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Groggy
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« Reply #345 on: May 21, 2012, 04:59:24 AM »


Thanks. Afro

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« Reply #346 on: May 21, 2012, 05:59:14 AM »

Are you making that assumption from the material that's on YouTube or has somebody actually confirmed this? I don't know why they would release inferior material on the Internet but that's always a possibility.

According to what one of the restoration guys says (excerpted in MatViola's article above):
Quote
Technically, the homogeneity of the unedited scenes was the biggest problem, as unfortunately the negatives for these scenes no longer exist. The only materials available were discarded strips of working positives which had been badly preserved.

Making this task even more difficult was the fact that the working positives had been printed without particular care, as originally they were part of the working copies which circulated between the assistant editors and sound editors as a work reference. The images in these sequences were ruined, not just by their poor state of preservation, but also through their use as working copies.

Looking at the clips on Youtube the loss in quality is evident. At first I didn't think the Youtube stuff was an accurate representation of the final images, but after reading the quote above it is what I now fear.

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« Reply #347 on: May 21, 2012, 07:02:06 AM »

if the difference in quality is that different, then I don't know if anyone will ever truly consider the 4:15 version the "definitive version." The only way it could possibly be is if it flowed seamlessly, and this sure does not.

I wish that woman who is talking over that YouTube clip would shut the hell up so we could see the scenes!

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« Reply #348 on: May 21, 2012, 09:11:44 AM »

On Twitter I asked the guy who wrote that glowing review on Indiewire, Simon Abrams, if there was a discernible difference in the visual quality of the new scenes or if they were seamlessly integrated and he said, "discernible, for sure."

Not good.

Mat

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« Reply #349 on: May 21, 2012, 09:46:10 AM »

The recent Metropolis "restoration" did something similar, intercutting footage of markedly inferior quality into the standard cut. The contrast was jarring, making the viewing experience really unpleasant.

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« Reply #350 on: May 21, 2012, 10:49:52 AM »

Apparently there was title card shown stating that the newly restored material was originally printed for reference purposes and that they cleaned them up as much as they could.

They'll looks less distracting by the time they make it to DVD but still...

I'm happy to be finally seeing these scenes and at least they didn't need to be re-dubbed!     

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« Reply #351 on: May 21, 2012, 12:51:18 PM »

Still, they should have been supplied as extras on a new DVD/Blu-ray, not re-integrated into the film.

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« Reply #352 on: May 21, 2012, 01:12:56 PM »

Still, they should have been supplied as extras on a new DVD/Blu-ray, not re-integrated into the film.

For those who will always consider the 229MV as the definitive version, and these new scenes just as extra features, worry not: they will always sell dvd's of the 229MV; this new version will not change that.

Did you want them to issue new dvd's with the 229MV of the movie, plus these new scenes as special features? No way would that happen. As soon as they did that, unofficial "fan edits" would be made, of the whole movie with those scenes added in the appropriate places. And I would try as hard as I could to get one of those fan edits.... Once you are going to buy a new dvd just to get these scenes, why not have them put back in so you could watch what the movie looks like with these scenes? even if this version won't be the "definitive version," issuing a dvd of the entire movie including those scenes is the only sensible thing IMO.

I think that having dvd's of both the 229MV and this new version works just fine. Just like GBU, where both versions are available on dvd, which should satisfy fans of both versions

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« Reply #353 on: May 21, 2012, 02:57:23 PM »

Since I seem like a close-minded ass through this thread, I'll clarify my position. I'm not uninterested in seeing the restored version. However, based on evidence presented, I'm very skeptical that it will be worthwhile.

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« Reply #354 on: May 21, 2012, 04:03:04 PM »

According to what one of the restoration guys says (excerpted in MatViola's article above):
----
Looking at the clips on Youtube the loss in quality is evident. At first I didn't think the Youtube stuff was an accurate representation of the final images, but after reading the quote above it is what I now fear.
Thanks. A sad story, to be sure. It's incredible how people (in 1984!) or Leone himself did not preserve the original negatives.

However I gotta disagree with you here:
The recent Metropolis "restoration" did something similar, intercutting footage of markedly inferior quality into the standard cut. The contrast was jarring, making the viewing experience really unpleasant.
I've only seen the movie once - the 2010 restoration on a big screen with live music - so I can't really compare it with the better known version, but I didn't mind the newly added material so much. Sure, I noticed the huge difference in the image quality but it didn't really bother me. I'm sure though that the case will be different with OUATIA as I've seen the picture before (and the color is such a huge factor).

Anyway, I'm happy if I can see the restored version as a whole because I want to see how the added scenes fit into the story/flow of the movie. If/when this version is released on DVD/BD, you can always watch the added scenes separately and still have the old version on another DVD.

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« Reply #355 on: May 21, 2012, 04:39:35 PM »

Since I seem like a close-minded ass through this thread, I'll clarify my position. I'm not uninterested in seeing the restored version. However, based on evidence presented, I'm very skeptical that it will be worthwhile.

I think that is a very fair position to take. I'd would just try to really, really keep an open mind until I see the new movie; otherwise, there is no chance that you will like it. And while I am very happy that this material was released, that is basically what i am trying to do: keep an open mind about the possibility that I may or may not view it as the definitive version, and not make any decisions until I see it.

-----------

As for the discussions on the quality: I don't know anything about this sort of technical stuff, film deterioration and preservation, and where these prints of all the footage was supposed to be stored. So I am speaking out of my ass, but for whatever it's worth I will say that I can't imagine how the hell they fucked up the preservation of the film this.

For films made decades ago, in which the belief was that after it ran in theaters for a few months it would never be seen again, I understand. Even after television came in, I don't know if they ever ran extra footage from a movie, so I understand that studios would feel no need to preserve extra footage. And even after home video began ( was it in the late 70's?) the videotapes only had the feature film and no extra features or "director's cuts," so I understand why they never felt a need to preserve the extra footage.

But with OUATIA, the running time issue is part of the story of the movie. The discussion about longer versions has been around since the day the movie was released! They have been talking about this in one way or another since forever! So how the hell they allowed it to deteriorate like this -- and not even to keep a copy; they had to track the copies down from various crazy places -- seems crazy.

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« Reply #356 on: May 21, 2012, 04:55:52 PM »

Okay, I think I'm about to make d&d's day. I found the following article (in French) which has some very interesting info, including a quote from Scorsese saying he knew Leone wanted these 20 minutes added back in. It also mentions the possibility of adding another 20 minutes to it in the near future. Alas, the article also talks a little about the graininess of the footage (though the translation isn't so good).

Here's the link: http://www.ecranlarge.com/article-details-22911.php

Here's the translation:

Announced for many months with varying lengths of time, assembly of novel Once Upon a Time in America was projected with great fanfare as part of Cannes Classics including the presence of Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern and Jennifer Connelly ( who made his film debut at 13 years for this film).

Sergio Leone's film, restored by the Cinematheque of Bologna, has been discovered for the first time in a version of 4:13. So it's 24 minutes that were uncovered novel with a careful integration even if unable to work on the material of the first generation makes it perfectly detectable new sequences. Blame it on a grain, a calibration and a definition necessarily different mounting film that we know.

Very active in this restaurant since it is its foundation, The Film Foundation, which funded the transaction through the generous donation of $ 2 million from the fashion house Gucci, Martin Scorsese told our colleagues in the World: "In the case of Once Upon a Time in America, I know that Leone wanted those twenty minutes are restored. "

We are thus dealing with the version closest to the present time - Scorsese mentioned the possibility in the near future to add another twenty minutes - of what is now called the director's cut of Once Upon a Time in America. If, again, the visual changes between the sequences is detrimental to the aesthetic harmony of the work, it is undeniable that some of the new scenes provide insight essential to the story.

If the appearance of Louise Fletcher, so far only credited in the credits, as director of the cemetery, was far more the media's failure, it is far from that was most lacking in the story. Unlike the character of Eve, the prostitute Noodles (De Niro) meets in a bar, after raping Deborah (Elizabeth McGovern) in the car. A long sequence vital to discover the dismay of Noodles, regretting his act in a night of love almost pathetic when he tries to imagine Deborah instead of Eve - he even gives his name. Right after, we also discover Deborah have a coffee before catching his train, with his face still shocked by the tragic event happened. A tragedy of the two characters who suffer in their own way and the drama that gives meaning to the much heavier exchanged brief look on the station platform.

In the final moments of the film, we discover a scene now essential to understand the impossible situation in which there is the Secretary of State Bailey (thus verily Max played by James Woods). The footage shows James Conway (Treat Williams) forcing Bailey to sign papers making him almost lose everything and suggesting starting to end his days to avoid scandal unborn awaited his appearance in court. The desire to end Max and by the hand of his old friend, is so much more understandable. And the scene to show that the big winner in history is the character of Conway, obvious metaphor for an America where workers control anyone, holds the real power.

Among other additions, less vital to the enrichment of the story, we remain skeptical about lengthening the sequence where the dips Noodles car into the sea showing his friends worried about not seeing him rise to the surface. It is not known whether the sequence was originally intended to hear what the actors were saying, but then rise in the state, only the music of Morricone is present and the minutes are not the most successful.

The sequence of discussion between Noodles and his driver (played by the producer, Arnon Milchan) before they go out to dinner with Deborah, can show a big difference in perspective on life between the two men and a rising tensions that will resonate in the driver's reaction when he condemns rape by her boss.

Finally, the reunion between Noodles and Deborah are now preceded by a scene where we see Noodles discover the actress on stage in the process of interpreting the role of Cleopatra.

The discovery of this new version of Once Upon a Time in America, was in any event, a highlight of the festival. And especially the opportunity to realize, if any were needed, how the last movie of Sergio Leone is a monumental work and may be the best film to be screened at the festival this year. When you think that the reception was lukewarm at its first presentation in May 1984.

 

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« Reply #357 on: May 21, 2012, 04:58:41 PM »

Some studios don't take film preservation all that seriously. If you read about the restoration of Lawrence of Arabia (what else am I going to talk about?), you'll see Robert Harris and Co. found much of the missing footage in beaten-up cans or stored in poorly-heated rooms. Some of it was so bad the film actually crumbled when they tried to work with it. And this for a movie that was a major box office and critical success. Maybe after OUATIA tanked Warner Bros. or whoever just threw the extra footage in the nearest vault and ignored it.

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« Reply #358 on: May 21, 2012, 05:01:37 PM »

Okay, I think I'm about to make d&d's day. I found the following article (in French) which has some very interesting info, including a quote from Scorsese saying he knew Leone wanted these 20 minutes added back in. It also mentions the possibility of adding another 20 minutes to it in the near future. Alas, the article also talks a little about the graininess of the footage (though the translation isn't so good).

Here's the link: http://www.ecranlarge.com/article-details-22911.php

Here's the translation:

Announced for many months with varying lengths of time, assembly of novel Once Upon a Time in America was projected with great fanfare as part of Cannes Classics including the presence of Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern and Jennifer Connelly ( who made his film debut at 13 years for this film).

Sergio Leone's film, restored by the Cinematheque of Bologna, has been discovered for the first time in a version of 4:13. So it's 24 minutes that were uncovered novel with a careful integration even if unable to work on the material of the first generation makes it perfectly detectable new sequences. Blame it on a grain, a calibration and a definition necessarily different mounting film that we know.

Very active in this restaurant since it is its foundation, The Film Foundation, which funded the transaction through the generous donation of $ 2 million from the fashion house Gucci, Martin Scorsese told our colleagues in the World: "In the case of Once Upon a Time in America, I know that Leone wanted those twenty minutes are restored. "

We are thus dealing with the version closest to the present time - Scorsese mentioned the possibility in the near future to add another twenty minutes - of what is now called the director's cut of Once Upon a Time in America. If, again, the visual changes between the sequences is detrimental to the aesthetic harmony of the work, it is undeniable that some of the new scenes provide insight essential to the story.

If the appearance of Louise Fletcher, so far only credited in the credits, as director of the cemetery, was far more the media's failure, it is far from that was most lacking in the story. Unlike the character of Eve, the prostitute Noodles (De Niro) meets in a bar, after raping Deborah (Elizabeth McGovern) in the car. A long sequence vital to discover the dismay of Noodles, regretting his act in a night of love almost pathetic when he tries to imagine Deborah instead of Eve - he even gives his name. Right after, we also discover Deborah have a coffee before catching his train, with his face still shocked by the tragic event happened. A tragedy of the two characters who suffer in their own way and the drama that gives meaning to the much heavier exchanged brief look on the station platform.

In the final moments of the film, we discover a scene now essential to understand the impossible situation in which there is the Secretary of State Bailey (thus verily Max played by James Woods). The footage shows James Conway (Treat Williams) forcing Bailey to sign papers making him almost lose everything and suggesting starting to end his days to avoid scandal unborn awaited his appearance in court. The desire to end Max and by the hand of his old friend, is so much more understandable. And the scene to show that the big winner in history is the character of Conway, obvious metaphor for an America where workers control anyone, holds the real power.

Among other additions, less vital to the enrichment of the story, we remain skeptical about lengthening the sequence where the dips Noodles car into the sea showing his friends worried about not seeing him rise to the surface. It is not known whether the sequence was originally intended to hear what the actors were saying, but then rise in the state, only the music of Morricone is present and the minutes are not the most successful.

The sequence of discussion between Noodles and his driver (played by the producer, Arnon Milchan) before they go out to dinner with Deborah, can show a big difference in perspective on life between the two men and a rising tensions that will resonate in the driver's reaction when he condemns rape by her boss.

Finally, the reunion between Noodles and Deborah are now preceded by a scene where we see Noodles discover the actress on stage in the process of interpreting the role of Cleopatra.

The discovery of this new version of Once Upon a Time in America, was in any event, a highlight of the festival. And especially the opportunity to realize, if any were needed, how the last movie of Sergio Leone is a monumental work and may be the best film to be screened at the festival this year. When you think that the reception was lukewarm at its first presentation in May 1984.

 

Thanks Mat. Afro

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« Reply #359 on: May 21, 2012, 05:04:42 PM »

With all this talk of film preservation, there is one point I have to make that is not really related but I have been thinking about it a lot lately and I feel it is at least somewhat related. Here goes:

It is great that with the advent of dvd's and widescreen tv's, movies are now generally being released in their original aspect ratio.

But what really irks me is that usually when I watch a dvd for a movie whose original AR is 1.85:1, the picture fills up the entire screen of my hdtv. Since hdtv's have a 1.78:1 AR, this means that they are chopping a bit off the sides of the picture! I know, the difference between 1.78:1 and 1.85:1 is very little; we "only" lose 4% off the sides. So 2% off the right side and 2% off the left side seems to be no big deal (and it is certainly far better than pan and scanning, which completely destroyed a widescreen movie). But it just irks me why then studios do this. Showing the full picture of a 1.85:1 movie on a 1.78:1 tv requires putting TINY black bars on top and bottom of the screen -- just a small fraction the size of the very large black bars that we are happy to live with horizontally for 2.35:1 movies, and vertically for 4:3 movies. If we are happy to live with the huge black bars for letterboxed or pillarboxd movies, then why do they think we wouldn't be happy living with tiny horizontal bars for 1.85:1 movies?

I think anybody here would prefer the full picture + tiny horizontal black lines, rather than filling the screen at the cost of having 2% of the picture chopped on each side. But I guess they care about mainstream idiots more than real fans like us.

What makes this even worse is that the studios should have learned their lesson by this point: how over time, formats of viewing technology continuously change; and that changing the original features of a movie for the sake of "accommodating" a particular time period can lead to permanently screwing up a work of art.

For example, what if in 20 years from now, the AR for tv's change to 2:1. For movies that were released in 1.85:1 but the dvd's in 1.78:1, will they have preserved the original theatrical aspect ratio for future home viewing formats? What will they do now  to accommodate these theoretical 2:1 tv's -- will they say, "the difference is too big, we can't cut that much to fill the screen; rather, we will live with the black bars on the sides"? or will they say, "let's just cut a bit off the top and bottom to fill the 2:1 screen"! Will they use the real 1.85:1 version as the reference print, or will these butchered 1.78:1 dvd's become the reference print?


Bottom line: home viewing in general these days is amazing (especially compared to what we had just a few years ago ; no choice except pan and scanned VHS's). With new dvd's and blu rays being released every day, mostly in original AR's, we have great access and it's wonderful. I am very thankful for that, and I know that if the worst problem we ever have is having 2% chopped off each side of 1.85:1 movies, we'll be in good shape. But I still think it is wrong; studios should have learned by now to follow a simple rule in all situations: JUST KEEP THE PICTURE AS RELEASED; WE ALWAYS WANT TO SEE THE FULL PICTURE THAT WAS SHOT, SO KEEP IT IN EXACTLY THE INTENDED ASPECT RATIO, AND WE WILL HAPPILY ACCEPT THE BLACK BARS THAT COME ALONG WITH IT. JUST KEEP THE MOVIE IN THE EXACT ASPECT RATIO IN WHICH IT WAS INTENDED, PERIOD!

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