24 / BD 78 Faust

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djali999
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 11:41 am
Location: Florie-dah

#101 Post by djali999 » Wed Jul 05, 2006 11:48 pm

denti alligator wrote:And the film! My god. This may be Murnau's greatest achievement. Now I'm considering removing The Laugh Laugh from my fall seminar's syllabus and replacing it with Faust.


Speaking from the perspective of a film student, I think the general populous of film viewers have more to gain from the more obscure Faust than from Der Letzte Mann, especially the center segment with all it's rather low comedy and pastoralism. This stuff will probably surprise the average viewer, probably only acquainted with Nosferatu. And the strum und drang of the supernatural segments - mein gottes, what a fully realized baroque vision! Beautiful, entrancing stuff.

Denti, what is the focus of your class / lecture? In certain cases I suppose the more "canonical" Letzte Mann is appropriate, but Faust is so unusual and so full of piss and vinegar that I bet it'd really jar out some good discussion and learning situations.

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denti alligator
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#102 Post by denti alligator » Thu Jul 06, 2006 1:41 am

It's actually a writing course for Freshmen with a thematic focus on Weimar-era culture. The students will probably be seeing silent films for the first time, so it's safer to go with the "canonical" film--plus it fits nicely into that week's topic ("Social Struggles") and gives the students more material to help them contextualize the 'contemporary' experience of the other writers/thinkers we'll be working with.
On the other hand ... this film would give them an utterly different perspective on the 'Weimar experience.'

Back to the DVD: I found the parts of the commentary I've listened to so far insightful and informative. Strikes a nice balance between analysis, contextualization and 'trivia.' The booklet is--as usual--gorgeous! Can't wait to dig into the extras on disc two. Minor (unavoidable and mostly unnoticeable) image flaws aside, this is release of the year, so far ...

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vogler
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 8:42 am
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#103 Post by vogler » Thu Jul 06, 2006 10:12 am

Stunning film and dvd - it looks fantastic.
I already have a copy of the Spanish disc but it suffers from a hideous score by Art Zoyd that could probably rival their Nosferatu score for sheer inappropriateness and for it's ability to destroy the mood of the film. Synthesised frogs croaking???
The Timothy Brock score is for the most part superb.
Love the booklet too.

I find the best way to get rid of the 'jaggies' is to stop looking for them.

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FilmFanSea
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:37 pm
Location: Portland, OR

#104 Post by FilmFanSea » Sat Jul 08, 2006 2:44 pm

Perhaps not coincidentally, Faust is the latest addition to Slant Magazine's 100 Essential Films list. An appreciation of the film by Slant's Fernando Croce is here.

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#105 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Jul 08, 2006 3:38 pm

denti alligator wrote:One thing I found interesting in light of the Criterion debate on windowboxing is that this DVD is windowboxed. Strange that Gary's screen captures at the Beaver don't show this, nor does he mention it, even though he makes a point of stressing it every time Criterion uses windowboxing..
Gary's mood drifts depending on who he's reviewing. You know that Dent. What's unforgivable today is perfectly understandable the next.

His service is still, of course & nonetheless, very valuable.

One thing I've always said about FAUST-- it's visible even in the export version-- is it's residence at the absolute pinnacle position in attempts to master the art of composing the B&W 1/1.37 image. I was remarking to someone else how interesting I found it that, when it came time for both men to indulge in their superduper tippity top of the line visually stunning UFAproductions, Lang & Murnau swapped out their usual cinematographers... Lang taking the great Karl Freund for METROPOLIS & Murnau taking the only slightly less consistently great Carl Hoffman for FAUST.

Murnau's visual sense and ability to guide the viewer's eye effortlessly thru incredibly dense-- horizontally, vertically, and in depth via deep focus-- was absolutely unmatched, and FAUST is the most complete representation of this mastery. The completeness & radiance of his images are so astounding, not least because no matter how unbelievably stratospheric the virtuoso quality of the images, this aspect is always surpassed by the ethereal beauty. They always serve the story beautifully, never feel forced, artificial, "showoffy", "arranged", "complicated" (if the frame includes 3 people in the foreground, four more on a parapet up and to the side about ten feet behind the first three, along with a dense crowd of 25 souls conducting a religious ritual far in the distance the size of ants, it always feels as though the camera just happened in perchance and caught this preexisting situation-- and photographed in under a holy light... not that a film director arranged them into this winding arrangement and spent a year trying to find a lighting for it), it's always effortless and deep into the soul of the story, and never "spectacle" which one has to admit Sternbergs tour de force images can slide into from time to time. Sternberg was always looking for shadow patterns & weeping willows & tassels & kite & tampon strings plus whatever this & that he could dangle into his foregrounds while shooting out of the dark.

Murnau's images always have an unusual quality to me: I always feel the urge to want to "dip" my hands into the screen as if it is some warm, near-religious fluid resident there, so full of life & nearly holy like frigging stained glass or something. I can't explain it. His films are like a hot springs to me, always have been: I never stop wanting to jump in. Never showoffy whilst kicking the shit out of every other filmmaker on earth, his ten year run (after his first 3 postwar years learning his craft, less time than kids take today to get a BFA) running from 1921-1931, from NOSFERATU, PHANTOM, LAST LAUGH, TARTUFFE, FAUST, SUNRISE, CITY GIRL (4 DEVILS was reputed to be as least as good as SUNRISE), and TABU is just the most dizzying fucking meteoric blast of talent way way way beyojnd the comprehension of us mere mortals. Murnau in my mind will probably never be bettered, he's been my favorite director since I was a wee young maniac. The great soulful poet-painter of the cinema, he almost singlehandedly invented "the art film".

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Scharphedin2
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 7:37 am
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#106 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sun Jul 09, 2006 7:08 pm

It is almost presumptuous to say anything about this film after Schreck's wonderful post above.

Whether I was more conscious about the compostion of the individual shots in the film after reading Schreck's appraisal, or whether it is simply because the film is just as rich visually as Schreck points out, I can't be certain. However, it was all just as Schreck says with respect to the ceaseless inventiveness in the composition of the individual images, and the utility of the entire frame and depth of field (this in fact was the most striking revelation to me -- here is Murnau in silent days, 15 years before Welles came to Hollywood, and he is essentially creating the same sense of space as Welles did in Citizen Kane). There is in all of Faust hardly a single image that is thrown away.

The visual brilliance of the film having been covered, there is still much more to recommend the film. Murnau's ability to take this most central of German/European folk tales, and render both its Olympian and deeply personal qualities with great conviction within the space of less than two hours is in itself a feat. On top of that, he manages to infuse a lot of humor into the story, primarily through Emil Jannings performance as Mephisto -- literally every human emotion displayed by the various characters in the film finds its natural counterpoint in the grimaces and postures of Jannings. And then there are the sundry optical effects, the shape changes of the devil, etc., etc.

After watching the film, I found myself thinking about the kind of impact a film like this must have had on people back in 1926. Imagine one of those huge theatres back then, packed with literally thousands of people, watching this on a gigantic screen, with live music. It must have been overwhelming... remember, feature films as such were only really a decade old. No amount of present day CGI and dolby surround effects could even come close to matching something like that.

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#107 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Jul 10, 2006 1:13 am

Scharphedin2 wrote:It the kind of impact a film like this must have had on people back in 1926. Imagine one of those huge theatres back then, packed with literally thousands of people, watching this on a gigantic screen, with live music. It must have been overwhelming... remember, feature films as such were only really a decade old. No amount of present day CGI and dolby surround effects could even come close to matching something like that.
Amen brother.

Back then, along with plenty of slop, film also consistently operated as a fine, fine, fine, high art; and Murnau composed images and rendered an art fully on a par with Rembrandt and Michaleangelo. Nothing even remotely similar exists today.

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Steven H
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
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#108 Post by Steven H » Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:55 am

HerrSchreck wrote:Back then, along with plenty of slop, film also consistently operated as a fine, fine, fine, high art; and Murnau composed images and rendered an art fully on a par with Rembrandt and Michaleangelo. Nothing even remotely similar exists today.
I can't stop watching this film. I keep popping it right back in the player. Beautiful in framing, motion, lighting, you name it, just beautiful. One of my favorite moments is right before Faust is about to take the Parmesan Princess, Mephisto blows a hanging candle into existence (not really, of course, but the lighting tricks induced to get this effect) and as the camera pulls back, the space in the rear ground, the bed, is illuminated by the swaying "candle". Mephisto exits right as the princess and Faust enter bottom left and make their way through cinematic space and depth, all the while light, staging, and camera movement produce such a resounding effect.

I enjoyed all the extras immensely. The commentary was fantastic, and I tried and failed to remember *half* of the names and film references Krohn and Ehrenstein made. They brought up the homosexuality of the film, and didn't really mention anything specific, but something jumped out at me, that Mephisto took such an interest in Faust as a youth, always on the sidelines of his enjoyment of life, orgies, etc. That "orgies" were even brought up, in my mind, conveys a sort of mysterious sexuality. Still, it would seem that if there could be a "least gay" Murnau film, this is it.

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blindside8zao
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 4:31 pm
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#109 Post by blindside8zao » Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:23 pm

I think it's time for me to buy a Region Free player... Any suggestions?

And where is the cheapest and/or best place for an American to purchase MOCs.

peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#110 Post by peerpee » Thu Jul 20, 2006 6:50 am

from the Cheapest Prices thread:

www.cd-wow.us now have a Masters of Cinema Series banner on the righthandside of the page, leading to this page. They are currently working on stocking the titles they are missing and adding them to that page. Please email them if there's anything you'd like them to stock ( help@cd-wow.com )

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FilmFanSea
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:37 pm
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#111 Post by FilmFanSea » Thu Jul 20, 2006 12:37 pm

peerpee wrote:from the Cheapest Prices thread:
Geez, for someone who considers himself to be pretty well-informed, I feel like an idiot. (That's what I get for not reading the DVD Trades, Bragains, and Stores section, I guess.) I had no idea that CD WOW! USA was stocking MoC titles. Goodbye, Amazon UK. Thanks, Nick.

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Anthony
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:38 pm
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#112 Post by Anthony » Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:55 am

I just watched this DVD and was blown away at the fantastic job MoC did with it. Wow! The German version has been restored far better than I could have imagined. Before this release, I had only seen snippets of the international version. Everything about this DVD is astounding... from the marvelously restored German version, to the packaging (some very nice looking posters inside the case), nice art work on the cover, excellent essay by Peter Spooner inside the pamphlet, interesting interview with Tony Raynes, and a fantastic commentary to boot!

This is a strong candidate for "release of the year!" Thank you MoC. Great job!... Great job! Your efforts and work are much appreciated.

=D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D>

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daniel p
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:01 pm
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#113 Post by daniel p » Tue Sep 05, 2006 8:19 pm

I got this today, and noticed a sticker on the front, stating "-includes a lush 40-page booklet". Not wanting to sound disappointed at all, but the booklet is only 28. Anyone else get this?

peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#114 Post by peerpee » Tue Sep 05, 2006 8:41 pm

It was gonna be 40-page until the last minute. The stickers were already printed. Sorry!

We've since done two 40-pagers that were advertised as 28-pagers (FUNERAL PARADE and FANTASTIC PLANET), so I hope that makes up in some small way!

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daniel p
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:01 pm
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#115 Post by daniel p » Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:00 pm

peerpee wrote:It was gonna be 40-page until the last minute. The stickers were already printed. Sorry!

We've since done two 40-pagers that were advertised as 28-pagers (FUNERAL PARADE and FANTASTIC PLANET), so I hope that makes up in some small way!
No problem Nick (I love that you post on these boards), no problem at all - to have Faust in such a deluxe treatment with the bonus of a booklet is more than enough.
Just wanted to say, the booklets are incredible... after the Kwaidan one, I must be spoilt. Keep up the good work on them :D

peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#116 Post by peerpee » Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:26 pm

Thanks for the kind words! -- If you liked the KWAIDAN one, you'll probably love the forthcoming KEATON book.

[I'd post on here even if I weren't involved with the MoC Series. I used to pre-2004, and before that on all the previous incarnations of this board. I love it here! :)]

alfons416
Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2006 5:39 am

#117 Post by alfons416 » Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:31 pm

i have a short question about Faust.

Are there alot o explaining inertitles in the movie? or is it almost as free from them as the last laugh?

the reason i ask is since my cinemateque will show the movie in a new transfer with the original german titles this autumn, and even though i've learned a little german in highschool i think it will be pretty hard to follow...

is it easy you think?

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ola t
They call us neo-cinephiles
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 4:51 am
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#118 Post by ola t » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:21 pm

Yes, you should go and see it! If you've studied a little German, which I haven't, then you'll likely understand more than I did when it was shown here in Malmö last year, and I got enough of it to be thoroughly entertained! I remember I was also afraid it would have many intertitles out of respect for Goethe, but Murnau really made it his own and it's only slightly talkier than Sunrise, for example.

Funny coincidence, I've spent the last couple of hours listening to the wonderful commentary track on the MoC disc. My fiancee is in Denmark tonight; spending the evening with Bill Krohn and David Ehrenstein was, well, of course not quite as good as being with her but a pretty good substitute!

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porquenegar
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:33 pm

#119 Post by porquenegar » Wed Sep 06, 2006 11:19 pm

blindside8zao wrote:I think it's time for me to buy a Region Free player... Any suggestions?

And where is the cheapest and/or best place for an American to purchase MOCs.
The Oppo is pretty highly regarded for around $200 and it also upscales and comes shipped with a DVI cable or a DVI-HDMI one depending on what you specify. I've heard their customer service is very good also. One complaint I've heard is that the remote is "cheap".

You can find region-free players all the way down to around $40 but like everything else, you get what you pay for. One inexpensive that was in vogue last year that is still readily available is the Phillips 642 that can be found at any Walmart for under $60 and the hack is ridiculously easy. One word of warning, though. I've read that you when you turn it off, the progressive scan setting shuts itself off and it isn't apparent from the menu when you go back and check. It still indicates that it is in progressive scan mode so you need to disable it, and the re-enable it which is kind of a pain in the ass but otherwise it is a decent player.

I have a Toshiba 4900 that I bought for $88 about 3 years ago that I love but it is next to impossible to find any more.

...and to bring us slightly back on topic, I ordered Faust on Saturday and it should be arriving this week!

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david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
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#120 Post by david hare » Wed Sep 06, 2006 11:52 pm

Schreck told me a while ago he'd bought a region free PAL/NTSC Pioneer player in NYC which he liked a lot.

Schreckeroo???

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Darth Lavender
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2006 2:24 pm

#121 Post by Darth Lavender » Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:11 am

Having just watched this DVD for the third time (this time, with the commentary) I thought I'd take a moment to weigh in with my opinions.

Perhaps, later, I'll take the time to make an in-depth posting about the film itself (possibly my favourite silent movie of all time,) but the moment I'll confine my post to the merits and flaws of the DVD...

- Firstly, the interlacing; On my first viewing, I watched the movie on a computer screen with no idea that there would be interlacing (I already new that MoC, commendably, tends to release NTSC versions instead of PAL>NTSC conversions, so when I saw the artefacts, I thought at first it must be an optical illusion or problem with my computer) and by about thirty minutes into the movie it was quite impossible not to notice it, especially on Mephisto's new costume (the sword, the creases and folds in the cape, etc.)
- Second viewing, on my new LCD television, properly calibrated, etc. was even worse.
- Third viewing; I had the idea of tuning the 'sharpness' right down to minimum (which, in part, negates the point of a high-quality DVD release) but at least the interlacing was finally bearable. Mostly non-existant, except for an occasional shot here and there.

I'll get back to my thoughts on the acceptability of this, later. Firstly, I'd like to offer a review of the extra-features...

Basically, unlike the transfer, I'm very pleased with the extras. But, as is my habit, I'll dwell on those points were I think there's some opportunity for tiny improvements...

- The commentators have been discussed elsewhere. Engaging and informative, but in future DVD releases it might be nice to have an onscreen glossary (in the form of a subtitle track,) just ten or fifteen subtitles over the course of the film should do it; enough to clarify terms like 'chiaroscuro' or, more importantly, to clarify the names of the various foreign films which are mentioned (titles from a foreign language are easy enough to recognise when written, but a bit of a problem to understand when only spoken.)

- As a concept, I very much liked the Tony Raynes interview (simple, one-shot camera set-up, without a distracting background, and recorded in black&white so as not to be jarring with the film,) but, I did find it a little hard to sit through. That sort of presentation might work well on shorter pieces, but I wonder if the 40 minute interview might have worked better as a half-length non-scene-specific commentary track (on the export version, if one doesn't want to take up further space on the domestic's bitrate)

- Haven't watched the comparison yet, so I shan't comment there.

- The harp-score is an excellent addition. I think a minimalist score is probably the best way to appreciate most silent movies (for years, I saw Faust only on video, with a similarly effective solo-piano score.) It may not be perfect for supporting the heavier horror moments, but it certainly isn't distracting and that's what matters to most to me. As for supporting the horror/melodrama scenes, and the various other advantages of a full-orchestral type score, fortunately we have...

- Extra points for the inclusion of two scores (although I haven't listened to the orchestral score yet) an additional score is always a wonderful extra with plenty or replay value.

- The booklets have been discussed, extensively, elsewere. I agree, it's splendid.

- I'm also inclined to award considerable points (whatever that means) for the 'straight to the menu screen' format, and the refreshingly polite wording of the copyright warning.

My recommendation; the unacceptable transfer flaw prevents me from giving this a recommendation to casual buyers. (Actually, I recently considered, and decided against buying a copy of MoC's "Spione" due entirely to reports of a similar flaw)
If, however, you absolutely must have this film on DVD (as I do) then MoC (or, Divisa Red, if you find it cheaply) is the way to go (still way ahead of all the 'export print' DVDs)

That ends my comment; incidentally, MoC and/or Amazon.uk recently dropped the prices on many of the series to 9.95 (were's the pound key?) so, after checking here on the quality of the transfers and extras, I ordered a few more which I may review, later, if I have time.

Post Scriptum - For those who suggest "not looking at the transfer flaws," I'd suggest that you've kind of missed the whole point of silent-movies. Certainly, what I love about the expressionist classics (and some of the early cinerama) is that the viewer is not just presented with a series of images, but with a series of immense tableux which he is free to explore. Studying every detail of the frame is the fun of these movies :D

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GringoTex
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am

#122 Post by GringoTex » Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:53 am

Darth Lavender wrote: - Second viewing, on my new LCD television, properly calibrated, etc. was even worse. classics (and some of the early cinerama) is that the viewer is not just presented with a series of images, but with a series of immense tableux which he is free to explore. Studying every detail of the frame is the fun of these movies
Your dvd player have a film/video/automatic setting? Put it on video or automatic, and the interlacing jaggies should disapear.

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vogler
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 8:42 am
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#123 Post by vogler » Sun Jan 28, 2007 12:24 pm

Darth Lavender wrote:Post Scriptum - For those who suggest "not looking at the transfer flaws," I'd suggest that you've kind of missed the whole point of silent-movies. Certainly, what I love about the expressionist classics (and some of the early cinerama) is that the viewer is not just presented with a series of images, but with a series of immense tableux which he is free to explore. Studying every detail of the frame is the fun of these movies :D
I think a lot of us try to watch the film rather than the transfer. It is possible to study every detail of the film frame (as created my Murnau) without looking for flaws in the transfer - the two are very separate things as far as I'm concerned. I don't go out of my way to look for flaws and so I rarely notice them. Some people may notice them more than others I suppose. Personally I find there to be little wrong with this transfer (and Spione looks great to me) but if I examine it with the intention of finding faults I could certainly find a few but I don't see the point in doing that.

I watch all sorts of rare silents in horrible quality VHS or shitty budget dvds and if I spent the whole time worrying about evidence of an analogue source, pixellation and any number of defects then I'd be missing out on a huge number of magnificent films that I'd otherwise not get a chance to see. The bootleg DVD of Kurutta Ippeji for example is absolutely hideous but I still found it to be an incredibly enjoyable film viewing experience. It's almost like looking through the transfer to see the film that was the source. If I insisted on a top notch Criterion quality transfer for all silent films then I would be very disappointed most of the time and miss out on the opportunity to see all kinds of obscure and classic European silents. I know a lot of people have complained about 'jaggies' with the Faust dvd but I just don't see it - I'm too busy enjoying Murnau.

This disc is also progressive, not interlaced, although there were issues regarding various conversion processes (Nick explained this earlier in the thread although I'm not sure I understood entirely). Basically this dvd looks pretty damn good to me which is why I consider it one of the best dvds of 2006. I'm not the DVDBeaver type.

I sense more shaking of collective fists.
Last edited by vogler on Sun Jan 28, 2007 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#124 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Jan 28, 2007 12:31 pm

Darth Lavender wrote:Having . Engaging and informative, but in future DVD releases it might be nice to have an onscreen glossary (in the form of a subtitle track,) just ten or fifteen subtitles over the course of the film should do it; enough to clarify terms like 'chiaroscuro' or, more importantly, to clarify the names of the various foreign films which are mentioned (titles from a foreign language are easy enough to recognise when written, but a bit of a problem to understand when only spoken.)
I think it's safe to say that the best thing to do if you don't understand something you see or hear in a film, or in it's scholarly extras, is explore further with outside sources. A scholarly commentary on a masterpiece of this high pedigree sort of assumes you know certain basic things about the general world (film) in which it exists. Exploring in the world beyond the film is the joy of discovery. The dvd is there to further your education regarding the film-- not make you an educated man (not meant in an insulting way, but in a very general way) prior to digesting the contents of the dvd. Where does it end-- how are the guys who put it together supposed to guage a mean average of "known/not known"?

By mentioning films you may never have heard of, they are leading you to the well. Take a sip-- and dive in if you like the taste! Explore, man.

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MichaelB
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#125 Post by MichaelB » Sun Jan 28, 2007 12:53 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:I think it's safe to say that the best thing to do if you don't understand something you see or hear in a film, or in it's scholarly extras, is explore further with outside sources. A scholarly commentary on a masterpiece of this high pedigree sort of assumes you know certain basic things about the general world (film) in which it exists. Exploring in the world beyond the film is the joy of discovery.
That said, the primary inspiration for the Quay Brothers Dictionary that makes up most of the booklet accompanying the BFI release (and, as far as I can see, the Zeitgeist one too) was the fact that the Quays namedropped so many obscure Central and Eastern European artists in the commentaries and interviews that I thought it would be useful supplying mini-biographies - and the dictionary took off from there.

And I've had loads of feedback from people telling me how helpful it was - there's not a huge amount of info in each individual entry, but it does provide a powerful incentive to explore further, which was exactly what both the Quays and I wanted.

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