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November 23, 2010


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Tony Dayoub

This release may have to be my first dip into the foreign Blu-ray pool.

Maybe I missed it in your review, but have any of these undergone substantial restoration? Reason I ask is because, as I've discussed with you before, I caught a restored version of "Toby Dammit" at Tribeca two years ago. However, the crew which worked on it only worked on that segment. So I'm not sure if the others were brought up to par as well.

Glenn Kenny

@ Tony: As I mentioned in the review, the transfer IS from the original negative, and GORGEOUS.

Fabian W.

Sorry to get off-topic, but when you write "And-Really-Ought-To-Watch-The-Intimations-Of-Anti-Semitism-When-He-Makes-TV-Chat-Show-Appearances", what event are you referring to?
And sorry to get even more off-topic, but do you plan to write something about that BHL-Godard-HuffPo-thing?

Glenn Kenny

Last time I was in Paris, 2007, I recall a slight uproar over Delon going on a chat show and causing an mild uproar by giving voice to some fairly reactionary notions, some of which carried the above-mentioned tinge. News of this did not make it to the States, where Delon fever is long past. In any event, my observation was more concerning Delon's public image than having to do with wanting to condemn him as an anti-semite, but I wasn't really thinking about whether that mini-scandal had much registered in the English-speaking world.

No, I'm not going to write about the BHL-Godard-HuffPo thing. It's a bit of a vexed issue that I no longer feel intellectually prepared to comment on. For me the point is no longer whether or not Godard is an anti-semite, but just what an anti-semite is, and what it means when one is discussing Godard, or any other artist. Too many times I've seen Godard's ostensible anti-semitism brought out as a cudgel to de-legtimitize him as an artist ENTIRELY; and the charge carries such a profound emotional weight there's no real getting around it. So that's one reason I opt out of the discussion for the time being.

Kent Jones

The Levy series at HuffPost is a curious undertaking, presented as a legal brief to "exonerate" Godard; in reality it's Levy’s memories of the aborted three-way collaboration between JLG, himself and Claude Lanzmann. I've always found Godard's beef with Lanzmann and SHOAH a non-issue, i.e. claiming that Lanzmann favors the word over the image because of what he doesn't show, which, by reducing the film to a series of negative choices, wholly ignores what he DOES show. There’s a fascinating moment where Godard ruminates on his father and the fact that he “may or may not have known” about the camps, and then says that “this question” (of his father, of why the camps happened) obsesses him daily and hourly. It’s relevant that he was recently planning a big budget adaptation of THE LOST by Daniel Mendelssohn. I guess it’s equally relevant that both were among his many projects that never came to be – the question is doubtlessly too immense for him to confront directly. Which is why he addressed it from another direction in the HISTOIRE(S) (there’s another interesting comment, from Godard to Lanzmann: "It took us the same amount of time, you to shoot Shoah, and I, Histoire(s) du cinema”). Anyway, it seems to me that the question of anti-semitism has been converted by the press into yet another call for a quick, definitive moral judgment. Once you’re in that territory (or as Levy calls it, “the climate of inquisition”), guilt is more or less established a priori and…then what? Burn Godard’s negatives? Shoot him at sunrise? Expunge the offending passages, like the Meir/Hitler juxtaposition in ICI ET AILLEURS? It’s all pretty pointless and takes us far, far away from the films themselves. Which, on this particular question, are always unsettled, often uncomfortable and apt to veer into the mythic, sometimes perplexing, always provocative (in some cases productively so, in other cases not so much), and frequently arriving at passages that are breathtakingly vast, monumentally haunting. Anti-semitic? As in heaping the world’s economic troubles on the shoulders of the world Jewish population and endorsing the final solution? Not on your life.

Sal C

Techie Blu-ray question - if it's region-free does that mean it can play on any old Blu-ray player or does the whole PAL/NTSC thing still enter into the equation?

Glenn Kenny

Hear, hear, Kent. My sentiments pretty much exactly.

@ Sal C: WIth Blu-ray, the PAL/NTSC incompatibility is a moot point, as HTML is an entirely different standard that's the same the world over. Region coding on High-Definition discs is applied (willy nilly, it seems) by producers and manufacturers, whereas PAL and NTSC are different technological processes. So, yes, you will get superb results on a "Spirits of the Dead" Blu-ray on a region-A locked PS3, a region-free OPPO, or what have you.

Tim Lucas

One pesky thing about region free PAL is that it is still PAL. Hence, when spot-checking my INFERNO set from Arrow, the Blu-ray disc played fine... but the standard second disc would not play in my Blu=ray deck and had to be moved over to my multi-standard deck for playback.

Thanks for the namecheck in your SPIRITS review, Glenn. This has always been a seminal title in my movie-going history and it's been my privilege to make the English soundtrack (evidently not a concern of the film's owners) available now to two different releases: the Image laserdisc and now the Arrow Blu-ray.

Norm Wilner

Sweet heavenly crap, Amy Adams is going to play Jane Fonda someday.

That Fuzzy Bastard

So anyone else out there like the Malle segment best? Toby Dammit is fun to look at, but I find the Malle the only one that's genuinely engaging and entertaining. Perhaps because I never cease being amused at the doppelganger being the good one.

Uncle Kenny

Imagine my surprise, when I went to buy a copy of this blu-ray, to discover that Amazon US is not listing it. It is listed in Amazon UK only. Arrow Films on their site [BluRay - £16.99 Cat No: FCD436] http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/index.php?tle_id=470
specifically does NOT say that it's any particular region, whereas Amazon UK says this:
Format: Colour, PAL
Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
Number of discs: 1
Classification: 18
Studio: Arrow Films
at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirits-Dead-Blu-ray-Terence-Stamp/dp/B0038AL7M4
Very frustrating. Perhaps you might amend your lovely post and straighten out the confusion.

Glenn Kenny

@ Uncle Kenny: What can I tell you; Amazon UK info is not unimpeachable. The disc plays perfectly on my Region-A locked PS3 and Hitachi plasma. I've watched it twice...at least! See also this DVD Beaver review, which states "Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)":


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