BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

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SilentsPlease

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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostMon Dec 07, 2015 6:56 pm

Mark Zimmer wrote:Thanks for the screenshots. Is the entire movie tinted moss green? It looks pretty bad---another instance of heavy handed tinting by BFI to the point you can't see anything? I'll stick with the Kino version on this one.


There are all kinds of colors, from untinted, red, sepia, to blue, green, etc., with varying saturation of every color.
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bigshot

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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostMon Dec 07, 2015 7:00 pm

I didn't check, but the chapter stops seem to be dropped in mechanically every ten minutes. They don't appear to relate to specific things happening in the film.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostMon Dec 07, 2015 7:26 pm

As someone who occasionally masters a DVD, I've wondered how useful a chapter menu really is. For something like the Melies shorts, sure, you want a menu to take you to a particular film. But for something like BoTN, that you would normally watch in sequence, do you really need anything other than maybe a way to start at the intermission, and some useful stops along the way so that you can click until you get to the part you want? I usually find it easier just to click forwards on the chapter button than to navigate to the third chapter menu and figure out what the guy mastering the DVD called a particular scene.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostMon Dec 07, 2015 7:28 pm

SilentsPlease wrote:
Allen Perkins wrote:Looks amazing, for an original negative that was thought to be heavily worn. Gives me hope for other silent and early sound film negatives that have yet to resurface. Thanks for the screenshots, SilentsPlease!

What is the basis for BFI/Photoplay's tinting scheme? Did they follow contemporary specifications? I would hope they didn't choose these colors randomly or out of personal preference.


You're welcome. I couldn't find any screenshots so I did my own, as the differences are quite noteworthy. "Original negative" is probably misleading. A poster earlier said it was from the OCN, but it decidedly was not. The included booklet says the source is a 35mm safety color negative copied from the 1921 reissue's *positive*. So the source is a positive, not a negative. The booklet doesn't mention that the tinting was altered, so we may infer that the tinting that we see adheres to the source. For the bonus films, the booklet does mention some of the sources are black-and-white, so we can infer that tinting was added for them. One more minor quibble is that the BFI Blu-ray has no chapter menu, but it does have chapter stops. So you have to blindly use your remote to change chapter.


I stand corrected and am still very impressed. The tinting does have a more organic look than most video tints I've seen, so I wouldn't be surprised if it's part of the source. Considering this looks so good despite being a few generations from the negatives, I really wonder what the source for Kino's transfer was, and its generation.

Does this closely adhere to the 1921 reissue or is it an attempt to construct a version more closely resembling the ones that circulated during the 1910s?
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostMon Dec 07, 2015 11:38 pm

Allen Perkins wrote:I really wonder what the source for Kino's transfer was, and its generation.


The Kino Blu-ray was likely based on the same source used for the old 2002 DVD, which contains the 1993 restoration by David Shepard. That means the source is pretty old -- made more obvious when seen next to BFI's better print.

Allen Perkins wrote:Does this closely adhere to the 1921 reissue or is it an attempt to construct a version more closely resembling the ones that circulated during the 1910s?


Griffith started revising the film shortly after its original 1915 release, and continued well into the 1920s and 30s. That means surviving prints may vary in content from print to print, and may not contain the original 1915 version at all. Because of this, I'm currently comparing the Kino and BFI discs side by side, as there may be differences in footage, perhaps many differences, since Kino and BFI clearly used different sources. When Cohen's Intolerance Blu-ray came out, I compared it to early DVDs and found lots of differences, which I posted here.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Dec 08, 2015 8:47 am

I found a couple of differences so far. In the opening, the Kino Blu-ray doesn't have the title card "produced exclusively by D.W. Griffith" that is on the BFI Blu-ray. But BFI is missing one shot that is on Kino. Early in the second part of the film, after the title card that says Silas Lynch makes Piedmont his headquarters, the Kino Blu-ray has an extra shot of Lynch getting off his carriage, a shot that the BFI Blu-ray doesn't have.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Dec 08, 2015 1:40 pm

The supplements point out that Griffith worked on re-editing the film for months after its original release. Because of this, it's hard to know which cut is definitive. They had the musical score with notes from the first release and they adapted that to work with the print that they had.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Dec 08, 2015 2:42 pm

I seem to recall stories that Griffith would go to MOMA and recut his stuff decades after its original release. Unlike some fan-atics who think a once-cut film should be locked in amber, he evidently saw the medium as truly plastic.

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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Dec 08, 2015 4:45 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:
silentmovies742 wrote:...With regards to the latter, films such as Greed, The Crowd, Isn't Life Wonderful, Brown of Harvard, Old Ironsides, The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg and others have never made the transition from VHS to DVD, let alone Blu-ray.


Actually, all those except Old Ironsides & Isn't Life Wonderful are available on DVD in excellent prints with excellent scores (in this country, that is!) thanks to TCM, which has broadcast all of them, and of course many more. Everything aired by TCM is copied by the numerous agents of the free-enterprise system known as grey-market dealers. No, they aren't sold in fancy plastic cases with colorful artwork & frivolous "extras" (for which I don't give a damn), but the films themselves are available on DVD to those who take the trouble to look for them at anywhere from $6-$8.

But the ones on YT I mentioned can't be found in better, or even "watchable," editions.


No-one anywhere can class bootleg discs as official release, nor should they. They serve the purpose of providing films that are currently unavailable, but that is not in any shape or form the way these films should be available.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Dec 08, 2015 7:14 pm

>No-one anywhere can class bootleg discs as official release<

No one ever has done that here, that I've ever seen.

>They serve the purpose of providing films that are currently unavailable<

And to see the films is the point. Until watched, they are just so much celluloid in a can.

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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Dec 08, 2015 8:38 pm

silentmovies742 wrote:No-one anywhere can class bootleg discs as official release, nor should they. They serve the purpose of providing films that are currently unavailable, but that is not in any shape or form the way these films should be available.


Are you quite sure, seriously, you know what I'm talking about? Films aired on TCM are generally the best available restorations, or, if not "state of the art" 4K enhancements (assuming you swallow the blather about them), at the very least, first-rate editions, with superb scores. So what more do you want--except the plastic case, & the trivial "extras" on "official" releases, such as trailers; I've seen hundreds, and spit on them all. (Though if one has a special interest in outrageous hyperbole, I'll grant they're interesting in that respect.)
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Dec 08, 2015 9:59 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:
silentmovies742 wrote:No-one anywhere can class bootleg discs as official release, nor should they. They serve the purpose of providing films that are currently unavailable, but that is not in any shape or form the way these films should be available.


Are you quite sure, seriously, you know what I'm talking about? Films aired on TCM are generally the best available restorations, or, if not "state of the art" 4K enhancements (assuming you swallow the blather about them), at the very least, first-rate editions, with superb scores. So what more do you want--except the plastic case, & the trivial "extras" on "official" releases, such as trailers; I've seen hundreds, and spit on them all. (Though if one has a special interest in outrageous hyperbole, I'll grant they're interesting in that respect.)


Well, firstly it depends on who you want to see the film. A small group of collectors who happen to know about the grey market DVDs or the opportunity for them to reach a wider, if still niche, audience?

Secondly, the more films that make it to official DVD, the more silent film is being able to be supported by us consumers and thus encouraging yet more releases.

Thirdly, supporting grey market releases just because they are the only way to get a film is a make-do-and-mend situation at best, and a much better way forward would be for the missing films to be released officially through the Archive labels - particularly when the films are shown on American TV in prints good enough to sell and already with usable scores.

Fourthly, a lack of official release prohibits use of any of these films in the classroom, lectures, seminars, and so on as universities, colleges etc are not permitted to show films from grey market sources or recorded from TV (although the way we record from TV prohibits the latter in such institutions anyway these days), and neither can they be held in university or public libraries - and the rule in most universities (in the UK at least) is that a film can't be shown as part of a course unless it is also available from the university library.

So, getting back to the point that was being raised, which was whether we need a fourth, fifth or sixth "improvement" of Nosferatu or BOAN or Phantom on official DVD on Blu-ray or whether a wider variety of titles would be more welcome, it seems to me the latter would be preferable every time.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostWed Dec 09, 2015 8:22 am

silentmovies742 wrote:...a much better way forward would be for the missing films to be released officially through the Archive labels...


Well, who's holding them back? Not me. The harsh reality is that the market isn't large enough to support more than a dribble of "important" releases, leaving the more obscure films (often my own favorites) orphans in the storm.

So, getting back to the point that was being raised, which was whether we need a fourth, fifth or sixth "improvement" of Nosferatu or BOAN or Phantom on official DVD on Blu-ray or whether a wider variety of titles would be more welcome, it seems to me the latter would be preferable every time.


About that point, as I've already said, we are in accord. The Nosferatu & Phantom mania strikes me as a sure symptom of arrested development, cinematically speaking.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostWed Dec 09, 2015 9:45 am

>silentmovies742 wrote:
...a much better way forward would be for the missing films to be released officially through the Archive labels...<

Of course it would be better; and AGAIN, I don't see anyone saying that grey market (or broadcast-sourced, which is not the same thing) is the optimum.

But what obviously spreads the good word about Classic Films best? Actually viewing the films.

And if that can only be done in less-than-perfect ways, then that is just the reality of the situation. How many folks here developed their knowledge and love of this material by way of 16mm tv prints, 8mm, etc.?

One does what one can with what one has.

Happy holidays,
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostMon Feb 22, 2016 8:06 pm

Photoplay Productions' Patrick Stanbury has written an article about their restoration and the BFI Blu-ray:
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Feb 23, 2016 2:31 pm

Brent wrote:Photoplay Productions' Patrick Stanbury has written an article about their restoration and the BFI Blu-ray:


Thank you for this article it cleared up for me the BFI blu ray. I now have no reason not to pick this up.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Feb 23, 2016 5:12 pm

jacksparrow900 wrote:
Brent wrote:Photoplay Productions' Patrick Stanbury has written an article about their restoration and the BFI Blu-ray:


Thank you for this article it cleared up for me the BFI blu ray. I now have no reason not to pick this up.


Agreed. I don't see how it can be bettered in any significant way for home video, given the materials that they've assembled.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostWed Feb 24, 2016 3:35 am

I'm glad you both like it; thank you. It should be read by anyone sitting on the fence about making a purchase or who has one of the three previous Blu-rays and wants to (massively) upgrade it.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostWed Feb 24, 2016 12:33 pm

Brent wrote:Photoplay Productions' Patrick Stanbury has written an article about their restoration and the BFI Blu-ray:


This seems to be the same article in the booklet of the BFI Blu-ray.

I love the picture quality as shown on the Blu-ray. No doubt the use of the original negative helped. But as I said in an earlier post, the primary source used in their restoration was a *positive* from 1921.

The article above may be misleading as to how much of the original camera negative was used. I had to read between the lines to realize that it was probably not much.

Note that at some point, the article says that even with the 1921 positive, "some key sections [were] either missing or damaged". Therefore, "to fill these gaps we copied a duplicate fine grain held by the BFI."

Later, it says,"The [BFI] sections were all too obviously inadequate. They would have to be replaced."

And what did they replace it with? The article says later that they replaced it with "original neg or good quality pos".

In other words, they replaced those "gaps" with original negative and another positive. By "gaps", it may imply that not much footage was involved here. And not only OCN was used, but also another positive. In short, only a subset of the "gaps" were composed of OCN. So the impression I got was that only a small fraction of a small fraction was from OCN, i.e. not much. It would be great if we were given some idea how big those "gaps" really were, and some kind of percentages of the amounts of OCN and positives used in this restoration.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostWed Feb 24, 2016 1:47 pm

It really doesn't matter. I have the BFI disk and the Kino one, and the BFI is head and shoulders above the Kino in every way... the film looks more consistent and better quality, the score is better and it sounds better, the supplements are better... You can't find more attention to detail than was lavished on this release. First class all the way.

I seriously doubt with all the recutting this film went through over the years that it would be possible to find a single copy of the film that has everything in it. The only thing you can do is take a spit in the wind and cull the best from several versions into something that plays close to the notes in the original orchestral score.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostThu Feb 25, 2016 8:03 am

Is that Flicker Alley release of the Photoplay version ever going to materialize?
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Mar 15, 2016 6:53 am

Scoundrel wrote:" Kino used the Lincoln one-sheet on their DVD release about ten years ago.."

I can't say I remember that one Jack.

KINO used a photo of Griffith on the Laserdisc.
Lumivision used a battle scene on their LD.
The Image DVD was a Klan rider on a cream colored snapper case.
KINO has used battle scenes on their DVD's and the most recent Blu ray.

The only version I've seen that used the Lincoln one sheet was from Eureka.uk

I'll point out that my Republic Pictures Home Video / Landmark Laservision LD edition of Birth features Lincoln's assassination on its jacket front, showing Booth dropping from the president's box, flags behind him. It appears to be a drawing modeled on the movie scene. The jacket back contains next to no useful info about the release. All we are told is "Film masters courtesy of the Killiam Collection" (and the music track is in digital stereo with CX noise reduction). I've not watched it in age so can't report on its merits or lack thereof. I really need a new Birth. I wonder if buying a region free blu-ray player is worth considering with 4k players and discs supposedly about to take over the market?
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Mar 15, 2016 12:09 pm

Whether you should wait on 4K depends on your monitor. If it's under 50 inches and not 4K, there really isn't any reason to get a 4K player. The difference between 1080p and 4K isn't visible without a very large screen. And for a silent film like Birth of a Nation, you would be unlikely to be able to detect any difference at all. I have a projector and a ten foot screen and 1080p looks perfect to me. I have no plans to go 4K myself.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Mar 15, 2016 12:10 pm

" I wonder if buying a region free blu-ray player is worth considering with 4k players and discs supposedly about to take over the market? "

UHD or 4K Players are on the horizon, but it will be a while before they are offered as region free.

I would guess they would be backward compatible to allow you to play your older format blu rays and DVDs
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostTue Mar 15, 2016 2:45 pm

Scoundrel wrote:" I wonder if buying a region free blu-ray player is worth considering with 4k players and discs supposedly about to take over the market? "

UHD or 4K Players are on the horizon, but it will be a while before they are offered as region free.

I would guess they would be backward compatible to allow you to play your older format blu rays and DVDs


Ultra HD Blu-rays have no region encoding. And yes, UHD BD players are backward compatible.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostSun Feb 05, 2017 1:55 pm

The screen captures looks very good for a original 1915 print. Indeed modern copy form the original print.


"For the film, we knew exactly what we needed. In the ’70s, an original 35mm nitrate print of the 1921 reissue, tinted and toned, had surfaced, and 16mm copies of this had been available to collectors. Both Kevin Brownlow and I had bought these, and been stunned by the way the extra clarity, and the tinting, enhanced the film. So for our new version the obvious choice was to use the 35mm original print. This proved more of a challenge than we expected, but eventually film researcher David Thaxton tracked it down for us at the Museum of Modern Art, who agreed to allow us to make a new 35mm negative, in colour to preserve the tints."


I don't understand one thing. If the original 1915theatrical was such a succsses that so many prints was shot from camera negative, making it worn, that was required to make new prints from original prints, making a huge drop in image quality (due poor duplication stock of that time), how could a 1921 reissue have quality original prints shot from camera negative ???
Last edited by All Darc on Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostMon Feb 06, 2017 11:04 am

I'm sure there were more than just one reason why the original negatives became damaged. In the 1921 reissue, the goal was to create the ultimate version of the film, and obviously they had access to better elements than we do almost a century later. It makes sense that the reissue might be a better source than the original elements at this point. I have both blu-rays and the proof is in the pudding. The BFI set looks much better than the Kino, and it has better supplements and packaging too.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostMon Feb 06, 2017 3:23 pm

I can vouch for what Bigshot says: I bought a region-free blu ray player mainly so I could view the BFI restorations of both Birth of a Nation and Intolerance, and those blu rays are stunning, far better than the Kino editions.
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostMon Feb 06, 2017 4:29 pm

Dean Thompson wrote:I can vouch for what Bigshot says: I bought a region-free blu ray player mainly so I could view the BFI restorations of both Birth of a Nation and Intolerance, and those blu rays are stunning, far better than the Kino editions.


I can't find any evidence of a BFI Blu-ray of Intolerance - did you mean the Masters of Cinema version?
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Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

PostMon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm

My guess is that he's referring to the Cohen Film Group version of INTOLERANCE.
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