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February 27, 2009


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Tony Dayoub


This post is a great way of reframing the debate on film grain in the Blu-ray realm. You are correct that each film that runs into this issue should be considered on a case by case basis.

Friedkin's "French Connection" revision seems to be done in the spirit of fulfilling the intent he had at the project's inception: presenting a raw, gritty, take on crime in New York. In Aradillas' interview with Roizman, I inferred from his attitude that Roizman was more pissed off at not having been consulted than anything else.

You are correct that had Disney been alive today, he would have certainly opted to clean the grain off of "Pinocchio." And had Wilder been alive he probably wouldn't have opted for the same on "Sunset Boulevard" (but that one is arguable, so know what... err on the side of caution, and leave it as is).

Each film should be examined within its individual situational context, perhaps even by a historian on the level of Harris when the director is unavailable, to determine whether or not the deletion of grain is warranted or not.

The First Bill C

My personal problem with the Lowry restorations--at least up to PINOCCHIO, which I haven't had a chance to watch yet--is that they tend to take it a step farther than grain removal, erasing any trace of William Blake's "infernal method" from them by digitally scouring away brushstrokes and the like, which in fact you only really notice when they're gone. What I love about those HiDef Looney Tunes cartoons on THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD BD is that Warner didn't succumb to that same corporate vanity.

Glenn Kenny

@The First Bill C: Point taken. The surfaces of these films have been burnished...but not, I think, to the point where the beauty and the humanity of the animation is sacrificed to a digital sheen. In fact, watching "Pinocchio" in this version, such corruption never entered my mind. I should also note that, for all its corporate vanity, DIsney did not correct "Pinocchio"'s most glaring continuity gaffe: the disappearing/reappearing sleeping cap of Geppetto in the scene where Pinocchio sets his finger on fire is retained, in all its trainspotter glory.


Thank you! I was wondering about the 70th anniversary thing. I kept walking by ads and wondering how they managed to produce two hand-drawn full-length films in 1939. Those snaps look absolutely gorgeous. If I ever get over my childhood terror of the little boy who turns into a donkey (and, um, buy a Blu-ray player and an HD TV) I'll have to get my hands on this.

D Cairns

My own view is that any version of a film which uses modern technology to achieve a look not available to the film's original makers is in effect a new work.

The film's director may have the moral right to do this, and the copyright owner may have the legal right to do this, and the result may or may not be an improvement on what was available before, but there's also an obligation to make available the best version possible or what was made in 1940 -- otherwise you're erasing or obscuring film history.

My objection to colorization isn't that it's butt-ugly (which it generally is), but that it's a lie. My objection to George Lucas's revised Star Warses isn't that they're inferior to the original cuts (which they are), it's that they obscure what he originally made.

The danger is that too many people are ceasing to watch old movies. Making old movies new in this way just adds to the problem.

Having said all that, I'm very curious to see this.

Account Deleted

'Pinocchio' is a beautiful and enduring work of art, by far the best Disney film. I love it even more for being the inspiration behind two of my favourite films, Gilliam's 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen' and Spielberg's 'A.I. Artificial Intelligence'.

Steve Winer

You should know that there has been extensive discussions in the animation community about the accuracy of these "restorations". Many believe that the discs, though beautiful, are inaccurate reproductions, whose colors have been "tweaked" to modern tastes. There were particularly vocal objections to the recent "Peter Pan" disc to the extent that some recommended the previous un-restored disc to the new release. I've also heard objections to the new "Sleeping Beauty" and am beginning to hear the same thing about Pinocchio. Since it's my favorite animated feature, I've already ordered it, but "caveat emptor" indeed.

Glenn Kenny

@Steve Winer: I will seek out those discussions you mention, but if you could cite them with links for the benefit of readers here, that would be much appreciated. As far as I'm concerned, the proof is in the pudding. As far as the colors are concerned, I think the snapshot from my display and the images taken directly off the SD DVD of "Pinocchio" testify to the truth of this transfer. The colors are, to my eye, very much of their time. Look at the subtle aqua on the undersides of the tuna—nothing pumped up there. And I feel that as far as "Sleeping Beauty" is concerned, viewing the DVD on a properly calibrated display yields superb, true-to-the-original results.


Disney I pay attention to on this, if for no other reason than their standard-def DVD sets show just how historically minded the home video division is. Yeah, they've got plenty of "cross-promotional" crap (the most egregious is probably on the Cinderella set with "Cinderella Moments" in sports courtesy ESPN Classic), but they really dig into those archives.


I'm inclined to associate movie cartoon grain with the awful paper comic books were printed on when I was little. I don't miss the grain when I look at current, super-clean reproduction of the original art in new graphic novels. Haven't seen the Blu-Ray versions of classic animation yet, but I don't think I'll miss the grain.

Steve Winer

Here are a few links to comments on Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi's
Cartoon Brew blog, and an overview on the Peter Pan problem. The Peter Pan comment includes a link to some frame comparisons --unfortunately a similar link in the Sleeping Beauty comment seems to have disappeared.
I couldn't find anything on Pinocchio and your frame grabs look great, so I'm hoping for the best. Admittedly, these arguments can get pretty arcane.





Could anyone shed any light on the controversy re the dvd release of Ironweed? There is much comment on amazon.com regarding the aspect ratio, which is apparently full-screen, with one poster's emailed reply from the distributors Lion's Gate stating that there is no plan for a widescreen release. A later posting states that it was never shot in widescreen.

Pete Apruzzese

As a 1987 theatrical release, Ironweed was certainly composed for 1.85 widescreen. I've never handled a 35mm print of it, but I would guess it was shot in full frame, but composed to be matted for 1.85 widescreen. Standard practice for 99% of 1.85 widescreen films. I'll bet Lion's Gate is using an older full-frame video master rather than a newly-done film transfer.


@Dave Cairns --

__________X Co-sign.

best regards,
The Siren

P.S. I have philosophical problems with Pinocchio. Even as a child, the idea that simply playing hooky one day meant you would be turned into a pack animal and never see your mother again was Way Too Much. Pinocchio's sin is innocence and trust as much as it is untruthfulness. But the movie is unbelievably beautiful, possibly the pinnacle of Disney animation. So in that sense I share Glenn's love.

Tom Russell

While we're talking about aspect ratios: I want a widescreen dvd of "Arthur", damn it. I actually have a video I recorded off TCM with "Arthur" in 1.85, but I did something wrong and there's no audio. (Actually, there is audio, but it sounds like an angry bear/demon growling at me and not anything like Arthur.) I suppose I could hook up the fullscreen dvd for the audio and a VCR for the visual, but really, things would be a whole lot easier if they just released it in widescreen.


Thanks, Pete, for the feedback on Ironweed - it will be very interesting to hear comments on the quality of the transfer if, as you believe, it was done from an old video master.
Re Arthur: i have a region 2 Warners dvd and it is 1.85 ratio, so it's crazy there is no widescreen region 1 available. Who knows, with the proposed remake, we may get a usa remaster of the original...

John McElwee

Wouldn't it be fascinating to view "Pinocchio" in side-by-side comparison --- the Blu-Ray and a 35mm IB Technicolor print (preferably one on nitrate stock). That would give us the surest insight as to how presentation of this film has evolved (or devolved?).

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