one would make major decisions for the other, so they don’t mess up their lives.
For Madelyn, she knows she can use the time to pull Lucy away from her husband, but also get to learn about her husband from Lucy and how he really felt about her and their marriage. As for Lucy, she feels that Madelyn can make her husband jealous by having an affair of her own to be even.
But the timing for Madelyn couldn’t be any worse. Her mother is dying of dementia and she is awaiting that call that she has passed away, her marriage appears to now be over and to get through her day, she starts drinking heavily that it begins affecting her job.
But when she tells her boss Keith (portrayed by Gary Piquer) that Paul has had an affair, instead of the usual apologetic comment, Keith confesses to Madelyn that he has always loved her and in a heartbeat, will leave his wife Lydia (portrayed by Valerie Mahaffey) if she tells him that they have a chance.
Meanwhile, Lucy keeps calling her of whether or not she should call Paul, but Madelyn tells her that she should wait for Paul’s call, making sure that their relationship grows distant. But when Madelyn begins receiving these calls often, even early in the morning and notices a change of her attitude towards him and her daily routine, he begins to suspect that she is having an affair and it starts to anger him.
One day, as Madelyn is hanging out with Lucy for a theatrical audition for King Lear, Madelyn and her husband get into a heated argument during their phone conversation and somehow Madelyn ends up getting hired for the lead role and becoming a female version of King Lear. Which in essence, keeps her out late and making her husband even more suspicious.
But as Madelyn tries to use this friendship with Lucy to keep her away from her husband, she meets a stranger (portrayed by Aidan Quinn) at the nursing home and somehow these two individuals enjoy talking with each other and have an enjoyable time with each other’s company.
With this complicated life that Madelyn lives, what will she do next?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“if i were you” is presented in 16:9, 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 Stereo with closed captioning. Picture quality is very good on DVD, didn’t notice any major compression artifacts and the dialogue and musical soundtrack was clear but is primarily front and center channel driven. I detected no major problems for video or audio during my viewing of the film.
“if i were you” comes with the following special features:
- Cast Interviews – (31:13) Interviews with Marcia Gay Harden, Leonor Watling, Joseph Kell, Aidan Quinn and Michael Therriault.
- Theatrical Trailer – The theatrical trailer for “if i were you”.
Joan Carr-Wiggin’s “if i were you” takes an old concept, of one finding out about their spouse’s affair but giving it a twist with the betrayed wife becoming friends with the mistress.
But I found it more surprising to find award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden with the main character role for a comedy, after decades of playing serious, dramatic roles.
If anything, Marcia has proven her versatility as an actress but with this film, it’s showing her ability to play something unique to her career and that is a playing a wife who can pull of the dramatic role of losing her mother and now losing a husband, but also a comedic role of being a friend to the mistress but somehow carrying on with life with anger, affecting her job but also winning the lead role to a theatrical play, accidentally.
The film plays off like an “odd couple” of Madelyn, a serious, business wife and Lucy, the sexually-driven, naive mistress, bad model and actress. But despite Madelyn hanging out with Lucy to have her steer clear from her husband, it’s having someone to talk to during her most difficult time that keeps her from associating with her than going all-mad-as-hell towards her. And the result of this new friendship is now making her husband jealous (because he thinks that Madelyn is having an affair behind his back) but most of all, letting her know how her husband and others have perceived of her.
But the primary positive of the film is Marcia Gay Harden’s versatility as an actress and to be truthful, the film benefits because of her ability to switch from dramatic to comedy, drunk to angry and we get to see the actress give a wonderful performance despite the film having scenes that seem unevenly paced, some scenes you wished had music (as the film had a little of that Nora Ephron-flair) to enlighten the mood. If anything, the film seems like a wild dream sequence but for the most part, I did enjoy the film and found it charming.
Overall, Joan Carr-Wiggin’s “if i were you” is a comedy that rides on the shoulders of Marcia Gay Harden’s acting performance. It’s not a great film but it’s an enjoyable and charming film worth watching.
“Little Fugitive” is one of those magical classics that you simply love because it captured American innocence. It captured the real actions of people at Coney Island and it also caught a glimpse of that Coney Island magic that no longer exists. But it’s also a wonderful American independent film that was inspiring to filmmakers because it showed how one can create a film, with not much money but yet have an impact on viewers all over the world. Delightful, entertaining and wonderful, Morris Engel’s “Little Fugitive” is highly recommended!
TITLE: Little Fugitive
FILM RELEASE: 1953
DURATION: 80 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, LPCM 2.0 Mono
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Directed by Ray Ashley, Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin
Written by Ray Ashley, Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin
Screenplay by Ray AShley
Produced by Ray Ashley, Morris Engel
Music by Eddy Lawrence Manson
Cinematography by Morris Engel
Edited by Ruth Orkin, Lester Troobe
Richard Brewster as Lennie
Winifred Cushing as Mother
Jay Williams as Pony Ride Man
Will Lee as Photographer
Charlie Moss as Harry
Tommy DeCanio as Charley
Richie Andrusco as Joey
Widely regarded as one of the most influential and enjoyable films of the American independent cinema, Little Fugitive is an utterly charming fable that poetically captures the joys and wonders of childhood. When a seven-year-old boy (Richie Andrusco) is tricked into believing he killed his older brother, he gathers his meager possessions and flees to New York’s nether wonderland: Coney Island. Upon and beneath the crowded boardwalk, Joey experiences a day and night filled with adventures and mysteries, resulting in a film that is refreshingly spontaneous and thoroughly delightful. ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE – BEST STORY (Original Screenplay)
For photographer Morris Engel, covering life was his job. As a combat photographer during World War II and an active Photo League member, he and his girlfriend at the time, fellow professional photographer Ruth Orkin (best known for her photo “American Girl in Italy”) and colleague, writer Raymond Abrashkin (who would go on to co-create/write the popular sci-fi series “Danny Dunn”), decided to create their own film titled “Little Fugitive”.
Created for only $30,000 with normal people as actors and shot on location in New York and a custom-made concealed strap-on 35 mm camera in Coney Island, “Little Fugitive” was created and would receive critical acclaim. And the creation of his own camera for filming would inspire other filmmakers to create their own cameras.
Even legendary French New Wave filmmaker Francois Truffaut has credited “Little Fugitive” as an inspiration to his 1959 masterpiece “The 400 Blows” and saying, “Our New Wave would never have come into being if it hadn’t been for the young American Morris Engel, who showed us the way to independent production with this fine movie.”
Considered as one of the most successful American independent films, “Little fugitive” would receive an Academy Award nomination for “Best Writing, Motion Picture Story” and a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
In 1997, “Little Fugitive” was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
In 2008, Kino released the Morris Engel box set which included his films “Little Fugitive”, “Lovers and Lollipops” and “Weddings and Babies”. And on March 2013, “Little Fugitive” received a Blu-ray release with the film mastered in HD from a 35 mm print preserved by the Museum of Modern Art with support from The Film Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts and the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.
“Little Fugitive” revolves around a seven-year-old boy named Joey (portrayed by Richie Andrusco). All Joey wants is to be around his older brother Lennie (portrayed by Richard Brewster) and show that he’s old enough to take part in the games with the neighborhood kids.
Because Lennie is celebrating his birthday, he plans to go out with his friends to Coney Island. But when he gets home, his mother receives bad news that their grandmother is not doing well. So, his mother (portrayed by Winifred Cushing) needs to leave for the day to visit her mother, while Lennie is reminded that he is the man of the house, since their father had died, and he must watch over Joey.
This upsets Lennie, because he really wanted to celebrate his birthday at Coney Island and wants to leave Joey behind, but his mother tells him that they will go to Coney Island some other time. But he must watch over Joey as she has to leave for a day. As for Joey, he teases his older brother that he can’t go without him.
When Lennie tells his friends that they are not going to Coney Island because he has to watch over Joey, the kids come up with a joke. To use a rifle and have Joey shoot the rifle and make him think that he killed his brother Lennie, and so Joey would go back home, while Lennie and the guys can go to Coney Island.
While the plan was a success, for young Joey, he now thinks he is a fugitive from the law because he killed his brother and decides to go to Coney Island alone. Missing his older brother and sad for what he thinks he had done, Joey tries to survive in Coney Island whichever way he can.
“Little Fugitive” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio) and in black and white. It’s important to remember that “Little Fugitive” is a low budget film that was made was a custom-made 35 mm camera that had its own issues during filming.
Having owned the previous DVD release from Kino, the main differences you will see is more detail and better contrast of whites and grays with better black levels. While the original print has not been cleaned up of its white specks, I’m not sure if the original print was even possible to have been cleaned of its imperfections but still, the picture quality is an improvement over its DVD counterpart. The film is mastered in HD from a 35 mm print preserved by the Museum of Modern Art with support from The Film Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts and the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.
For the most part, picture quality is very good, much better detail on the Blu-ray release as one would expect. The DVD also had some color fluctuations and was slightly darker but picture quality is definitely improved in this Blu-ray release.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Little Fugitive”is presented in LPCM 2.0 mono. It’s important to note that the film was shot and dialogue added later. Dialogue and music is clear. There is no noticeable hiss or pops during my viewing of the film. There are no English subtitles.
“Little Fugitive” features the following special features:
- Audio Commentary by Morris Engel - An insightful audio commentary by Morris Engel discussing the making of the film.
- Morris Engel: The Independent – (28:38) Featuring a 2008 documentary by Mary Engel about her father. Featuring his life and professional career with video of her father.
- Ruth Orkin: Frames of Life – (18:19) A 1995 documentary featuring the work of Ruth Orkin and audio featuring Ruth discussing her work.
- Theatrical Trailer – (1:52) The original theatrical trailer for “Little Fugitive”.
- Image Gallery – Featuring 16 images of promotional artwork to movie stills.
When I was a teenager, I used to watch “Little Fugitive” on cable television. Having searched for the film, after forgetting the title, by the time I would rediscover “Little Fugitive”, I was already in my 30′s.
With a big interest in French Nouvelle Vague and the work of Francois Truffaut, during my research one day about American independent films, I would discover a quote from Truffaut about a film titled “Little Fugitive” and how the film inspired him to create his independent masterpiece “The 400 Blows”.
Suffice to say, I was overjoyed to find out that the little boy who was in Coney Island turned out to be “Little Fugitive” and it has been one of my favorite releases from Kino and now this wonderful film has been released on Blu-ray.
I absolutely loved “Little Fugitive” as it not only captured the innocence of a child, but also the adventure through Coney Island, capturing on camera, the excitement of the area of that time.
While Coney Island has been marred through controversy and many discussions of revitalizing the area, while its heyday was before the 1940′s, “Little Fugitive” would still capture the amusement park in its glory before going through significant changes in the ’60s.
But the charm of the film is not just about capturing the heyday, but seeing Coney Island through the eyes of a seven-year-old boy. Yes, the film had a script and was carefully planned out, but its the ability to capture this natural feeling of a boy just enjoying his time at Coney Island and not acting as if he was in a film.
The film was also inspiring because filmmaker and cinematographer Morris Engel utilized a concealed 35 mm camera. I’ve seen concealed cameras used in French and Italian films but to see it employed in an American independent film and many people from Coney Island not knowing they are in the film, I thought that was pretty amazing, especially how he captured young actor Richie Andrusco, who seemed to have forgotten about the camera and just being a normal boy, the character of Joey now becoming real to viewer as the experiences were natural and felt real.
But this was guerrilla filmmaking on a budget and it’s amazing to see how much was captured and done for $35,000. Watching it now, you can’t help but be impressed.
As for the Blu-ray release, the special features are the same as the previous DVD. So, there is nothing new added. But with that being said, I know with this Blu-ray release, many fans will be introduced to Morris Engel’s work for the first time through “Little Fugitive”.
The audio commentary with Morris Engel was recorded before his death in 2005 and the commentary is just full of interesting facts. From how it was to work with the young Richie Andrusco and how he captured his personality for Joey with no need for direction, how the rifle scene was actually using a real rifle and Morris was terrified of filming that scene, how the drowning scene was real (and an explanation of why it was cut out of the TV version) and how Lennie’s line “You’re laying on my pants” was censored by the state of Ohio and much more.
The documentary “Morris Engel: The Independent” is also impressive as we see Engel reuniting with his young star Richie Andrusco many decades later, we see Engel’s career featured to celebrate his career, but also to celebrate his life years after his death. The same can be said for “Ruth Orkin: Frames of Life” which showcases the career of Ruth Orkin in a smaller 18 minute featurette.
As mentioned earlier, the Blu-ray does feature much better contrast and detail over its DVD counterpart.
Overall, “Little Fugitive” is one of those magical classics that you simply love because it captured American innocence. It captured the real actions of people at Coney Island and it also caught a glimpse of that Coney Island magic that no longer exists. But it’s also a wonderful American independent film that was inspiring to filmmakers because it showed how one can create a film, with not much money but yet have an impact on viewers all over the world.
Delightful, entertaining and wonderful, Morris Engel’s “Little Fugitive” is highly recommended!
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi have created a compelling, thought-provoking film that is important for people to see. “5 Broken Cameras” is highly recommended!
© 2011 Alegria, Inc. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: 5 Broken Cameras
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 90 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION:4:3 and 16:9, Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles
COMPANY: Kino Lorber Inc.
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: January 15, 2013
Directed by Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi
Produced by Emad Burnat, Christine Camdessus, Guy Davidi, Serge Gordey
Music by Le Trio Joubran
Cinematography by Emad Burnat
Edited by Guy Davidi, Veronique Lagoarde-Segot
Emad Burnat – Himself, Narrator
An extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, the footage was later turned into a galvanizing cinematic experience by co-directors Guy Davidi and Burnat. Structured around the violent destruction of a succession of Burnat’s video cameras, the filmmakers’ collaboration follows one family’s evolution over five years of village turmoil. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify, and lives are lost. ”I feel like the camera protects me,” he says, ”but it’s an illusion.”
The West Bank is a landlocked territory in which Palestinian Arabs and Jewish Israelis in Israeli settlements are currently living.
For hundreds of years, the West Bank was under Ottoman rule as part of the provinces of Syria but 1920, the Allied powers (which consisted off France, UK and the USA) allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine.
And since then, Arab and Israeli’s have engaged in war from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War (the second war which was in response to the UN Partition Plan), The Six-Day War of 1967 (the third Arab-Israeli War) as the countries fought for control of land which included the Gaza Strip, West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights. And would lead to the First Intifada (a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories from 1987-1993).
With the Israeli West Bank Barrier (a 26 ft. wall) being created, Israel argues that the barrier is necessary to protect their citizens form Palestinian terrorism, Palestinians argue that Israel is illegally attempting to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security and are violating international law. And for Palestinians who live nearby, they are being prevented to travel freely within the West Bank and have access to Israel.
Conflict would escalate in the Second Intifada and the Oslo War between 200o-2005, where thousands of people would be killed.
While Palestinians argued that that the Israel government was being stolen from them, the truth is that for us in America, while fighting in the Middle East was show on the news, to this day, many Americans are unsure why the people are fighting. And with both sides blaming each other for hostilities and war and an unsettling peace in the area still permeating through the region, for one man named Emad Burnat, he wanted to record on camera about what is happening in his country, his village and his people.
To back things up with factual evidence and document of how his home in Bil’in, a West Bank village is being threatened by Israeli settlements. The West Bank Barrier would be constructed through their agricultural land and in response, villagers and also Israeli and international activists would partake in non-violent demonstrations. As evidence seen from Emad’s camera, the soldiers and police did not react the same way.
An family man who bought his first camera in 2005, that year was bitter sweet as he saw the war destroy parts of his village, land being stolen and people in the village being affected by the Israeli who began building a wall in their area, but moving closer and closer and taking Palestinian land. At the same time, despite the sadness in his village, his fourth son Gibreel was born.
While Emad filmed his friends in nonviolent demonstrations against armed Israeli soldiers, Emad would film his children growing up, especially his young son Gibreel but also try to film and document the illegal seizure of land and but also the unfortunate treatment and murders of young and old in villages on the West Bank.
In the process of filming, Emad was able to capture what transpired in the area in five years he has been filming. With soldiers destroying his cameras and the camera saving his life from death, through this film, we see how each of the five cameras were broken or destroyed but also how people were treated by Israeli soldiers and police but also who, among his friends and family, who survives and who will lose their lives.
A powerful, important and compelling film by co-directors Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat and by Israeli filmmaker/editor Guy Davidi, watch the evolution of life in Bil’in but also death.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“5 Broken Cameras” is presented in 4:3 and 16:9. It’s important for people to know that the film was shot in various budget HD camcorders that Emad Burnat first bought himself in 2005 and then would gain access to more used cameras that were given to him by friends after each camera was destroyed, shot at. With that being said, thanks to the funding by the Greenhouse Development Project (a Mediterranean development project initiated by an Israeli foundation and sponsored by Europeans), the film would receive funding but also from French, Dutch, American, Canadian, Asian countries and Israeli television including the New Israel Fund.
“5 Broken Cameras” comes with the following special features:
- Keywords: A Short Film by Guy Davidi – (23:41) A film based on Guy Davidi’s articles.
- Interview with Emad Burnat – (8:02) Emad discusses why he filmed, why he wanted his film to be a movie and how he met and collaborated with Guy Davidi.
- Interview with Guy Davidi – (15:32) Guy Davidi talks about creating stories and working with Emad.
- Trailer – (1:56) The theatrical trailer for “5 Broken Cameras”.
- About Greenhouse – (9:32) A featurette about Greenhouse, an international documentary film workshop for people in the Mediterranean.
“5 Broken Cameras” is an important film and a risky form of activism that needs to be done, in order for people to see what is going on in other countries.
The problem is that many people do not survive the ordeal, arrested by governments and sometimes these activists are killed because they are seen as problematic to these other countries.
While I am not an erudite to the problems and the many years of war, tragic stories or problems that take place within the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, “5 Broken Cameras” is a film that gives us a visual and an understanding that the rights of these villagers in Bil’in are being affected by the illegal seizure of their land.
But what is most profound is the direction that Burnat and Davidi’s film captures. It captures family and how these villagers are like family to each other. They are not rich, they survive on the land thanks to the olive trees. Most of the time that these male villagers are planning are non-violent demonstrations. We see it for our own eyes, Israeli soldiers or even the police shooting at people holding demonstrations. We see tear gas raining in on not just Palestinians but also Israeli and foreign activists.
When Emad Burnat began shooting these videos that were taking place in his county, his footage was used by activists and put on YouTube to create awareness of what was happening in the area. But he also shot footage of his family especially his son Gibreel. Being born as a baby, speaking his first words but then seeing this young boy witness as he grows up in his young life, the acts against the soldiers and even being caught within the tear gas or smoke grenades that land around the protestors. And eventually seeing death to a person he knew, a passionate man who tried to protect his lands with words, not violence but yet was killed. We see the man, who is featured in the film quite a bit, being struck and killed instantly and seeing how everyone in the village mourns for the young man’s death.
But the young Gibreel shows us a boy born pure, innocent but yet seeing for his eyes of how his father and their friends but also young children are treated by the soldiers. Yes, even the young children group together to go in front of soldiers chanting how they want piece. Unfortunately, this leads to more problems as soldiers/police comb through neighborhoods at night, arresting children from their parent’s home.
To make matters worse, people being arrested for no apparent reason. Emad is filming with his camera, yet serves jail time for false reasons. Soldiers claiming he was shot with rocks.
We see a man being detained, blindfolded and Emad capturing on video, soldiers smiling and then shooting the man in the leg for no reason.
This is the injustice we see in Burnat’s film. And before I go on, it’s important to say that with any war, there are crimes committed on both sides. With my review, my intention is not to show that one side is better or one side is worst. But “5 Broken Cameras” is a compelling first-hand account of what is captured on camera by a normal family man. This is not faking anything, he just records what he sees and Israeli filmmaker, Guy Davidi helped compile this footage to show that Emad and the villagers were part of a movement that was necessary for people to see.
Living in America, we have our own problems may it be in our personal lives, our local area, the whole nation that we tend to gloss over situations that are happening in other countries. May it be the terrible living conditions in one country, disease or HIV afflicting families and a large village in another, or even atrocities that continue to happen today but we are only familiar with what is shown on the news for 2-3 minutes.
I personally never knew about these non-violent movements of villagers trying to protect their land. We know that people around the region have been fighting on this land for a very long time and many people throughout the various wars in the region have been killed.
But I really didn’t know the soldier’s tactics of trying to stop these villagers. From shooting at them, aiming their smoke grenades at them, burning their olive trees (a main source of their food), arresting their children at night. Yes, I’ms ure these soldiers did not like these protests but it’s terrible to see this happen for real. This is not a film about dramatization, this is a film capturing real-life events that Emad and his family have seen during the course of five years of turmoil.
This is not about the entire conflict of a region but just a part of it. But what Emad is able to capture on camera for those five years is surprising, heartbreaking but also opens your eyes on what these villagers must live through.
As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is good for the most part. The DVD also comes with Guy Davidi’s “Keywords: A Short Film” plus Kino Lorber’s special features with Ewad Burnat and Guy Davidi. Also, a short featurette on what Greenhouse is and the theatrical trailer for “5 Broken Cameras”.
I wish there were easy answers for people to live in peace but unfortunately war, the building of walls, illegal situations, terrorism and a few countries involved in the fray, along with these problems in addition to political ambition will continue to prevent any peace and its most unfortunate.
You see these children born so happy but yet they live where they hear grenades exploding, seeing their parents take part in active protests to protect their land and seeing love ones die. And this is not just with children, we see elderly also fight and try to protect their children.
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi have created a compelling, thought-provoking film that is important for people to see. “5 Broken Cameras” is highly recommended!
Wonderful acting, enjoyable storytelling and beautiful cinematography… What a wonderful remake from Daniel Auteuil and a homage to Marcel Pagnol’s work! “The Well-Digger’s Daughter” is recommended!
TITLE: The Well-Digger’s Daughter (La fille due puisatier)
FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 107 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with English Subtitles
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
Release Date: December 24, 2012
Directed by Daniel Auteuil
Based on the novel by Marcel Pagnol
Adaptation by Daniel Auteuil
Produced by Alain Sarde
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography by Jean-Fracois Robin
Casting by Coralie Armedeo, Elodie Demey
Costume Design by Pierre-Yves Gayraud
Daniel Auteuil as Pascal Amoretti
Kad Merad as Felipe Rambert
Sabine Azeme as Mme. Mazel
Jean-Pierre Darroussin as M. Mazel
Nicolas Duvauchelle as Jacques Mazel
Astrid Berges-Frisbey as Patricia Amoretti
Emilie Cazenave as Amanda
Marie-Anne Chazel as Nathalie
Coline Bosso as Isabelle
Chloe Malarde as Marie
Brune coustellier as Lemonore
Ilna Porte as Roberte
Twenty-five years after rising to international acclaim in Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring, Daniel Auteuil returns to the world of Marcel Pagnol for his first work as director with this celebrated remake of the 1940s classic. Auteuil stars as the eponymous well-digger Pascal, a widower living with his six daughters in the Provence countryside at the start of World War I. His eldest, Patricia (the luminous Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), has returned home from Paris to help raise her sisters, and Pascal dreams of marrying her off to his loyal assistant Felipe (Kad Merad). But when she’s impregnated by a wealthy young pilot (Nicolas Duvauchelle) who promptly abandons her for the frontlines, Pascal is left to contend with the consequences. An exquisitely crafted, sun-drenched melodrama, set to a score by Academy Award-nominee Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech), The Well-Digger’s Daughter captures all the warmth and humanist spirit of Pagnol’s original work.
The playwright, novelist turned filmmaker Marcel Pagnol will be remembered for his 1930′s romantic films such as “The Fanny Trilogy” (which consists of “Marius”, “Fanny” and “Cesar”).
An award-winning French filmmaker who worked on more than a dozen films, for many who grew up with his work, his work captured France in the early 20th Century. By 1940, Pagnol would go on to direct “La fille du Puisatier” (“The Well-Diggers Daughter”), a film that would would later catch the interest of actor Daniel Auteuil (“36th Precinct”, “Cache”, “Un Coeur en Hiver”, “The Valet”). An actor who also was once directed by Marcel Pagnol long ago for films such as “Jean de Florette” and “Manon of the Spring”.
So much that it would lead to Auteuil to write, direct and star in the 2011 remake of the film (Auteuil is currently working on the remake of “The Fanny Trilogy”). In collaboration with cinematographer Jean-Francois Robin (“Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud”, “Betty Blue”, “Chaos”) and composer Alexandre Desplat (“The King’s Speech”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1″), the film was well-received by film critics.
For those who have been waiting for a home video release of this film, “The Well-Digger’s Daughter” was released in the U.S. in Dec. 2012 courtesy of Kino Lorber on Blu-ray and DVD.
“The Well-Digger’s Daughter” is a film set before World War II, in the French countryside. The film begins with an 18-year-old named Patricia (portrayed by Astrid Berges-Frisbey, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, “The Sex of Angels”) who is delivering lunch to her father Pascal Amoretti (portrayed by Daniel Auteuil) and his helper Felipe Rambert (portrayed by Kad Merad, “The Chorus”, “22 Bullets”, “Welcome to the Sticks”).
To get from one side to another, Patricia must cross the river but a young wealth man named Jacques Mazel (portrayed by Nicolas Dauvauchelle, “White Material”, “Polisse), who’s family owns the land, decides to help Patricia by carrying her to the other side, despite Patricia not wanting anyone holding her. Also, for the fact that he is rich, she is poor.
With Patricia celebrating her birthday, even though she comes from a poor family, her father has been saving up to buy his daughter a new hat. Because she is getting older, Pascal is a traditional family man who has to raise six daughters since his wife’s death and works hard as a well-digger.
Another well-digger, but much younger, Felipe has always been happy when he sees Patricia come by. When Felipe asks if he can marry his daughter, Pascal will only say yes, if she wants to marry him but he has his blessing. Felipe tells Pascal that he has tickets to the air show and would like to ask Patricia to marry him. At first Patricia is not interested, knowing that her sister Amanda (portrayed by Emilie Cazenave) likes him. But for the sake of keeping him happy for her father and her sister, she agrees to go with him.
Back at the home of Jacques Mazel, we learn that Jacques is the child of a wealthy tool shop store owner M. Mazel (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Darroussin, “Le Havre”, “22 Bullets”, “A Very Long Engagement”) and has a mother, Mme. Mazel (portrayed by Sabine Azema, “Wild Grass”, “Smoking/no Smoking”, “Private Fear in Public Places”), who fears for her only son because he is a pilot in the military and a war is coming.
While at the air show, Felipe explains that his friend, a pilot gave him tickets to the air show and can’t wait to introduce Patricia to his good friend. When Felipe sees his friend, Jacques Mazel, Patricia realizes it is the same guy that helped carry her over the river the other day.
As Jacques sends Felipe to find a friend of theirs, both Jacques and Patricia have a conversation and wonders if she is engaged to Felipe, which she tells him no. Immediately, Jacques wants to spend time with her and tells her that if she wants to meet with him, to come up with a story that she has to meet with an aunt that lives near the city and tell that to Felipe, and so she can spend time with him briefly.
So, Patricia does just that and goes to join Jacques, while Felipe, looks at the opportunity for him to drink and gain some courage in telling Patricia that he wants to marry her.
Meanwhile, Jacques and Patricia are in the hotel room and immediately he begins kissing Patricia, who has never kissed anyone before. But she regrets it because she barely knows the man and she is a respectable daughter who should know better. Patricia is also a bit upset that Jacques came to her quite strong.
Patricia leaves to find Felipe and leave, because her curfew is 7:00 p.m. But Felipe is drunk and can’t get his car to start. Afraid that Pascal will get mad at him, he sees Jacques coming down the road with his motorcycle and asks him to please take Patricia home.
And as Jacques goes to take Patricia home, she tells him to stop and immediately, the two head out somewhere in the countryside and she wants to give herself to Jacques and the two make love.
Jacques tells Patricia that he wants to see her, but Patricia is afraid that the two are from both worlds but tells him, if she wants to see her again, she will wait for him near a monastery. And Jacques tells her that he will.
But when Jacques arrives home, he finds out that he must report to military duty immediately. Jacques tells his mother to please deliver a note to Patricia that he is unable to see her because of his military duties.
So, the following day, as Patricia waits near the monastery, Mme. Mazel sees her waiting but instead of giving her the letter, she decides to burn it.
Fastforward a month later and Felipe must now serve time in the military. He has a talk with Patricia about marrying him but she tells him that she can’t marry him, because she is pregnant with another man’s baby. A wealthy man who is gone for military duty and Felipe knows who it is. He tells her that her father will be upset but to save her honor, she can say it is his. But Patricia tells him that she intends to tell her father that she is pregnant.
When Patricia confronts her father about her pregnancy, he is shocked by it but still loves her.
By the next day, Pascal and his six daughters show up to the Mazel house to meet with Jacques parents. The Mazel’s are shocked of why would Pascal and his daughters come to visit but he tells them that Jacques was dating her son.
Mme. Mazel quickly thinks that Pascal is trying to blackmail the family and that many women go after their son.
But Pascal tells them that his daughter is pregnant and it is the right thing for a man to accept the responsibility for what their son has done. But the Mazel’s don’t see it that way and will not accept Patricia or the child.
Upset by the fact that now the son will be a bastard son with no father and his family want nothing to do with the child, it ruins his family’s honor. As the family head’s back home, he tells Patricia that because the father is not around and his family wants nothing to do with her and the child, the family honor of the Amoretti family has been shamed. As much as he loves his daughter, for the sake of her sisters, he tells Patricia that she must leave home and raise the child on her own. So, he sends her off to live with his sister, her aunt.
Fastforward several more months, Felipe has arrived for a short break from his military duties and he finds out that Jacques’s plane was shot down. While no body has been found, he is assumed to have been killed and the Mazel family are now distraught.
When he goes to visit Pascal and the family, he learns that Pacal wants Patricia invisible to the family and does not want anyone to mention her name. Surprised that Pascal has not even checked on his daughter and has burned all letters from her, he and Amanda decide to go on a trip to visit Patricia, but both come up with a story and tell Pascal that the two are going to a place to have some fun.
Pascal allows it but tells Felipe that he better make sure his car does not break down and let some guy in a motorcycle come and give his daughter a ride back home.
When the two arrive back home, Pascal knows that the two went to visit Patricia and he begins yelling at them. Felipe tries to explain that they wanted to see how she is doing and that he should care that now that he is grandfather of a boy. He shares the name of the father but also has the last name of the family, Amoretti.
This angers Pascal even more because the Amoretti name is an honorable name and should not go to a bastard son. So, Felipe tells him that if he doesn’t want that, he will marry Patricia and so, she can have his name.
This now gives Pascal a reason why to bring his daughter home but also make things right with the Amoretti name. So, he plans to visit Patricia and discuss plans for her to marry Felipe, but will she do it?
Meanwhile, what happens when the grieving parents of Jacques, want to be part of their grandson’s life?
“The Well-Digger’s Daughter” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The first thing you will notice is how beautiful the scenic shots are. Jean-Francois Robin takes a page from Marcel Pagnol’s writings of the countryside and capturing the beauty of the area, the flowers and the look of old France. The film showcases many colors during the outdoors, while the indoors looks amazing because of the amount of detail that can be seen.
Shot in 35 mm, picture quality is incredibly well-detailed. You can see the textures of the clothing, skin details, the film looks magnificent in HD.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Well-Digger’s Daughter” is presented in French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The film is dialogue-driven but the surround channels provide a good amount of ambiance for its countryside environment. You will hear the birds, during the air show, you can hear crowds. But what sticks out the most is the music. Alexandre Desplat’s music is absolutely beautiful and moving.
The film is presented with English subtitles.
“The Well-Digger’s Daughter” comes with trailers and 16 stills from the film.
I absolutely love Marcel Pagnol films. Its his way of covering romance and family, that is a style that makes me enamored with Yasujiro Ozu’s work. They have a unique style of capturing an era of their country that is of the past but relationships that are tied into family tradition and honor.
Sure, “The Well-Digger’s Daughter” can seem banal on paper, daughter gets pregnant, must tell parents and must raise child on their own. We’ve watched films like this, we’ve seen dramas about this.
But what makes this film so enchanting is how it centers around an old traditional family and how Pascal tries to keep his family’s honor by having the man’s family acknowledge her pregnancy and the baby. But to see how this loving father get dejected, lose his honor and essentially is forced to cut ties with his own daughter.
We also get to see the distinction of class differences, as Pascal is seen as a well-digger, Mme. Mazel is a woman who does not want her son mixing with poor women, and to why she burned the letter mean for Patricia, was it because she looked poor? Possibly.
But it’s that display of one’s guilt of getting pregnant before marriage and the inconvenience that was tied into the old traditions. Which may be hard for one to fathom in today’s world, of many single parents and where family honor especially in the family name, in most modern cultures, are a thing of the past.
The performances of the film are also quite notable. French actor Daniel Auteuil has starred in many films, but his role as Pascal, he manages to portray the aged, hardworking father with efficacy. Also, you have another talented actor in Jean-Pierre Darroussin as Jacques’ father and also actress Sabine Azema (partner of filmmaker Alain Resnais), playing Jacques domineering mother. The film features solid performances by these veteran talents and definitely makes this remake quite enjoyable.
While the film takes place during wartime and showcases an enjoyable romance melodrama, you can’t help but watch these films and yearn for the days of old. The storytelling of Marcel Pagnol that is able to fit in the complexities of old traditional values but also make it appealing and enjoyable for today’s audiences. While I have not seen the original “La Fille du puisatier” (as only a few Pagnol films have been released in America), for this remake, I absolutely enjoyed it.
Wonderful acting, enjoyable storytelling and beautiful cinematography… What a wonderful remake from Daniel Auteuil and a homage to Marcel Pagnol’s work! “The Well-Digger’s Daughter” is recommended!
“King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis” is a fantastic, important and inspiring documentary that gives viewers a chance to see Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his crusade to end segregation. Viewers will no doubt gain a better appreciation of King but also be inspired and knowing that through great adversity there is hope. Highly recommended!
© 2013 Kino Lorber, Inc. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1970
DURATION: 181 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION:Black and White, 1:33:1
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber Inc.
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: January 15, 2013
Conceived and Produced by Ely Landau
Directed by Sidney Lumet, Joseph L. Makiewicz
Produced by Ely A . Landau
Associate Producer: Richard Kaplan
Martin Luther King (archived footage)
James Earl Jones
Clarence Williams III
King: A Filmed Record…from Montgomery to Memphis is the landmark documentary that chronicles the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama, and culminating with his assassination in Memphis in 1968. Originally screened in theaters for only a single night in 1970, King: A Filmed Record combines dramatic readings by Harry Belafonte, James Earl Jones and Paul Newman, among others, with newsreel and archival footage to create a powerful and comprehensive record of Dr. King’s legacy and the American Civil Rights movement. King: A Filmed Record is an indispensable primary resource of a pivotal moment in American and world history.
On March 24, 1970, a three hour and five minute documentary known as “King: A Filmed Record…Montgomery to Memphis” was screened in theaters as a “one-time only” event.
The film was conceived and produced by Ely Landau (producer of “Long Day’s Journey into the Night”, “Hopscotch”, “The Holcraft Covenant”) and directed by Sidney Lumet (“12 Angry Men”, “Network”, “Dog Day Afternoon”) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (“All About Eve”, “Cleopatra”, “Guys and Dolls”).
At the time, the film cost $5 per admission price (which was very expensive in 1970) but the purpose of the screening was to raise money for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Special Fund.
While the documentary was later shown on commercial television, it would be released on home video featuring all celebrity narrations removed and the duration shortened to 1 hour and 43 minutes.
The documentary was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Documentary” and was deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress and in 1999, was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
The Library of Congress in association with Robert Kaplan utilized film elements provided by the Museum of Modern Art to remaster the film in its entirety in HD from the original 35 mm preservation negative.
And now the monumental film was released on DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.
“King: A Filmed Record…Montgomery to Memphis” documents the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1955 to 1968. The documentary is not about covering all of the incidents of that period but events were chosen for their historical importance and impact they had on people’s lives at the time.
Because of the authenticity of the film, certain sequences have been used in spite of defects in technical quality.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
It’s important for people to remember that his is a documentary that tries to showcase a lot of footage from a variety of sources to showcase incidents from 1955 through 1968. Some footage look better than others, those that don’t will feature text but audio can be heard or changing images.
“King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis” is presented in 1:33:1 black and white. You will see occasional white specks and dust pop up on the video but the scenes with narrations still shows grays and whites well-contrast while the remaster shows much better detail than the older abridged version that was released on home video many years ago.
So, one should not come to expect pristine video but you will see footage from that era in time, incidents that possibly many people have never seen in their lives, featured on this documentary. Important scenes, inspirational scenes but also scenes of prejudice, racism and heartbreak. But you will also see scenes of hope.
Audio also varies but for the most part, dialogue is clear, no major problems with audio, no major pops or significant hiss.
For the most part, the remastering of this monumental documentary was well-done and this remastered looks much better than what aired on television and the previous home video version and it’s uncut!
“King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis” does not come with any special features.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an American clergyman and the most recognized leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, in order to show the importance of King’s role in the advancement of civil rights, you need to go as far back as in 1955 when he led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and began preaching for nonviolent protests.
These protests attracted national attention thanks to television news coverage as it would show the charismatic and intelligently spoken individual doing all he can to motivate and inspire people against segregation.
“King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis” is presented in its entirety on video for the first time. Because it is three hours long is split into two discs right at the documentary’s intermission.
The first half of the documentary shows us how there were radical Black leaders who preached violence and a juxtaposition showing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preaching about how to use power but with non-violence and while other Black leaders were against all White men and preaching Black power, King made the point that there are White people in the United States trying to end segregation and wanting to see Black people free and believed that together, people should work together to solve the problem.
And as there were radical Black leaders who preached the use of violence because it is a war, Dr. Martin King, Jr. preached that he would not go so low to perpetuate evil and participate in the conflict of the war because he was tired of evil, hate and will not resort to violence.
We see the organized protests that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many Black people took part in. As law enforcement continue to uphold the segregation laws, we see the reaction of the local people towards Blacks when they enter their restaurants, cafes, waiting rooms, lunch counters which are supposed to be segregated. Politicians ask for King to leave Alabama as he has become a menace to society but King and many followers continue to go to these locations where police await to arrest them. Many Black and White are seen being arrested during these non-violent protests.
But we also see violence as the KKK begin attacking Black churches and despite the violence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to preach for peace and that the nation will see what is happening in the state of Alabama. Martin Luther King, Jr’s presence in Birmingham, Alabama was important as it was teh most segregated city in the United States at the time and also had the most violent KKK chapter. Many unsolved bombings, many Black people terrorized and killed for decades but nothing being done about it.
And we see the brutality as captured by news, from soldiers and officers attacking Black people, while many Blacks continue to show their protest through non-violent means. And how jails were packed and filled with Black people (children and adults). And the non-violent protests was important in Dr. Martin Luther King’s march to stop segregation and get many to organize for freedom of all Black people.
Instrumental because people saw Black people singing, not fighting but yet many off them being attacked by police with their batons, police dogs being sent to bite on protestors, gas being shot out to innocent people and water being shot on them by the fire department. We can hear the screams of adults, women, children as they are being sprayed by heavy water and knocked to the ground. Some trying to hide behind trees or buildings. Shocking visual images that were captured on video for the nation to see.
But the nation got to see the ugly side of racial injustice in Birmingham in 1963 as four young girls on their way to Sunday school at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and were killed by dynamite ignited by white supremacists (23 people were also hurt by the blast). During the funeral, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. still asks people to love thy neighbor and love thy enemy and to pray for them. A side note to this tragic incident, to show the injustice to those children who were killed and people who were injured, the KKK member responsible for this incident was arrested but was found not guilty of murder and received a hundred-dollar fine and a six-month jail sentence. It wasn’t until 1977 until this man was retried and found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. It wasn’t until 2000 that the FBI announced that the bombing was carried out by a KKK splinter group and four people were responsible for the crime.
The first half of the documentary would end with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” public speech delivered in August 1963 in which he called for an end to racism in the United States. Where 250,000 civil rights supporters gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The speech is seen as the defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.It was also a speech that inspire people throughout America at that time but also for many generations.
The second half begins in October 1964 as King receives the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. And then we see news footage in Selma, Alabama in 1965 as Black people gathered to vote as part of their silent protest. White officials tell the Black people to get down from the steps and warning them they must get off the steps and then police coming to push people off with their batons led by Sheriff Jim Clark, while media are filming.
The footage then goes to the day known as “Bloody Sunday” (March 7, 1965). We then see an anti-violent protest that became violent when Alabama State Troopers began attacking the protestors on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the outskirts of Selma. The ABC news footage that was shown to 48 million of Americans is seen as innocent people were being beaten.
Two days later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. along with both Black and white supporters went to the Edmund Pettus Bridge for a peaceful protest march which featured 2,500 people as they walked all the way to Montgomery from Selma.
On March 21st, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. organized another peaceful protest march which featured 8,000 people. While Sheriff Clark continued to be interviewed showcasing his button for “Never Integrating” and calling the Black people communists. It’s important to note that Sheriff Jim Clark was one of the most vocal individuals opposed to racial integration and the only Sheriff who donned military style clothing and carried a cattle prod.
This footage would lead to March 25th when Dr. King gave his “How Long, Not Long” speech to 25,000 people gathered at the steps of the State Capital Building. Which would lead to President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the second civil rights bill, the Voting Rights Act, outlawing the discrimination in voting and allowing millions of southern blacks to vote for the first time.
The next footage would feature Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. headed to Chicago. But unlike the south, efforts to have a peaceful protests would become dangerous as the “Chicago Freedom Movement” (a coalition of 44 civil rights organizations working to end slums and improve living conditions for Blacks in the city) was not as well-received in Chicago than the South. It’s important to note that Jesse Jackson, a seminary student at the time, was in charge of organizing peaceful marches to fight for civil rights for housing but also targeting chain stores that did not deal fairly to Blacks.
The footage would show large gathering of White people in the all-white neighborhood of Marquette Park, making it known that they did not want Black people in their area. It was this march where we King being hit by a brick that was thrown to his direction and telling the news media, “I have seen many demonstrations int he South, but I have never seen anything so hostile and so hateful as I’ve seen here today”.
But unlike the south where the KKK, police and state troopers were causing problems, in Chicago, we see many white people with signs to exterminate all Blacks and with flags of swastikas promoting white power.
We also see Dr. King opposing the Vietnam War and then taking part in the “Poor People’s Campaign” in 1968 as King would travel the country to assemble a “multiracial army of the poor” that would march on Washington to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress created an “economic bill of rights” for poor Americans.
So, on March 29, 1968, Dr. King went to Memphis, Tennessee, in support of the Black sanitary public works employees (Black street repairman received pay for two hours when they were sent home because of bad weather, white employees were paid for the full day).
On April 3, after King addressed a rally with his speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” at the Mason Temple, King was kept in Memphis because of a bomb threat against his plane.
The footage would then go to the night of April 4th during a gathering for a concert for Duke Ellington, Robert Mosely who produced the show, came out to tell the audience that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in Tennessee and announcing that King had died.
The film would then end with the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A documentary that showcased important events of King’s activism from 1955-1968, the film also showcases celebrities with inspiring speeches about what was going on in America. From powerful and inspiring words from Harry Belafonte, James Earl Jones, Clarence Williams III, Charlton Heston and many more celebrities.
Ely Landau’s “King” is a powerful, inspiring documentary which I have watched countless times but for the very first time, to watch it uncut thanks to the wonderful restoration by the Library of congress, in association with Richard Kaplan, and the film elements provided by the Museum of Modern Art.
This is a monumental documentary about one man who was able to inspire thousands of people through non-violent action which in turn, would be seen by millions of people across the country.
President Jimmy Carter gave an eloquent speech back in 1977 when he awarded King posthumously with the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” and in his citation read, “Martin Luther King, Jr., was the conscience of his generation. He gazed upon the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to fulfill the promises of our founding fathers for our humblest citizens, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream for America. He made our nation stronger because he made it better. His dream sustains us yet.”
And I truly believe and know that King continues to inspire people today.
Overall, “King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis” is a fantastic documentary that gives viewers a chance to see Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his crusade to end segregation. Viewers will no doubt gain a better appreciation of King but also be inspired and knowing that through great adversity there is hope.
“King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis” is highly recommended!
“College” is an entertaining Buster Keaton comedy. It’s not his best silent film and its three-shot epilogue may seem unnecessary to audiences but at the same time, Keaton able to defy his own cliched endings of the past and possibly a scene that revealed more about the actor’s own personal life and outlook of his own marriage. But I look at “College” as the rebound film after the box office failure of “The General” and giving audiences what they wanted at the time, a straightforward comedy lacking anything deep but still able to produce laughs. For Keaton fans or the new fans of silent cinema on HD, “College” is recommended.
FILM RELEASE: 1927
DURATION: 64 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1, B&W, LPCM 2.0 Stereo
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Directed by James W. Horne
Story by Carl Harbaugh, Bryan Foy
Cinematography by Bert Haines, Devereaux Jennings
Edited by Sherman Kell
Buster Keaton as Ronald, the Son
Florence Turner as the Mother
Anne Cornwall as Mary Haynes, The Girl
Flora Bramley as Her Friend
Harold Goodwin as Jeff, the Rival
Snitz Edwards as The Dean
Carl Harbaugh as Crew Coach
Sam Crawford as Baseball Coach
Buster Keaton goes back to school and stages a hilarious send-up of university life in College. Keaton stars as Ronald, an idealistic freshman who attends Clayton College in pursuit of higher learning, but finds himself instead embroiled in a war of athletics as he fights for the heart of his beloved coed, Mary (Anne Cornwall).
More than he had in any other feature, Keaton stretched the boundaries of solo physical comedy. In a series of unforgettable vignettes, stone-faced Ronald tries his hand as a baseball player, soda jerk, waiter, coxswain, and track star, performing each task with a steady determination but with consistently disastrous results. These scenes are especially amazing because in demonstrating Ronald’s athletic inadequacies, Keaton reveals a surprising degree of physical prowess and finesse, particularly during the film’s exhilarating climax.
In 1927, the year was a major year for silent cinema. With the release of F.W. Murnau’s “Faust” and Harold Lloyd’s “Little Kid Brother”, while released in 1926, in January 1927, Buster Keaton’s “The General”, his most expensive film yet, would be release and would perform poorly at the box office.
While “The General” is regarded as Keaton’s true masterpiece, back in 1927, people felt the film was too dramatically heavy and not the comedy they were used to seeing from the actor. Also, many audiences who had parents who lived or were born during the civil war did not see how one could make a comedy about one of the bloodiest wars on American soil.
The result from the failure of “The General” was that studio moguls felt they could put their trust in Buster Keaton for cinematic ideas. His marriage with Natalie Talmadge was suffering, he was drinking more and spending a lot of his own savings on building an Italian villa in Beverly Hills.
So, his next film would be “College”, a film that was not directed or written by Buster Keaton. While considered a good, entertaining Buster Keaton film, it’s also considered as his weakest film. But people wanted the old Buster Keaton that would deliver many laughs and “College” was a film that provided that for audiences and more physical comedy the following year with “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”.
But what “College” provides cinema fans today is an earlier look at the University of Southern California (USC) and the old UCLA building which later became Los Angeles City College. The film would also be one of the few silent athletic films after Keaton’s “Battling Butler” and Harold Lloyd’s 1925 football film “The Freshman”.
And now “College” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber in March 2013.
“College” is a film about Ronald (portrayed by Buster Keaton) who is the “most brilliant scholar” graduating from high school. He is not popular like the jocks at school, especially the popular and athletic Jeff (portrayed by Harold Goodwin) but he is in love with Mary Haynes (portrayed by Anne Cornwall), the winner of every popularity contest in which the boys were allowed to vote, and wishes she would recognize him.
Unfortunately, after a mishap with his clothes, during his graduation speech titled “the Curse of the Athlete”, Ronald talks badly about athletics and how books are much more important which upset his fellow graduating class including Mary who vows not to recognize Ronald until he accepts sports.
As Mary and Jeff plan to go to Clayton college which the dean calls it a “athlete-infested college”, Ronald decides he wants to attend Clayton, even though his mother doesn’t have the money to put him through college, he would work odd jobs to help pay for it.
While at Clayton, Mary ignores Ronald (who is dating Jeff) and to make things worse, his dorm roomates are Jeff and a few jocks that like to intimidate and make fun of Ronald.
And while Dean Edwards (portrayed by Snitz Edwards) hopes that Ronald would bring his intelligence to Clayton, instead Ronald tries to join up with the sports teams.
Not knowing a thing about sports, he joins the baseball team and the track team. He fails miserably with each sports but Mary has been watching him afar and is proud that he is putting the effort and trying to be an athlete, which she respects. But because of his lack of athletic skill, he is often bullied by the athletes.
But when Dean Edwards talks to Ronald about why he is failing his classes, he tells him the truth. He loves Mary and because she thinks he’s weak, he has been focusing on sports.
The Dean sympathizes with Ronald because the same thing happened to him and that is why he is still a bachelor. Feeling bad for Ronald he tells the rowing coach that Ronald will now be the member of the competition team and will be the coxswain for their rowing team.
And with this opportunity, will it be enough for Ronald to win Mary’s heart?
“The Coach” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio, black and white). The film has been remastered in HD from 35mm archival elements. Having owned the previous DVD version, this Blu-ray release of “College” is quite literally the best looking version of the film available and for an 86-year-old film, Kino Lorber has once again done a spectacular job on a silent film release on Blu-ray.
Before I discuss the picture quality of “College”, it’s important to note that because this is a silent film, it’s important to emphasize that each silent film has been handled and stored differently. With that being said, I also want to add that there are only so many very good silent films still around, many destroyed from fires started by the Nitrate film or mishandling (or improper storage). Fortunately, a good number of Keaton films have strong film elements that have led to Kino International wanting to release more Keaton films on Blu-ray and to also make sure the film has not been digitally tampered.
Presented in 1080p High Definition, black and white, yes, the film is not pristine (no silent film in HD will be) looking as it does have scratches, dust, hair and other damage that the film has gone through within the last 86-years. But this is to be expected, if anything, many silent films on nitrate were not well taken care of, so each time I see a film in which the films are much better than I expect, I’m quite pleased and for “College” in HD, it’s definitely a major improvement over its original DVD counterpart.
I have watched many silent films that have had considerable nitrate damage but this film still looks fantastic for its age and you will not see the nitrate damage or acid buildup in the film’s sides. Yes, it’s not pristine but it’s the best looking version of the film that I have seen so far. You will see white specks, occasional scratches but the grays and whites are well-contrast, solid black levels and detail is much more apparent on the Blu-ray release.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“College” is presented in uncompressed linear PCM 2.0 and features the original organ arrangement by John Muri, that was on original DVD release. Granted, this is an uncompressed version and Muri did a wonderful job with the organ arrangement.
“College” come with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary - Featuring a well-detailed audio commentary by film historian and Slapsticon founder Rob Farr.
- Tour of Filming Locations – (9:55) An adaptation of “Silent Echoes” author John Bengston showing viewers of how locations for “College”, as seen on the film, looks today.
- The Scribe - (29:29) 1966 Construction Safety Association of Ontario industrial short starring Buster Keaton. In one his final appearances on film before his death.
“College” comes with a slipcase.
“College” is a formulaic film by Buster Keaton, always known for playing the underdog characters trying to win the girl that he loves.
But unlike his previous films, what makes “College” stands out for viewers today is its comedic charm, less of Keaton flair but also historic shots of an earlier Los Angels and its multiple campuses and features the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum which was built several years earlier.
It’s also a film in which partakes in racial humor which was acceptable for its time will not win many people today as Keaton is in black face trying to pretend he is Black in order to get a job. And also showcasing a woman, who is unable to barely live on her own without a man (unlike “The Navigator” or “The General”), which again is a sign of the time. And the former done without malice, while the latter is how women were portrayed in many films at the time. Females often portrayed as the damsel in distress.
And last, it’s a film that could have ended happily with simple banality, but unlike previous Keaton films that show a happily ever after, perhaps it was part of the original story by Carl Harbaugh and Bryan Foy or something inspired by Keaton’s own failing marriage, it strays from a formulaic approach and ends with man and woman ala tombstone.
But while Buster Keaton did not write or direct “College” it still has a lot of charm and humor. It’s not the death defying, risky stunts that Keaton is known for but its a character that has no athletic skill or knowledge, trying to partake in a baseball game, thinking he can be just as good as the track athletes but each time we watch him fail, it’s how he fails that make audiences laugh. But also how he tries to be cool whenever he sees Mary, may it be on the field as an athlete or during a part-time job, Keaton is actively wanting to do this for his love, Mary. But its the character of the underdog that people rally around for and wanting this individual to overcome adversity by the film’s end. We know how Keaton films end, we enjoy the journey of how that character becomes the hero.
“College” is a fun film and among the “collegiate” sports films, this and Harold Lloyd’s “The Freshman” are possibly the most well-known. But I suppose in 1927, perhaps it was a tired trend as even critic Carl Sandburg remarked in his review of the film, “Judging from the films that the studios are putting out, Hollywood is done and the University of California has taken its place. How the professors at the university can conduct classes with Richard Barthelmess kissing coeds in the hallways, Bebe Daniels in a bathing suit kicking the president soundly and Buster Keaton bounding through the classroom windows with Snitz Edwards in comic pursuit something to be imagined”.
But possibly the most stinging review for “College” is from one of the biggest supporters and reviewers of Keaton films, Daniel Moews, in his 1977 book “Keaton: The Silent Features Close Up”.
Moews writes, “The blacks, however, are simply accepted throughout as unacceptable, with no chance of ever being included in the hero’s world. They and not he are the true outsiders in the films, existing in segregated state, a state most clearly revealed in the several gags where their being momentarily mistake for a socially acceptable person is intended to be incongruous, impossible and wonderfully funny. A more description of these gags, which are also unpleasantly tainted by anti-Semitism, will demonstrate Keaton’s almost automatic reliance on repressive ethnic stereotypes to product what at that time were easy laughs”.
But Moews does add that to understand the portrayal of racial stereotypes or even how women were presented in his film, Moews wrote, “it was also a time of derisive ethnic stereotyping, of ethnic separatism and mistrust”.
Also writing, “a point to repeat and remember, however, is that the only seemingly real person in most of the films is the hero, with nearly everyone else reduced to an extra, a romantic or a comic type or an ethnic joke, and never intended to be viewed more than that”.
And I have to echo Moews sentiment. In today’s day and age, no one wants to see people doing a black face routine and no one wants to see females characters who are portrayed as weak women. But society has evolved so much since 1927 and I approach this film as one part comedy but also one part of a historic time capsule. To see how stereotypes were featured in cinema but also its ending to see how Keaton deviates from portraying a couple from his past films. But I also see this film for showcasing Los Angeles in 1927 and many structures that are no longer there and structures that are still around. So, I look at “College” as a film that signals how things were at the time for American cinema.
As for the Blu-ray release, “College” looks so much better than the original DVD release. The whites and grays are well-contrast, the blacks levels are nice and deep and while not pristine, it just looks so much better, no blurring or DNR, Kino presents the film in HD, remastered from 35mm archival elements and presents the film as is.
The inclusion of John Bengston’s visual essay on film locations are always a plus for these new Keaton releases, the audio commentary by Mr. Farr, creator of Indiana-based silent film festival Slapsticon, is wonderful as he is a person with wonderful insight on silent film. The Blu-ray release of “The Scribe”, one of the last filmed performances of Buster Keaton from 1966 is amazing in the fact that we see a late performance included with a Keaton silent release but at the same time, sad in the fact that we know this is a Keaton who was ill that year and was unaware he was dying of cancer.
Overall, “College” is an entertaining Buster Keaton comedy. It’s not his best silent film and its three-shot epilogue may seem unnecessary to audiences but at the same time, Keaton able to defy his own cliched endings of the past and possibly a scene that revealed more about the actor’s own personal life and outlook of his own marriage. But I look at “College” as the rebound film after the box office failure of “The General” and giving audiences what they wanted at the time, a straightforward comedy lacking anything deep but still able to produce laughs.
For Keaton fans or the new fans of silent cinema on HD, “College” is recommended.
Cheney’s performance in “The Penalty” is impressive even today, over 90-years-later, how one actor can perform a role with so much pain but yet give a commanding performance is a testament to how amazing an actor he was during that era. And it’s a gangster film that probably was dark and terrifying for its time. “The Penalty” on Blu-ray is recommended!
TITLE: The Penalty
FILM RELEASE: 1920
DURATION: 87 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1, Color tinted, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.0 Stereo
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Directed by Wallace Worsley
Adaptation of the novel by Gouverneur Morris
Scenario by Charles Kenyon
Cinematography by Don Short
Charles Clary as Dr. Ferris
Doris Pawn as Barbary Nell
Jim Mason as Frisco Pete
Lon Chaney as Blizzard
Milton Ross as Lichtenstein
Ethel Grey Terry as Rose
Kenneth Harlan as Dr. Wilmot Allen
Claire Adams as Barbara Ferris
In a role that established him as one of the most dynamically terrifying performers of the silent screen, Lon Chaney (The Phantom of the Opera) stars in The Penalty, a grotesque thriller form director Wallace Worsley (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). When an incompetent doctor amputates the legs of a young boy, he has no idea that the youth will grow up to be the immoral and embittered Blizzard, a criminal mastermind who orchestrates a bizarre and heinous plot to avenge himself upon his malefactor.
Lon Chaney, an actor known for taking on the roles of characters that were tortured or grotesque and known for horror silent films such as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “The Unknown” and “Laugh, Clown, Laugh”.
Known as “The Master of Makeup”, Chaney has a long list of films in his oeuvre dating back to 1912, but it wasn’t until 1919 in which Chaney would receive acclaim as The Frog in “The Miracle Man” (unfortunately, the full version of this film is lost, only a few minute footage which is included on the Blu-ray release) but it was in 1920 in which Chaney would star in the crime drama, “The Penalty” and solidify his status as one of the most popular actors in America and not a one-hit wonder.
The film would also captivate audiences as Chaney, playing a double leg amputee, using a leather harness to strap his two lower legs behind his thigh to two buckets. While using crutches, he was able to take part in stunts without the use of his legs and feet. So painful for Lon Chaney to play this role, he could only do this for short periods of time.
Based on a pulp novel by Gouverneur Morris (which you can read online here), the film directed by Wallace Worsley and written by Philip Lonergan would be one of the few silent films starring Lon Chaney that many silent film fans have had watched on home video thanks to Kino (who released the original DVD back in 2001).
And in October 2012, Kino Lorber has released “The Penalty” on Blu-ray. Remastered in HD from the 35 mm restoration by the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department. The film is color tinted according to the surviving instructions and features a new musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra in 2.0 stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio.
“The Penalty” begins with a boy who was involved in an accident and we see a young doctor named Dr. Ferris (portrayed by Charles Clary) awaiting for a senior doctor to come by. Unfortunately, with the senior doctor, Dr. Wilmot Allen (portrayed by Kenneth Harlan) having not arrived, the young doctor decides to cut off the boys legs in hopes to save him. By the time the senior doctor arrives, he is shocked by what the young doctor has done and told him she shouldn’t have done that. Now the young boy’s life has been ruined.
The two doctors are unaware that the boy has awakened and is listening to their conversation. When the doctors bring the parents in to explain what has happened, the boy tries to tell his parents that he heard their discussion but the senior doctor tells the parents, the boy is dreaming things up and it’s the effects of the ether. The boy knows what he has heard but the parents believe the doctor’s explanation.
Fast forward years later and the film is now taking place in San Francisco. We see a young woman named Barbara Nell with a drunk, sleeping man and stealing his wallet. Meanwhile, another criminal named Frisco Pete watches. He approaches the woman, steals her necklace and kills her in front of all these people.
As the criminal leaves, he runs into a man without any legs or feet named Blizzard (portrayed by Lon Chaney) and Blizzard hides Frisco.
We learn that Blizzard has power in the city. An evil man who is so corrupt, he has corrupt police officers working alongside with him. He is a man that the police have been trying to nail down for murder, arson and many ther crimes but each time, Blizzard as alluded them.
Word has gotten to the police that Blizzard is up to something bad and it involves showgirls that he has them working as hat-makers for some unknown reason. They need to find a way in by using a spy and so, they look to one of their best agents, Rose (portrayed by Ethel Grey Terry) to infiltrate Blizzard’s business and disguise herself as a showgirl working for him.
Meanwhile, we see the cruelty of Blizzard as he goes to check on the girls and seeing how badly they are working on the hats, grabbing one woman by the hair and pulling it with all his might and screaming at them. Also, letting them know what happened to Barbara Nell, an escapee of Blizzard’s business and how she is dead.
We are then introduced to Barbara Ferris (portrayed by Claire Adams), daughter of Dr. Ferris (who amputated the legs of Blizzard), who is an artist/sculptor. Her next major sculpture is the fall of Satan and needs someone to be a model. So, she advertises in the newspaper and seeing the name of who is involved, Blizzard decides that he wants no one but himself to be the model. And so, he can exact his revenge on the Doctor and his daughter.
As for Rose, she becomes one of Blizzard’s top employees but as she is supposed to infiltrate and provide recon to the police, she finds herself being captivated by Blizzard’s charms.
As for Blizzard, what happens when he becomes captivated with Barbara Ferris?
“The Penalty” is presented in 1080p High Definition and remastered in HD from the 35 mm restoration print from the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department and is color tinted according to the surviving instructions. It’s important for people to know that Kino is not a company that cleans up their films but presents the film in high definition as provided to them. They choose films with the best print and so, you can expect prints to have some damage, tears and white specks and occasional hair or dirt that was made permanent during the restoration (at the time, many companies restored the nitrate print by converting it to 35 mm but with all defects included).
Fortunately for “The Penalty”, the film is not in bad shape at all. There are visible splicing, color tinting was a tad bit saturated at times and there are white specks but for the most part, I was quite pleased of watching this film in HD and seeing more detail as opposed to the 2001 DVD which had DNR but also a bit of blurring. But the contrast is good and I saw no major issues when it comes to artifacts or any significant errors. I’m confident that this Blu-ray release will be the definitive version of “The Penalty” to see for quite some time.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Penalty” features a new musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra in 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. I’m always a fan of Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra’s work and I enjoyed their score for this Blu-ray release of “The Penalty”.
The music is fantastic and sounds amazing, crisp and clear via its lossless soundtrack. Rodney Sauer wrote on Nitrateville.com, “Mont Alto’s score for ‘The Penalty’ — after our previous score for ‘Les Vampires’ — has had us wallowing in melodrama for most of 2012. But we really like this kind of music, it gives us a great opportunity for emotional playing. This Blu-Ray is also our first recording with my newly acquired Kawai grand piano, though in most of these arrangements, the piano ends up pretty buried. When Lon plays his piano on-screen, you’ll hear it a little more to the front. Grand pianos are very inspiring to play, but can be difficult to record.”
“The Penalty” come with the following special features:
- Chaney’s Secrets Revealed - (9:33) Author Michael F. Blake gives a video tour of Chaney’s actual make-up case and the costume he wore in “The Penalty”.
- “By the Sun’s Rays” – (11:27) A Lon Cheney one-reel western.
- The Miracle Man- (2:37) The only surviving footage of Lon Chaney’s breakthrough 1919 feature “The Miracle Man”.
- Lon Chaney Trailers - Featuring a trailer for “The Big City” and “While the City Sleeps”.
“The Penalty” comes with a slipcase.
As I tried to put myself in the shoes of those who must have watched this film in 1920, I can certainly see how this film would be chilling to viewers. A dark and somewhat evil character, Lon Chaney’s Blizzard shows viewers the cruelty of the underworld.
Viewers get to see how Blizzard is feared as he rules with an iron fist, he has show girls forcibly working under him and how his temper can easily flare to the point of hurting another woman with not so care in the world and the fact that he has this power, he gives this evil grin that surely is a predecessor of the evil grin that Jack Nicholson is known for in his chilling films such as “The Shining”.
And while people die in this film, it also is quite interesting to see how police are featured in the film. The criminals are always a step ahead of the police, so their best chance is Rose, an agent sent to infiltrate Blizzard’s operations and manages to do it.
While some may see this as a positive role for a woman officer in an early silent film, unfortunately, while she is successful to infiltrate and do her own recon, she makes a key mistake which gives herself away. To make things worse, she falls for Blizzard’s charms and is torn between duty and love for him. So, much that when he plays the organ, Rose kneels down to play the piano’s pedals for him.
There are quite a few scenes that are implausible and personally, there are times that I wondered that if all these women do not like to be treated so badly, what stops dozens of them from getting revenge as he is a man with no feet and on crutches. Suffice to say, this is one of those films one shouldn’t think hard of why these people do not do things this way or that way, just think of Blizzard as this evil power that men and women fear, despite his physical disability.
But what makes this film so entertaining is to see Lon Cheney giving an amazing performance. A man who had to undergo tremendous pain just to walk on his knees and take part in many stunts, I was just amazed of how much he was able to accomplish. But it’s his performance that the film rides on his shoulders and he manages to succeed and making the film worth one’s time to watch. And the scene of Blizzard posing as satan is quite creepy.
As for the Blu-ray release, for silent film fans, to have a silent Lon Cheney film on Blu-ray is fantastic, considering his breakthrough film “The Miracle Man” is lost. But it’s great to see the surviving footage of the film included on this Blu-ray plus one of his earlier shorts from 1914, the western “By the Sun’s Rays” included as well. Especially a video tour of Chaneys’ actual makeup case and his costume used on “The Penalty”.
Picture quality on this Blu-ray release is much better in detail and contrast over its 2001 DVD counterpart and the new score in lossless audio by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra is well-done.
Overall, Cheney’s performance in “The Penalty” is impressive even today, over 90-years-later, how one actor can perform a role with so much pain but yet give a commanding performance is a testament to how amazing an actor he was during that era. And it’s a gangster film that probably was dark and terrifying for its time.
“The Penalty” is another welcomed addition to the George Eastman House titles on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber. And to have a silent Lon Cheney film on Blu-ray is another win for silent film fans who have wanted to see more silent films featuring other notable talents in HD. And one can hope that Kino Lorber continues bringing more films with other silent film stars on Blu-ray!
As for this Blu-ray, “The Penalty” is recommended!
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is known to be a bad film. But it’s also enjoyed by its fans because that it’s become an annual Christmas favorite because of its Christmas sci-fi nature and kitschiness. So, for those who grew up watching this film will probably want to own it on Blu-ray. If you are a fan of the film, this Blu-ray is for you!
TITLE: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
FILM RELEASE: 1964
DURATION: 81 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1, Widescreen, Monaural, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Horizon Movies
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Directed by Nicholas Webster
Screenplay by Glenville Mareth
Based on the story by Paul L. Jacobson
Produced by Paul L. Jacobson
Executive Producer: Joseph E. Levine
Associate Producer: Arnold Leeds
Music by Milton Delugg
Cinematography by David L. Quaid
Edited by William henry
Art Direction by Maurice Gordon
Set Decoration by Jack Writght III
Costume Design by Ramsey Mostoller
John Call as Santa Claus
Leonard Hicks as Kimar
Vincent Beck as Voldar
Bill McCutcheon as Dropo
Victor Stiles as Billy
Donna Conforti as Betty
Chris Month as Bomar
Pia Zadora as Girmar
Leila Martin as Momar
Charles Renn as Hargo
James Chill as Rigna
Ned Wertimer as Andy Henderson
Doris Rich as Mrs. Claus
Carl Don as Chochem
A film this bad has never looked so good! Horizon Movies proudly presents a fully restored edition (from HD elements) of the notorious holiday classic. The Martians are irked that their children spend so much time watching TV shows from Earth that sing the praises of Santa Claus, so they decide to make a trek to the planet to capture Mr. Claus. During their mission, they also abduct two children who lead the aliens to the North Pole and Santa. The Martians take all three earthlings back to Mars, where, with the help of a native, they manage to spread Christmas cheer throughout the red planet. SCCTM took on newfound fame in the 1990′s after being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and became a holiday staple on Comedy Central in the years following its 1991 premiere, becoming one of the series’ most popular episodes. It has since found new life again in the 2000′s, having been riffed by Cinematic Titanic, which includes former cast members from MST3K, as of November 2008. Scenes from the movie were also used in both Comedy Central’s ”A Colbert Christmas” and ”Eloise at Christmastime”. SPECIAL FEATURES: ”The Retro Holiday Film Festival” that includes Vintage Max Fleischer Holiday Cartoons, Seasons Greetings from Classic TV Stars, Howdy Doody s Christmas Story, Rare, Remastered Holiday Commercials and much, much more!
It’s a film that has been voted as “one of the worst films ever made” and it’s also a film that has its fans because of its unusual sci-fi nature and that film is “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”.
Released back in 1964, the film is based on a story written by Paul L. Jacobson and is directed by Nicholas Webster (“Gone are the Days!”, “Mission Mars”) and a screenplay by Glenville Mareth.
The film would star John Call (“The Anderson Tapes”, “Hangman’s Knot”, “Fearless Fagan”), Leonard Hicks (“Route 66″), Vincent Beck (“Vigilante”, “…And Justice For All”) and would be the film debut for actress Pia Zadora (“Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult”, “Hairspray”, “The Lonely Lady”).
While the film was lauded for just being bad, it would gain in popularity after being featured in an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ in the ’90s and since then, the film would be shown on Comedy Central since 1991 and also featured on “Elvira’s Movie Macabre”.
And now, the film has been remastered for a Blu-ray release courtesy of Horizon Movies and was released in December 2012.
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” takes place during Christmas and while Santa and his elves are preparing their toys to deliver and people of Earth are excited, the newscast with Santa Claus is being watched by two children living in Mars, Girmar (portrayed by Pia Zadora) and Bomar (portrayed by Chris Month). Not understanding why children want toys and not knowing what peace and joy is, their parents Kimar (portrayed by Leonard Hicks) and Momar (portrayed by Leila Martin) are concerned with their children.
They have been unable to sleep and there are reports that other children are behaving the same way throughout Mars.
Kimar, the leader of the Martians, and other fellow higher-ups of Mars have a meeting with the old Martian sage known as Chochem (portrayed by Carl Don) who tells them that the problem is that the children of Mars are distracted because in Earth, children are born to experience life, whereas in Mars, they are deprived of their childhood, fit with a device through their brains and have no individuality or freedom of thought.
And this problem has been going on for centuries and the only way to help the children is bring Santa Claus to Mars, so they can have fun.
And so, Kimar decides that they must go to Earth and bring Santa Claus to Mars. But against him is Voldar (portrayed by Vincent Beck), who feels that Mars should go back to its war-like style and that they should not worry about the children, nor should they care about this Santa Claus, but Kimar reminds him who is the leader of Mars.
So, the group takes off to Earth and while Earth spots the UFO and is reported on the news, the martians are confused as they spot Santa Claus in many street corners around the planet. So, they decide to land on Earth and end up kidnapping two children, Billy (portrayed by Victor Stiles) and Betty (portrayed by Donan Conforti), so they can take them to Santa Claus in the North Pole and also, because they don’t tell the government’s military that they came in contact with martians.
As the group head to the North Pole and the children try to escape thanks to the martian idiot Dropo (portrayed by Bill McCutcheon), they are re-caught by the martian’s giant robot and in the process, the martians head to the North Pole and break into Santa’s workshop where they kidnap him.
And now the martians, along with Santa, Billy and Betty are taken back home to Mars. Meanwhile, news on Earth causes fear and panic that two children and Santa Claus have been captured.
The martians have built an automated factory for Santa Claus to bring toys to the children of Mars and sees if it will aid in their health and happiness and bring them back to their original self, and while the martian children are happy, Kimar and Momar start to see that Billy and Betty are now starting to exhibit the worsened behavior of the martian children, and Momar suspects its because they were taken away from their families.
Meanwhile, Voldar and a few men are not so happy with Kimar bringing Santa and toys to their children, afraid it will make Martian society weak. And they plan a coup against Kimar to stop Santa and Christmas in Mars.
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is presented in 1:33:1 and while the film probably looks its best on Blu-ray, one should not think of this film to be pristine. The intro has some flickering and it’s important to note that on the rear of the package, the following message is featured: Due to teh rarity of materials available, the master for this film was created from a 16 mm European print secured by Holland Releasing with the HD telecine and color correction completed by Fotokem/Burbank. Since this print was originally created for television, it is presented in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The original theatrical release of this film was projected in a matted 1:85:1 with a safe top and bottom. As a result of the master having “removed the matte”, this presentation of the film actually reveals additional information on the top and bottom of the frame.
The film somewhat shows its age and is a bit soft, but it actually looks very good thanks to it being remastered in HD. I didn’t notice any compression problems at all. But picture quality does show the unbalance of makeup during that time (which was evident in the HD releases of the “Star Trek” television series on Blu-ray) but while not pristine, its the best that “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” will probably ever look.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”is presented in DTS-HD monaural. It does have its issues with it not being cleaned up but for those who love listening to “Hooray for Santy Claus” (sung by Pia Zadorra and other children) during the intro, this is the best you’ll hear of this song. Also, dialogue is understandable. Just don’t expect a clean lossless audio track as you will hear a bit of hiss and crackle.
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” come with the following special features:
- Santa’s Cool Holiday Film Festival - (46:17) Featuring many Christmas clips, animated shorts, commercials from the 1950′s-1960′s featuring the Nelsons, Shari Lewis and Lambchop and more. These are not separate and must be watched as a full featurette.
- Trailer – (1:57) A newer trailer for “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”.
- Stills Gallery – Featuring eight stills that can be viewed via your Blu-ray remote (or mouse/keyboard).
While “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” will be seen as one of the worst films of all time, for science fiction fans, it’s one of those films that people who believe in “it’s so bad, it’s good” will probably enjoy this film.
The whole premise of martians going to Earth to kidnap Santa Claus and bring him to Mars is really far out and makes you wonder if the writer was on some drug, but watching it today, you can’t help but enjoy it because it’s so bad.
You have a martian race who all wear these ugly green outfits, children on Mars who watch American television and martians who speak English. You have your idiot martian and as for Santa Claus, I don’t know about how others have felt over the years, but when I first watched this film, I felt Santa was a bit creepy.
And this film’s not going to win over sci-fans because costume design is terrible, makeup is not applied all that well (and the Blu-ray release makes these problems even more visible), special effects and set design is not all that great. But once again, this film has earned its reputation for being bad, but yet there are a legion of fans who need their fix on “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” because its bad. People who grew up with this film as they have grown up with other annual Christmas favorites such as “A Christmas Story”, “Home Alone”, “It’s a Wonderful Life” but instead of being a really good film, it’s more of watching this film because it’s so kitschy but so far out, that it makes you think if Glenville Mareth or Paul L. Jacobson were on drugs while creating this film.
But to this day, I still watch this film when it airs on television and now watching on Blu-ray, this time watching it with my 9-year-old and he found it to be amusing and entertaining.
As for the Blu-ray release, this is probably the best one is going to see of this film. While the picture quality and lossless track is not pristine, it still benefits from its remastering. So, for those hanging on to those old VHS tapes recorded from TV, go ahead and throw those away and get this Blu-ray instead. Also, for those who are nostalgic or are curious of older Christmas commercials or shorts, you get 46 minutes of classic Christmas clips from the ’50s and ’60s also included on this Blu-ray release.
Overall, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is known to be a bad film but I have seen way worse films than this and dare I say, I’m always entertained by this film because of its far-out nature. But for parents, this is probably a holiday film that you want to show your young children as they won’t question the low production values or its crazy storyline.
And the film is enjoyed by its fans because it has become this annual Christmas favorite for some because of its Christmas sci-fi nature and uber-kitschiness. So, for those who grew up watching this film will probably want to own it on Blu-ray. If you are a fan of the film, this Blu-ray is for you!
Before “Die Nibelungen”, “Metropolis” and the “Mabuse” films, there were five earlier films in Fritz Lang’s oeuvre that was considered lost. Three of them were found a few decades ago and were restored. Now these three films will be released on DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber. For fans of Fritz Lang, “Fritz Lang: The Early Works” is a fantastic early glimpse of Fritz Lang’s directorial career! Recommended!
© Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Wiesbaden. 2012 Kino Lorber, Inc. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: Fritz Lang: The Early Works
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: (1919) Harakiri, (1920) The Wandering Shadow (Das wandernde Bild), (1921) Four Around the Woman (Kampfende Herzen, Vier um die Frau)
DURATION: Harakiri (87 Minutes), The Wandering Shadow (67 Minutes),Four Around the Woman (84 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION:Black and White, 1:33:1, German with English Intertitles
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber Inc.
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2012
Directed by Fritz Lang
Based on the play “Madame Butterfly” by David Belasco and John Luther Long
Written by Max Jungk
Produced by Erich Pommer
Cinematography by Max Fassbende
Production Design by Heinrich Umlauff
The Wandering Shadow
Directed by Fritz Lang
Written by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou
Produced by Joe May
Cinematography by Guido Seeber
Art Direction by Otto Hunte
Four Around the Woman
Directed by Fritz Lang
Based on the play “Florence oder Die Drei be der Frau” by Rolf E. Vanloo
Written by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou
Produced by Erich Pommer
Music by Aljoscha Zimmerman
Cinematography by Otto Katurek
Art Direction by Hans Jacoby and Ernst Meiwers
Paul Biensfeldt as Daimyo Tokuyawa
Lil Dagover as O-Take-San
Georg John as Buddhist Monk
Meinhart Maur as Prince MAtahari
Rudolf Lettinger as Karan
Erner Huebsch as Kin-Be-Araki
Kaete Juster as Hanake
Niels Prien as Olaf J. Anderson
Herta Heden as Eva
Loni Nest as child
The Wandering Shadow
Mia May as Irmgard Vanderheit
Hans Marr as Georg Vanderheit
Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Georgs Vetter Wil Brand
Loni Nest as Irmgards Tochter
Before he gained worldwide renown for such films as DIE NIBELUNGEN, METROPOLIS, and M, Fritz Lang crafted a series of feature films that embody many of the thematic and stylistic trademarks that would come to define his work. Virtually unseen in the United States until this release, the three films in this collection were mastered from 35mm elements preserved by the F.W. Murnau Foundation, in association with numerous international archives.
An adaptation of Madame Butterfly, the tragic romance HARAKIRI indulged Lang’s fascination with Asian culture and Orientalist design. Filmed on the outskirts of Berlin, Lang strived for authenticity, and obtained sets and costumes from the Hamburg Anthropological Museum.
Rich in symbolic imagery and striking location photography, THE WANDERING SHADOW was the first collaboration of Lang and Thea von Harbou. It follows a woman who, in the wake of a sex scandal, seeks solitude in the Bavarian Alps. There, she is continually haunted by her past, but soon stumbles upon the one thing she never expected to find: the chance of redemption. Anticipating such films as DR. MABUSE: THE GAMBLER and SPIES, FOUR AROUND THE WOMAN involves a society woman who must navigate through a complex web of criminal and emotional intrigues.
Fritz Lang, the legendary filmmaker who will be known for epics such as “Metropolis” and “Die Nibelungen”, films such as “M” and “Fury” and most notably, the “Dr. Mabuse” films.
But for every filmmaker, before they accomplish success, their is that beginning where they have directed films that have not received much attention and are literally forgotten.
In November 2012, Kino Lorber released the 3-DVD set “Fritz Lang: The Early Works” which feature his 1919 silent film “Harakiri”, the 1920 silent film “Das Wandernde Bild” (The Wandering Shadow) and his 1921 silent film “Vier um die Frau” (For Around the Woman).
What makes this set quite appealing for cineaste is that many of Lang’s earlier films did not survive and the only way people know of these earlier films was through reviews on publications such as “The Kinematograph”, “Der Film” or “Lichtbildbuhne”. And while his first two films “Halbblut” and “Der Herr Der Liebe” may not be accessible, fortunately films such as “Die Spinnen” (The Spiders) and “Harakiri”, “Das Wandernde Bild” and “Vier um Die Frau” have been released in the U.S. on DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.
The first film featured in the set is titled “Harakiri”, a Japanese word for ritual suicide (by disemboweling ones self). Shot between “Die Spinnen” (The Spiders) in 1919, the film was a loose adaptation by Max Jungk of American writer John Luther Long’s short story “Madame Butterfly” (which was published in 1898 in the publication, “Century Magazine”).
The film revolves around the daughter O-Take-San (portrayed by Lil Dagover) who is pleased by the merchandise brought home to Japan by her father, Daimyo Tokuyawa (portrayed by Paul Biensfeldt). Unfortunately, the Buddhist Monk (portrayed by Georg John) is a man who is strict on O-Take-San and is upset that the Daimyo would try to corrupt his daughter with foreign things that would upset Buddha.
The reason for the Bhuddist Monk being strict is that he sees her as the next priest of the Forbidden Garden, something she doesn’t want to do. And her father, seeing the freedom in Europe, feels that his daughter would be best if she can live life with freedom of making her own decisions.
And this upsets the Buddhist Monk to the point that the Emperor of Japan finds out about this and orders the Daimyo to prove his loyalty to Japan and the Emperor by committing harakiri.
The Daimyo does as the Emperor asks and now life for O-Take-San without her father would force her to undergo strict rules under the Buddhist Monk.
But one day, a group of British soldiers talk about how the Daimyo’s home is where foreigners are unable to trespass. But for Officer Olaf J. Anderson (portrayed by Niels Prien), no one tells him what he can’t do.
And sure enough, Olaf meets O-Take-San. The two fall in love, get married despite the Buddhist Monk’s wishes and O-Take-San is pregnant.
But not long after, Olaf must go back to Europe as his stay in Japan is done. But he vows to come back.
Fast forward nearly four years later, O-Take-San awaits for Olaf to come back, while the Buddhist Monk now feels that if he doesn’t return within the exact date of four years, she will be considered single and must give up her child and forced to become a priestess.
Unbeknown to O-Take-San, Olaf is now married to his European wife Eva (portrayed by Herta Heden) and the two are in Japan for vacation.
For Fritz Lang’s 1920 film “Das Wandernde Bild” (The Wandering Shadow), the film would be the first official feature film that he and his wife, writer Thea von Harbou would collaborate on.
“Das Wandernde Bild” begins with a woman named Irmgard Vanderheit (portrayed by Mia May) who’s husband, the wealthy Georg Vanderheit (portrayed by Hans Marr) has died. And now his twin brother, John Vanderheit (also portrayed by Hans Marr) demands that she give all his wealth inherited from Georg because he is the rightful heir.
And as Irmgard tries to escape from John, she is helped by a man named Wil Brand (portrayed by Rudolf Klein-Rogge) who allows her to stay in his room but also allows her to escape from him up to the mountains.
While climbing up to the mountains, she meets a hooded hermit who is shocked to see a woman in the middle of nowhere. But John Vanderheit is determined of getting his inheritance, even if it means killing Irmgard.
When John tries to capture Irmgard on top of the mountain, she is saved by the hermit as the two retreat into a house. When the hermit takes off his robe, Irmgard finds out that it is her deceased husband Georg, who has retired into the mountains and is unable to leave until a statue of the virgin begins to walk.
But why would Georg throw all wealth away and leave his wife to become a hermit in the mountain?
And for the third and final 1921 film, “Vier um die Frau” or “Kampfende Herzende” (“For Around the Woman” and a.k.a. “Fighting Hearts”), the film revolves around a merchant named Yquem (portrayed by Ludwig Hartau) who has bought his wife Florence (portrayed by Carola Toelle) matching earrings. But the earrings come from a place where fakes and stolen jewelry are sold.
We find out that Yquem’s wife, before she was married, she had a boyfriend named Werner Krafft (portrayed by Anton Edthofer). But because her father wanted to marry a wealthy man, she was arranged to marry Yquem.
On the day before of her engagement party, Werner visited her. But as she and Werner went to talk alone in her room and she wanted to tell Werner that their relationship is over, Harry and her father went to check on Florence. Hearing another person in her room, the two break into her room and her father finds Florence tied up in bed, while Harry sees Werner running out. He finds a photo of Werner and asks Florence if she loves him, but she tells him no.
On the day, when Yqem had purchased the jewels, he sees the man that he saw in Florence’s room long ago from that engagement party. Still not knowing what truly happened that day, it continues to haunt him and he has wondered if she truly loves him.
Wanting to find out if he can trust his wife, he follows the man to the hotel and writes him a letter using his wife’s style of handwriting and asking the man to go to their home and in hopes to see if Florence is truly dedicated to him and their marriage. But what Yquem doesn’t know is that the person he gave the letter to is William Krafft, the twin brother of Werner who happens to be a con.
And what was supposed to be a trap to find out his wife’s true feelings, Yquem ends up bringing danger into his home instead. What will happen to his wife Florence?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
It’s important for people to remember that each of the three films presented in “Fritz Lang: Early Works” were considered lost for many decades. So, with that being said, the fact that a print of these once lost films of Fritz Lang has been found, is a miracle. It’s also important for people to know that a lot of silent films at the time were not taken care of. They were seen as disposable entertainment not mean to be rewatched as the era never realized that people would have an interest in these classic films.
I must first add the preface that these films are watchable. The do not have excessive nitrate damage but they do have specks and scratches and have been restored to the best quality possible. But also, there are footage and frames missing and the restoration crew did the best they can to help viewers understand the film through intertitles.
All three films are presented in 1:33:1 and are color tinted.
First, let’s begin with “Harakiri”. The restoration for the film was done by Nederlands Filmmuseum and Cineteca del Comune di Bologna. While there are some damage, white specks and scratches, the film is watchable. The beauty of the film, especially the authentic Japanese costumes and decorations supplied by the Ethnographical Museum run by I.F.G. Umlauff is noticeable. Compared to other silent films of its time, the quality considering its scratches and specks is still very good. But of the three film presented, this is the weakest of the three.
The film features music by Aljoscha Zimmerman and performed by Sabrina Hausmann (violin), Mark Pogolski (piano) and Markus Steiner (percussion).
For the second film “Das wandernde Bild” (The Wandering Shadow), the restoration was done in 1987 courtesy of Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek Berlin and Cinemateca Brasileira Sao Paulo. According to Kino Lorber, at its premiere at Tauentzien Palace in Berlin, “Das wandernde Bild” had a a length of 2,032 meters. The surviving edition, edited for release in Brazil, is 1,410 meters in length. No script or intertitle list is known to exist. For this edition, explanatory text has been added to facilitate comprehension of the plot where significant footage is missing.”
The picture quality for this film is actually quite good. less scratches and white specks compared to “Harakiri” but you do see vertical lines, but nothing that would prevent you from enjoying the film. The film features music by Aljoscha Zimmerman and performed by Sabrina Hausmann (violin) and Aljoscha Zimmerman (piano).
For the third film “Vier um die Frau” or “Kampfende Herzende” (For Around the Woman), according to Kino Lorber, the film was approved by the Berlin censor board in 1921 with a length of 1,707 meters. The only known surviving original nitrate print comes from the collection of the Cinemateca Brasileira in Sao Paulo and has a length of 1,556 meters. It is a Brazilian export copy entitled “Coracoes em lucta” (Hearts in Struggle). It is tined and contains Portuguese titles, intertitles and inserts. The print is heavily worn. There are jumps in many scenes. A censor card with the text of the original German titles is not available.
The source for this video master is the 1987 dupe negative of a reconstruction from the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum for Film and Television, Berlin, and the Cinematheca Brasileira, Sao Paolo. It is derived from a Brazilian distribution print and contains a reverse-translation of the Portuguese titles. The most serious film damage was digitally retouched while still maintaining the integrity of the original footage. The color correction is based on the original tinting of the nitrate copy. This allowed compensation for variations within a single color.
While the film does have scratches and specks and vertical lines. The film is still watchable. There are some frame jumps but compared to “Harakiri”, you can see much more detail in the footage. The film features music by Aljoscha Zimmerman and performed by Sabrina Hausmann (violin), Aljoscha Zimmerman (piano) and Markus Steiner (percussion).
“Fritz Lang: The Early Works” does not come with any special features.
“Fritz Lang: The Early Works” comes with a cardboard case.
I was quite thrilled when I first learned that Kino Lorber would be releasing Fritz Lang’s earlier work for a DVD set titled “Fritz Lang: The Early Works”.
Having followed Fritz Lang’s cinema oeuvre and also reading books about his film, especially the fantastic Lotte Eisner 1976 book “Fritz Lang”, Eisner would write about Lang’s earlier work through German film reviews because these films were considered lost. And the only earlier work that was accessible decades later was his films “Die Spinnen” (The Spiders) films in order to get an impression of a younger Lang as a filmmaker.
And here we are in 2012, over 90-years since these films were made and these films would receive reviews that would highlight Lang’s choice of shooting outdoors, attention to plot but also earlier work that would showcase the early husband and wife team of director Fritz Lang and writer Thea von Harbou.
For “Harakiri”, for today’s audiences, some may be unnerved to see Caucasian portrayals of Japanese. What is amazing is how elaborate the costume and set design was courtesy of the Ethnographical Museum run by I.F. G. Umlauff in order to capture the look of Japan. From the kimonos, the interiors to the outdoor set design, I was quite impressed of how much was put into making the film look authentic Japanese, despite using German talent and shooting the film in Germany.
Inspired by “Madame Butterfly”, while plot was important for a young Fritz Lang, especially in capturing emotion, the film itself suffers from certain explanations of “why?”. Why does the sailor get married to O-Take and then marries a European and why return back to Japan, to the same village of where his Japanese wife is waiting. Of course, the focus of the film is about Japanese honor and how far one would commit harakiri to protect that honor. And because there were not many films about Japanese culture tailored for a non-Japanese audience, the film fascinated viewers because there was nothing like it at the time.
A reviewer in 1919 for “The Berliner Borsenzeitung” wrote of “Harakiri” as “The outdoor shots are quite splendid and very picturesque, particularly those of Japanese festivities. One would not have thought the happy grounds of Woltersdorf could produce all this…a film product of the highest rank”.
As for the second film “Das Wandernde Bild” (The Wandering Shadow). For modern viewers, watching this today may seemed quite farfetched. Similar to a ’70s or ’80s horror movie in which a victim would be running but yet the antagonist who is walking at a snail’s pace somehow manages to capture its victim. For the first half of “The Wandering Shadow”, the film features a chase scene in which a widowed woman is trying to escape the antagonist (her brother-in-law) and travels and climbs mountains and cliffs but yet, the man who should be very far behind, is somehow able to catch up with her.
We are then shown her widowed husband who actually faked his death to live as a hermit in those mountains and is unable to leave until he sees a statue of the virgin walking. While the film does make one roll their eyes because of how farfetched it was, you can’t help but be drawn in by the landscape of where the film was shot. From a shot of hundreds in a village near a dock to the icy mountains, there was a wonderful focus of capturing the sense of adventure of its female protagonist Irmgard Vanderheit and trying to create a vile antagonist John Vanderheit.
But because the film gone beyond the typical studio shot and would feature a character in a variety of stunning locations for its time, and because of the film’s ability to capture life outside of the characters through the villages, the film received positive reviews.
A reviewer wrote in 1921 for “Film-Kurier” of “Das wandernde Bild”, “Fritz Lang’s direction is outstanding, particularly the crowd scenes, e.g. the peasant wedding on the Bavarian mountain lake, the peasant dance, the changing group scenes with ever-new types, all very colourful and vivid. The careful distribution of effects ensures that everyone of the five acts is equally lively.”
Unfortunately, the caveat of watching this film is the true ending is forever lost. So, the film ends with a summary based off a booklet.
And for the final film “Vier un die Frau” (Four Around a Woman), the film was interesting in the fact that it was an earlier style that Lang would focus on tragedy but also the use of many, many characters.
To tell you the truth, what I found fascinating but also yet frustrating about this film is how it doesn’t showcase the protagonist earlier in the film. The film starts off with all these shady characters and all of a sudden, these characters are hardly shown when the film’s focus turns to Florence and her husband Harry. So, pacing was a bit off for this film but its strength lies on its theme of a jealous husband trying to trap his wife and uncover a lie of a possible affair.
Uncensored, the film would feature Florence’s friend discussing how her husband is always working but it doesn’t mean she can’t have fun with other men. And she tries to cajole Florence into having some fun, but Florence is a wife who is dedicated to her husband to the very end.
But an interesting film that shows more of the complexity of Lang/von Harbou’s structure, may it be towards the writing or directing of the film. And in 1921, a reviewer for “Film und Presse” was quite pleased with the film, the reviewer wrote, “with an original plot, logical and consistent in spite of a host of disparate themes; dramatically well constructed, interesting right up to its tragic ending that could be called a real film ending”.
For fans of Fritz Lang’s work, It’s so fantastic to have these films, that were considered lost, now available and restored on DVD. One can’t expect the earlier works of a filmmaker to be his best and for Fritz Lang, he is one filmmaker who has done so many different types of films, that there is no doubt that his films from the 1920′s and 1940′s are among his best.
But for any cineaste, it’s that glimpse of how a filmmaker got his start before becoming a well-known filmmaker. For today’s viewer, these films will not compare to films like “M”, “Spies”, “Metropolis”, “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse”, etc. but when you put yourself in the shoes of viewers during that era in time, you start to realize why people had a fascination with Fritz Lang’s work. “Harakiri” was a film about Japanese, but yet not made in Japan, nor did it star Japanese talent but yet was made to look as authentic to Japan as possible. “Das wandernde Bild” for its cinematography and its outdoor chase scene to the portrayal of sinful characters of “Vier um die Frau”.
They show the earlier style of Lang and these three films did receive positive reviews and help introduce audiences to Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and not long after, Lang would come back with even better films with “Destiny”, “Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler”, the two films of “Die Nibulengen” and “Metropolis”.
Overall, if you are a fan of Fritz Lang’s oeuvre, chances are you may have not seen his earlier films and if that is the case, “Fritz Lang: The Early Works” is highly recommended!
“Die Nibelungen: Special Edition” is an epic that silent films fans should watch and also own! May you be a Fritz Lang or Thea von Harbou fan or a cineaste who appreciates German Expressionist cinema, “Die Nibelungen: Special Edition” is a Blu-ray release that is highly recommended! 5-stars!
TITLE: Die Nibelungen: Special Edition
FILM RELEASE: SIEGFRIED (1924), KRIEMHILD’S REVENGE (1925)
DURATION: Die Nibelungen: SIEGFRIED (149 Minutes), Die Nibelungen: KRIEMHILD’S REVENGE (131 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p high Definition, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio, Color Tinted, Intertitles
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
RATED: Not Rated
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Directed by Fritz Lang
Screenplay by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou
Produced by Erich Pommer
Cinematography by Carl Hoffman, Gunther Rittau and Walter Ruttman
Art Direction by Otto Hunte
Set Decoration Karl Vollbrecht
Costume Design by Paul Gerd Guderian
Original Music by Gottfried Huppertz with Paul Richter, Margarete Schon, Theodor Loos, Hans Adalbert Schlettow, Hanna Ralph, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, George John
Die Nibelungen: Siegfried
Gertrud Arnold as Koenigin Ute
Margarete Schon as Kriemhild
Hanna Ralph as Brunhild
Paul Richter as Siegfried
Theodor Loos as Koenig Gunther
Hans Carl Mueller as Gernot
Erwin Biswanger as Giselher
Bernhard Goetzke as Volker von Alzey
Hans Adalbert Schlettow as Hagen Tronje
Hardy von Francois as Dankwart
Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge
Margarete Schon as Kriemhild
Gertrud Arnold as Konigin Ute
Theodor Loos as Konig Gunther
Hans Carl Mueller as Gernot
Erwin Biswanger as Giselher
Bernhard Goetzke as Volker von Alzey
Hans Adalbert Schlettow as Hagen Tronje
Hardy von Francois as Dankwart
Yuri Yurovsky as Der Priester
Iris Roberts as Der Edelknabe
Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Konig Etzel
One of the greatest artistic and technical achievements of the German silent cinema, Fritz Lang’s DIE NIBELUNGEN is a passionate retelling of Nordic legend, invested with all the resources of the colossal Ufa Studios.
Scripted by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou (who later collaborated on Metropolis), and originally released as two separate features, the saga begins by constructing an enchanted kingdom populated by dragons, magical trolls, and heroic figures defined by rigid codes of honor. In the long-underrated second half, the death of Siegfried causes fantasy to devolve into nightmare, as his beloved Kriemhild enacts a vengeance that contaminates everyone in its path – a vengeance as ferocious and uncompromising as anything the cinema has ever depicted.
This edition is mastered in HD from the extensive 35mm restoration conducted by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, completed in 2012.
They were Germany’s powerhouse couple, filmmaker Fritz Lang who had a successful hit with “Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler” (1922), the famous director would marry writer Thea von Harbou, the woman he helped writing her screenplay and helped her with the production of the adaptation of her 1917 novel “Das indische Grabmal” (The Indian Tomb).
The two worked together for the film “Der mude Tod” (Destiny) in 1921 but for von Harbou, she would continue to gain acclaim in 1922 for her adaptation of F.W. Murnau’s “Phantom” and the 1924 film “Die Finanzen des Grobherzogs” (Finances of the Grand Duke).
But as von Harbou was planning on her next novel known as “Metropolis”, before that novel, she would and Friz Lang would work together in what would become a major, epic collaboration between the husband and wife team.
Writing a detailed script for an adaptation of “Nibelungenlied” (The Song of the Nibelungs), an epic poem created between 1180-1210 in Middle High German and is a tragic story.
The script would be part of “Die Nibelungen” and be featured as two films “Die Nibelungen: Siegfried” and “Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache” (Kriemhild’s Revenge). And suffice to say, the film was a success. Deemed as a form of German Expressionist through symbolism, it is said that “Die Nibelungen” was the inspiration for Sergei Eisenstein when he created “Alexander Nevski”.
At an event in Yale back in 1966, Lang said of “Die Nibelungen”, “I was interested in bring to life a German saga in a manner different from Wagnerian opera, without beards and so on. I tried to show in the “Nibelungen” four different worlds: the primeval forest, where lives the crippled Mime who teaches Sigfried to forge his sword, the dragon and the mystic subterranean realm of Alberich, the deformed dwarfish keeper of the Nibelung treasure, which he curses when slain by Siegfried. Secondly, the stylised, slightly degenerate, over-cultured world of the kings of Burgundy, already about to disintegrate. And finally the world of the wild Asiatic hordes of the Huns, and their clash with the world of the Burgundians (Who changed their names to Nibelungen after taking over their treasure).
Filmed in nine months, it was the most challenging film that Lang had undertaken in his career thus far. It pushed his crew to create something that has never been done but also to create a film knowing they will not have the budget, compared to something like a D.W. Griffith Hollywood drama. He and his wife, Thea von Harbou knew how to work around budget constraints, while Lang knew how to push people’s buttons but get the best out of them.
Working with a distinguished crew such as Carl Hoffman as cinematographer but also working with art direction courtesy of Otto Hunte and Karl Volbrecht, set decoration by Erich Kettelhut and Vollbrecht and costume design by Paul Gerd Guderian and Aenne Willkomm, it was a production that required the best in visual effects of that time period.
Atmospheric landscapes were built, Attila was inspired by etchings by Max Klinger and the German Expressionist of creating harmony, balance through its characters, its structures and architectural composition was important.
So, nearly 90-years after this film was released to theaters and would be released on DVD, an extensive 35mm restoration was conducted by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung . While there is no original cut that exists, fortunately many negatives of a variety of versions made for different countries did survive, albeit in various states of deterioration.
Using today’s modern digital technology, “Die Nibelungen”which took four years to restore, was screened in April 2010. And now, the HD special edition of “Die Nibelungen” was released on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S. courtesy of Kino Lorber as part of their Kino Classics lineup.
The first film “Die Nibelungen: Siegfried” begins with an introduction to Siegfried, son of King Siegmund of Xanten, who has mastered the art of forging a sword at a shop of a Mime. Shocked by how quickly he had learned to craft a sword of high quality, the Mime sends Siegfried home.
But while walking home, Siegfried listens to a crowd of blacksmiths discussing the tales about the Kingdom of Burgundy and the King’s daughter, Princess Kriemhild. Siegfried discusses how he wants to win her hand in marriage and the men laugh at him. But not a man who likes to be spurned, Siegfried tells them to show him the way and he will win her over.
The Mime who is jealous of Siegfried’s knowledge of swordmaking tells him to cross the Wood of Woden, which in truth is a trap where Siegfried would be killed by magical creatures.
And as Siegfried goes through the woods, he spots a dragon and gets into a fight with it. He slays the dragon and sees its hot, yellow blood flowing. While sitting, he begins to understand the birds who tell him that if he bathes in the dragon’s blood, he will be become invincible.
So, Siegfried does what the bird has told him and while bathing in dragon’s blood, a fallen lime leaf falls on his shoulder and covers a spot not touched by the dragon’s blood.
As Siegfried continues to make his way towards Burgundy, he trespasses on the land of the Nibelungs and is attacked by Alberich, the King of Dwarves. But because of his invincibility, Siegfried defeats him. Alberich offers his net of invisibility and transformation if he spares his life and also offers to make Siegfried the richest king on Earth with the Nibelung treasure. But while Siegfried ponders on the treasure, he is attacked by Alberich, but because of his invincibility, Alberich is killed and before he dies, he curses all those who inherit the treasure to be cursed and his dwarves all turn to stone.
When Siegfried arrives to Burgundy, he takes on the guise of the King of 12 Kingdoms. Siegfried offers his hand in marriage for Kriemhild, but King Gunther wants him to be his vassal. Siegfried tells him that he would never be one’s vassal which upsets King Gunther, but mostly his adviser, the warrior known as Hagen of Burgundy.
But before any skirmish can happen, Princess Kriemhild appears and Hagen negotiates with Siegfried that he will be able to take Kriemhild’s hand in marriage if he helps King Gunther win the hand of the Queen of Iceland, Brunhild.
Siegfried agrees and when they arrive to Brunhild’s kingdom, Siegfried uses the invisibility net to make it look as if King Gunther has defeated Brunhild. And because Brunhild has lost, she must marry King Gunther and because Siegfried has helped, according to the deal made by King Gunther and Hagen with Siegfried, Princess Kriemhild would be his bride.
And as Siegfried and Kriemhild would live a happy marriage, Brunhild and King Gunther do not. Brunhild can not see how someone as weak as King Gunther can defeat her in battle and thinks something is wrong.
Without revealing too much of what happens for the final half of the film… What happens when the secret of what Siegfried had done for King Gunther is revealed to the Queen. How will she react and what will happen to Siegfried?
NOTE: By revealing a synopsis of the second film, it will spoil what happens for the first film, so do not read any further.
For the second film “Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge”, the film takes place after the death of Siegfried under the hands of Hagen. And because her family uses Hagen as an adviser and he was acting on the orders of the King, Kriemhild continues to ask for her family to end their ties with the murderous Hagen.
But the family will not. Because the family decided to act in what would lead to Siegfried’s death, they will continue to protect him. King Gunther tells his sister to stop asking.
Meanwhile, Kriemhild uses the Nibelungen treasure to give to the poor and win over the people of Burgundy, as part of her plan to take revenge against Hagen. Meanwhile, Margrave Ruediger of Bechlarn arrives to Burgundy that in behalf of King Etzel (or otherwise known as “Attila the Hun”), the King asks for Princess Kriemhild’s hand in marriage.
At first Kriemhild declines but when she sees the opportunity to get back at Hagen as a possibility, she has Ruediger promise her through his blade that if she marries the King, he will do anything she asks, that includes getting revenge on the person that has wronged her. Ruediger makes the promise and the vow.
While the two are talking, Hagen seeing Kriemhild working against the king, takes the treasure given to her by Siegfried and dumps it into the Rhine River. Because of this, she realizes that Hagen has once again take something dearest from her and agrees to marry the King.
So, disgusted at her family for siding with Hagen, she leaves Burgundy with no care towards them. When she arrives to greet King Etzel, she tells him the agreement made with Ruediger that if she marries him and also bears a son, the King will grant her a wish.
Eventually, Kriemhild bears a boy and to celebrate the Midsummer Solstice, Queen Kriemhild of the Huns tells her husband that now is the time to make good on her wish and that is to invite her family to the kingdom. At the same time, she bribes the Hun warriors with money to avenge and kill Hagen when he arrives.
When King Gunther, Hagen, the family and several knights attend the Hun feast, the Huns try to kill Hagen but are unsuccessful. When the Knight Dankwart warns King Gunther and Hagen of what has happened, they realize they were deceived and in revenge, Hagen kills King Etzel’s young boy.
This leads to a battle between the Knights of Burgundy vs. the Huns and Queen Kriemhild will do all she can to take revenge against Hagen. But how far will Krimehild go and what cost?
“Die Nibelungen: Special Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is color-tinted. Having owned the previous Kino DVD release, “Die Nibelungen: Special Edition” looks absolutely magnificent on Blu-ray but most importantly, the restoration done by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung was incredible!
It’s important to note that when you start up both Blu-ray releases, you are given the following message:
“Despite its rich history and reputation, no complete, German version of Die Nibelungen exists today, neither in the form of original distribution prints nor camera negatives. This photochemical restoration is derived from incomplete camera negatives. Missing parts were supplemented with various dupe negatives and surviving distribution prints. The tinting follows the color scheme of the original prints and utilizes the authentic photochemical method: the creation of a black and white print, which is then colored in a dye bath. The German intertitles were digitally restored, taken from preserved prints and negatives. Reconstructed titles are indicated with the logo of the Murnau foundation. For the HD mastering, the picture was corrected in some places and severe film damage was digitally repaired.”
Similar to “Metropolis” which incorporated footage from other sources, you can not tell by watching this film on Blu-ray. The film looks as if it hasn’t aged. Yes, you can see specks and scratches from this nearly 90-year-old film but the film’s clarity is impressive.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Die Nibelungen: Special Edition” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and the original 1924 score by Gottfried Huppertz is captivating. HR-Sinfonieorchester and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra should be commended for recreating Huppertz 1924 score because as epic as the film is for its artistic and visual achievement, the music is magnificent! I absolutely loved the music for this film!
Also, included is a LPCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack and intertitles are included.
“Die Nibelungen: Special Edition” comes with the following special features:
- The Legacy of Die Nibelungen - (1:08:36) A 10-part documentary on the making of the film, Nazi Germany’s plagiarism of the film, the restoration process and the recreation of the original score by Gottfried Huppertz.
- Fritz Lang on Set - (1:44) A behind-the-scenes look at Fritz Lang on the set at Ufa Studios.
“Die Nibelungen: Special Edition” comes with a slipcase and an essay by Film Scholar Jan-Christopher Horak – If you have a BD-Rom drive, included is an essay.
Over a decade ago, when I first watched Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”, I absolutely fell in love with the film. I came to enjoy Fritz Lang films, as well as films written by Thea von Harbou.
Watching as many Weimar-era films, watching many films based on German Expressionism, reading books on the genre and really, trying to imagine how filmmaking was in Germany during that era. But one film has always caught my attention in terms of epic early German films and that film was “Die Nibelungen”.
Yes, “Metropolis” was a masterpiece but “Die Nibelungen” was a major achievement for both Lang and his wife-at-the-time, Thea von Harbou. Not only did this film lead to Harbou’s work becoming internationally known but for its visual and artistic achievement, it would show producers that Fritz Lang was a capable filmmaker that is able to take on huge films. Films that may not have the budget or the size of a D.W. Griffith Hollywood epic but Lang would have to find a way and von Harbou would have to accommodate any writing changes to reflect any changes that would be deemed to expensive.
So, during this time of German cinema, there was a lot of experimentation that Fritz Lang and his cinematographer Carl Hoffman would have to tinker with. For example, one scene in which the dwarfs are turned into stone by Alberich had to show a moment where the dwarfs are screaming. The other well-known cinematographer Gunther Rittau would find ways to come up with movie magic through superimposing images.
For Siegfried’s fight against the dragon, mechanisms were needed to be created in order to make the movement seem life-like. So, I can imagine for early 1920′s, how this film would be a marvelous achievement in visual effects in cinema. The crew was pushed to their limits and no matter how strict Lang was to pushing one over the edge, it led to the efficacy of the film as “Die Nibelungen” looks and feels like an alternate world that has come alive.
But as the first film was more of an introduction of characters, the first film was important in establish Siegfried and Kriemhild, King Gunther and Hagen as well as Brunhild and how far one would go into exacting revenge. Vengeance is a theme that shows no positive conclusion to either film as it only leads to tragedy.
For “Die Nibelungen: Siegfried”, viewers were probably in shock as what looked to be the films protagonist, finds himself betrayed by the same people he worked and cared for. The film was like an an adventure, a dream come true with tragic results.
But of course, Germans had a different interpretation of the film at that time. Marx-Engels wrote in 1953 for “Uber Kunst and Literature”, “Siegfried is the representative of German youth. All those among us whose hearts are still untamed by the oppressions of life know what this means. We are filled with the same thirst for action, the same resistance against the conventional… in us, the eternal weight up of things, the philistine fear of quick action is something we hate with all of our soul..we would like to tear down the barricade of circumspection.”.
While “Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge” was a film that felt bittersweet, dark and vengeful. And because of that, I found it the most fascinating of the two films. Mainly to see how a woman, so full of love, would literally give her soul and her life to see the man who killed her beloved Siegfried, killed. And because she believes her life died when Siegfried was killed, but also when her family would do nothing but protect Hagen, the man who killed Siegfried, she is a woman on one mission. And that mission is to exact revenge on Hagen and to her, that is all that matters.
Suffice to say, people have various interpretations of this film. People are moved differently when watching this film. Sergei Eisenstein was inspired by “Die Nibelungen” and it would give him the inspiration to go on and create his own epic “Alexander Nevsky”, many debated the film because it was loved by Hitler and Goebbels and some even felt the film was anti-semitic and that the character of Alberich depicted in the film had Jewish features. In Lang’s defense, he did consult the Ulmlauff of the Hamburg Ethnographical Museum in order to capture the overall look of these characters.
I’m not an erudite on German history or culture, so I’ll leave it to the debaters to engage in polemic discussion. For me, personally, I saw this film as a good vs. evil storyline with tragic consequences. I know this is probably a bad example to use as a comparison, but in order to create a juxtaposition that some people reading this review will be able to understand, one can look at a film like “Star Wars” and see how one can be good, but easily consumed by darkness and vengeance.
In the first film, Siegfried and Kriemhild wore white and were the couple who were the symbol of love, Hagen and Brumhild in black and were symbols of darkness or instigators of tragedy. The second film, Kriemhild who was once the purist princess had become a dark queen. So dark that even Attila the Hun seemed as if he was weakened by his new wife. Nevertheless, a tragic film, an epic film with wonderful architecture and the scale of the many people who were involved as extras without having to go to extravagant when compared to D.W. Griffith’s 1916 film “Intolerance”.
But one can easily look back at the film and think, how things would have never gotten out of hand if Siegfried kept his mouth closed. Suffice to say, no lessons would be learn and this is based on a tragic poem. But you have to give credit to Thea von Harbou for taking on such a monumental task of crafting a screenplay with full detail and Fritz Lang for bringing that script to life in cinema.
For silent epics, I found “Die Nibelungen” to be a more engaging and accessible silent film because its story and actors are coherent. Sometimes, words do not need to be said and everything can be seen within one’s eyes. Actress Margarete Schon was fantastic as Kriemhild as you can easily sense the tragedy, the emotions of pain, happiness, sadness, love and evil. Sometimes, there are characters who tend to overact but when it matters most, it’s the look that you get from watching Margaret Schon, the eyes of Kriemhild and the transformation she goes from one film to the the second. An innocent flower to a cold-hearted queen.
And for decades, this film has continued to entertain audiences of different generations. I’m glad that Fritz Lang did not accept offers to remake “Die Nibelungen” because the film would lose have lost its luster and possibly be overacted or poorly acted. For the way they are now, these two films manage to be effective and highly entertaining as silent films that can never be duplicated.
Now, with its release on Blu-ray, fully-restored, one can appreciate the painstaking effort by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung for its four years of restoring the film. Picture quality was fantastic and no sign of major damage. Yes, for a nearly 90-year-old film, it will have its white specks and scratches but for the clarity alone, I was impressed of how awesome both films look on Blu-ray. This is the cleanest, sharpest and best looking version of the film to date and I was impressed of how much of a difference “Die Nibelungen: Special Edition” looks in HD compared to its previous Kino DVD counterpart. Big difference!
And as for the music, HR-Sinfonieorchester and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of the original 1924 Gottfried Huppertz composition presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 was simply magnificent. I was captivated by the music soundtrack and to heart in HD, I was moved and even going so far to look up if a soundtrack is available! And as far as special features are concerned, there is a 68-minute documentary plus newsreel footage of Fritz Lang included. But I’m just happy that these two films were presented together on Blu-ray and they look and sound so awesome on Blu-ray!
Overall, “Die Nibelungen: Special Edition” is an epic that silent films fans should watch and also own! May you be a Fritz Lang or Thea von Harbou fan or a cineaste who appreciates German Expressionist cinema, “Die Nibelungen: Special Edition” is a Blu-ray release that is highly recommended! 5-stars!