If you tend to avoid watching older movies just because you think the picture quality isn’t up to par with our modern releases, this might be a good week for you to set aside your videophile nature. More classics are coming out on Blu-ray with surprisingly stunning transfers for such old films—and if you’re a big fan of such classics you’ll definitely want to check out these newly restored masterpieces in your home theater.
Two cases in point this week: Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, with its 50th anniversary edition release, and John Ford’s Stagecoach, which is nearing its 70th anniversary. (Click here to view a slideshow of our Top 10 Blu-ray Releases this week.)
Are they going to be as pristine to watch as last year’s Star Trek? Of course not. But they’ll likely be the best-looking versions available—even if it takes quite a bit of re-mastering to get there.
For example, check out what the acclaimed folks at Criterion did for the Stagecoach video transfer (from the included Blu-ray booklet, via Blu-ray.com):
“The original negative for Stagecoach has been considered lost for decades. For this edition, we evaluated several of the best surviving prints, both restored and original, before we found a 1942 nitrate duplicate negative that showed exceptional detail, gray scale, and clarity. We chose it as the primary source for this new high-definition digital transfer, created on a Spirit 2K Datacine, because we believed it was the best surviving film material of Stagecoach. For safety, a new 35mm fine-grain positive was made from from the negative as a preservation.
Inevitably, certain defects remain. The picture suffered from thousands of instance of blended-in scratches and debris, especially around reel changes and in action sequences. In cases where the damage was not fixable without leaving traces of our restoration work, we elected to leave the original damage. Through hundreds of hours of restoration work, we’ve manually removed the worst of the damage, along with dirt, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker, using MTI’s DRS system and Pixel Farm’s PFClean system, while Digital Vision’s DVNR system was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction. Additional restoration was performed with the help of Reliance Mediaworks and its propriety software.”
Yowsa! Let’s remember that films are indeed works of art, and it’s always great to enjoy such a work that’s been taken care of so well to bring it back to vibrant life.
Then again, if you’d rather watch something more modern, there’s always this week’s release of the second season of HBO’s True Blood ... and it’s twist on a tale that’s, of course, a classic.
Here’s the complete release schedule for this week (slideshow synopses and schedule courtesy of Blu-ray.com):
Beyond Sherwood Forest
By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two
City of the Living Dead
Clash of the Titans
Class of Nuke’em High
Donizetti: Don Pasquale
Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore - Glyndebourne 2009
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog
Driven to Kill
Flashbacks of a Fool
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part 1
Hiromi Kanda: Hiromi in Love
Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music
Merlin and the Book of Beasts
Mozart: Cosi fan tutte
Ondine: Royal Ballet
The Pharaoh’s Daughter
Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites
Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
Tromeo and Juliet
True Blood: The Complete Second Season
Tupac: Live at the House of Blues
Follow Electronic House
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.