BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Post news stories and home video release announcements here.
wich2
Posts: 1574
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by wich2 » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:25 am

FlammableNitrate wrote:What do these companies have against using the original poster art?
FN, as noted upthread, that image IS based on a vintage one.

User avatar
Rodney
Posts: 2357
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:09 am
Location: Louisville, Colorado
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Rodney » Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:04 am

wich2 wrote:
FlammableNitrate wrote:What do these companies have against using the original poster art?
FN, as noted upthread, that image IS based on a vintage one.
Yes, a movie that was in circulation for years has a lot of different poster art to choose from.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"

User avatar
Jack Theakston
Posts: 1851
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:25 pm
Location: New York, USA
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Jack Theakston » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:31 pm

Not to mention that all of the BIRTH paper has that white elephant that a lot of video companies have to contend with—namely, the predominant focus of each artwork is a guy in a Ku Klux Klan uniform.
J. Theakston
"You get more out of life when you go out to a movie!"

Michael Arlt
Posts: 63
Joined: Sat May 30, 2015 8:49 pm

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Michael Arlt » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:22 pm

These posters will go over like a fart in a wetsuit in today's society since they have bad juju attached. It' a civil war picture, but when people see the posters, all the focus is on the KKK. 100 years later, that film hasn't improved race relations.

Image

Image

These are the only ones that are politically correct that will take the focus off the racial aspect.
Image

Image

FlammableNitrate
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:12 am

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by FlammableNitrate » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:34 pm

Jack Theakston wrote:Not to mention that all of the BIRTH paper has that white elephant that a lot of video companies have to contend with—namely, the predominant focus of each artwork is a guy in a Ku Klux Klan uniform.
It's not you're going to walk into Walmart and see a Birth of A Nation bluray :^)

PS, love the Lincoln one

Edit: here's another oneImage

User avatar
Jack Theakston
Posts: 1851
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:25 pm
Location: New York, USA
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Jack Theakston » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:04 am

Wal-Mart might not stock it, but you're going to see the cover on any website carrying it.

Kino used the Lincoln one-sheet on their DVD release about ten years ago. The problem is that without a bunch of other style posters as you would have seen back in the day, it awkwardly looks like a Lincoln film, which it is also not.
J. Theakston
"You get more out of life when you go out to a movie!"

User avatar
Scoundrel
Posts: 696
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:22 pm

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Scoundrel » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:12 am

" 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
Last edited by Scoundrel on Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
" You can't take life too seriously...you'll never get out of it alive."


Blackhawk Films customer

#0266462

User avatar
Jack Theakston
Posts: 1851
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:25 pm
Location: New York, USA
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Jack Theakston » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:13 am

Hmmm.. I thought it was on the Griffith Masterworks set, but I just popped that open and it's a photo cover, although there's a postcard on the inside with the Lincoln-style poster.
J. Theakston
"You get more out of life when you go out to a movie!"

FlammableNitrate
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:12 am

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by FlammableNitrate » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:08 pm

Jack Theakston wrote:Wal-Mart might not stock it, but you're going to see the cover on any website carrying it.

Kino used the Lincoln one-sheet on their DVD release about ten years ago. The problem is that without a bunch of other style posters as you would have seen back in the day, it awkwardly looks like a Lincoln film, which it is also not.
The copy I got at my local library had the Klansman and Lincoln on it. I think the company that released it was Delta Video or something.
Besides, the only people I see buying this are a tiny minority of people who already know what Birth is about and film students.

Actually, have you guys seen any Silent films at any big chain stores? The only ones I've seen lately are in those low-quality Mil-creek releases along with dozens of other "classics". Over a decade ago I saw The Lost World on a budget DVD at Walgreen's and The Dollar Tree used to have those nifty one dollar DVDs.

User avatar
Rick Lanham
Posts: 2054
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:16 pm
Location: Gainesville, FL

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:56 pm

The Silent Era site shows many of the DVD covers, including some with the clan:

http://www.silentera.com/video/birthOfANationHV.html" target="_blank

Rick

Online
User avatar
bigshot
Posts: 981
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:59 pm

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by bigshot » Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:48 pm

I got an email that Birth of a Nation just shipped from the UK. I am eager to replace the Kino blu-ray that I have never been really happy with.

silentmovies742
Posts: 533
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:42 am
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by silentmovies742 » Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:40 pm

Strange question, but does anyone actually sit down and watch Birth of a Nation for pleasure? You know, rainy afternoon, pot of tea and a piece of cake. "I know what I fancy watching..."

I ask this because people talk of "double-dipping" on a blu ray edition of the film because one looks slightly better (and I mean slightly) than the other. I'm wondering on a 1915 film how much more enjoyment can be gained from having a minutely clearer view of a member of the Ku Klux Klan?

User avatar
entredeuxguerres
Posts: 4726
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 pm
Location: Empire State

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by entredeuxguerres » Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:14 pm

silentmovies742 wrote:Strange question, but does anyone actually sit down and watch Birth of a Nation for pleasure?...
Not me. Last saw it some 25+ yrs ago, following a couple of previous viewings; quite enough! (Naturally I wouldn't be so blasé if the year was 1915, though even if the year were 1915, I'd rather, much rather, be watching DeMille's Carmen.)

User avatar
Mitch Farish
Posts: 738
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:30 am
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Mitch Farish » Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:44 pm

silentmovies742 wrote:Strange question, but does anyone actually sit down and watch Birth of a Nation for pleasure? You know, rainy afternoon, pot of tea and a piece of cake. "I know what I fancy watching..."

I ask this because people talk of "double-dipping" on a blu ray edition of the film because one looks slightly better (and I mean slightly) than the other. I'm wondering on a 1915 film how much more enjoyment can be gained from having a minutely clearer view of a member of the Ku Klux Klan?
Yeah, I watch it for pleasure. There are many fine moments in the film along with the uncomfortable ones. I do squirm some during the second part, though. It's a film that does its job to build suspense and create sympathy for the Cameron family, and I love it for that. I've heard it called a "film you love to hate." For people like me it can also be a "film you hate to love." But no way do I accept Griffith's version of history. It is preposterous. If the BFI doesn't substantially improve the image, I'm staying with the Masters of Cinema release.

User avatar
Roscoe
Posts: 236
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:28 am

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Roscoe » Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:50 am

I remember Flicker Alley announcing in their calendar that they were working on a BIRTH OF A NATION release -- it doesn't seem to have materialized. Any word?
"If you lose this war, don't blame me."

http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com" target="_blank

R Michael Pyle
Posts: 1748
Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 1:10 pm

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:36 am

Mitch Farish wrote:
silentmovies742 wrote:Strange question, but does anyone actually sit down and watch Birth of a Nation for pleasure? You know, rainy afternoon, pot of tea and a piece of cake. "I know what I fancy watching..."

I ask this because people talk of "double-dipping" on a blu ray edition of the film because one looks slightly better (and I mean slightly) than the other. I'm wondering on a 1915 film how much more enjoyment can be gained from having a minutely clearer view of a member of the Ku Klux Klan?
Yeah, I watch it for pleasure. There are many fine moments in the film along with the uncomfortable ones. I do squirm some during the second part, though. It's a film that does its job to build suspense and create sympathy for the Cameron family, and I love it for that. I've heard it called a "film you love to hate." For people like me it can also be a "film you hate to love." But no way do I accept Griffith's version of history. It is preposterous. If the BFI doesn't substantially improve the image, I'm staying with the Masters of Cinema release.
Ditto.

Watched it again about two months or so ago. Great film; very mistaken loyalties or beliefs (IMO, and most other people's today, I think). Just that. For the cinematic innovations, or extensions, or great-uses-of, alone, well worth seeing. Dirt doesn't disappear under the rug or in the closet, just needs to be known by its name. By any other name is the same, as Billy said.

Online
User avatar
bigshot
Posts: 981
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:59 pm

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by bigshot » Mon Nov 23, 2015 1:18 pm

My problem with Birth of a Nation is directly related to image quality. It is a long film, and long running times and heaps of film damage don't mix well for me. I couldn't care less about subject matter. When I watch films, I watch them as a film maker myself. So I am breaking it all down into cinematics as I'm watching it anyway. (When you make films for a living, you tend to lose the ability to just sit in the audience and "like" movies in a non-analytical way.) Birth of a Nation has a lot for analytical viewers to chew on, maybe not so much for non-analytical ones. I'm looking forward to being able to learn things from it without having to squint past all the noise and chatter.

One other thing, I know from previous viewings that there is as much to learn from the techniques used to shoot the inappropriate parts of the film as there are in the dramatic battle scenes. It would be a huge mistake to skip over those parts, because that is an important part of the way the film handles character. If you can go beyond the story, which is rarely the point in epic films anyway, there's an awful lot to like about Birth of a Nation.

silentmovies742
Posts: 533
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:42 am
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by silentmovies742 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 2:25 pm

Mitch Farish wrote:
silentmovies742 wrote:Strange question, but does anyone actually sit down and watch Birth of a Nation for pleasure? You know, rainy afternoon, pot of tea and a piece of cake. "I know what I fancy watching..."

I ask this because people talk of "double-dipping" on a blu ray edition of the film because one looks slightly better (and I mean slightly) than the other. I'm wondering on a 1915 film how much more enjoyment can be gained from having a minutely clearer view of a member of the Ku Klux Klan?
Yeah, I watch it for pleasure. There are many fine moments in the film along with the uncomfortable ones. I do squirm some during the second part, though. It's a film that does its job to build suspense and create sympathy for the Cameron family, and I love it for that. I've heard it called a "film you love to hate." For people like me it can also be a "film you hate to love." But no way do I accept Griffith's version of history. It is preposterous. If the BFI doesn't substantially improve the image, I'm staying with the Masters of Cinema release.
While I mentioned the Klan rather sarcastically, my question wasn't particularly based on theme but on entertainment - or lack of. I've always found it to be one of those revered films (from a technical point of view) from the silent period that are part of the canon that are "essential" but that have relatively little entertainment value to accompany their innovations or historical importance. If I want to watch a silent film, I'd much rather go for something that has great entertainment value rather than great historical value. If both can be combined, that's wonderful, but it doesn't happen often.

User avatar
Mitch Farish
Posts: 738
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:30 am
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Mitch Farish » Mon Nov 23, 2015 2:42 pm

silentmovies742 wrote:I'd much rather go for something that has great entertainment value rather than great historical value. If both can be combined, that's wonderful, but it doesn't happen often.
By all means. I have trouble watching movies that are dead classics, important for only technical innovation and historical value. Contemporary cinema doesn't do it for me either. That's why I watch the oldies. I think Birth of a Nation has entertainment value, and I believe that is why it's so controversial. If it weren't entertaining it would just be a museum piece and no one would care. I wish the Klan were not heroes to Griffith, but they were, so there you are.

Online
User avatar
bigshot
Posts: 981
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:59 pm

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by bigshot » Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:08 pm

I like to be entertained too... But to fully understand film you have to look to a lot more than that. The medium is the message in film. How a story is being told cinematically is more important than the story itself.

Also, there is a sense of time travel to a completely different era, or a fantasy world in some director's head. That can be atmospheric rather than stories or entertainment. For instance, the Lumiere films are basically static shots of perfectly ordinary things with no attempt to tell a story or even have a beginning, middle and end- almost no entertainment value. They should be dry as dust- but they aren't. They use film as a window into a specific time and place- an experience that doesn't exist any more. Birth of a Nation is amazing because it tries to capture not just a time and place, but a particular group of people's impression of what that time and place was like.

There are subjects in Birth of a Nation that some people can't get past. I understand that. But it's still great film making and a great film. It is a little bit too long, and it is difficult to squint through the storm of image noise, but it isn't boring by any means. Personally, I'm not afraid to see films with opinions or frames of reference I don't share. I'm not easily shocked, but that doesn't mean that I'm liable to be converted to that point of view either. I'm not afraid of films. I just want to see well made films that I can learn from. That can be Triumph of the Will or Human Centipede or Birth of a Nation or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I really don't care. I just want interesting film making.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about... I'm about as big a fan of Sherlock Holmes as anyone. I've read it all several times and I've seen all the various TV incarnations and most of the film adaptations. But I asked people about the new Flicker Alley Sherlock Holmes and couldn't find anyone who would stand up for it as a film. Maybe some people have a historical interest in the actor in the film, or the subject matter of Sherlock Holmes... but to me, if there isn't some cinematic reason to be interested, I don't need to see it as a film. That might be different than other people who are interested in genres... I'm interested more in mediums than genres.

User avatar
Rick Lanham
Posts: 2054
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:16 pm
Location: Gainesville, FL

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:26 pm

Published today, a web site talks about a weird 1926 photo of some klansmen posing on and in front of a Ferris wheel:

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/th ... orado-fair" target="_blank

Rick

wich2
Posts: 1574
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by wich2 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:03 pm

>the story, which is rarely the point in epic films anyway<

Bigshot, with respect I think that the son of Col. Griffith would most emphatically disagree with you there.

>The medium is the message in film. How a story is being told cinematically is more important than the story itself.<

I'm an actor myself, and absolutely disagree with you on that main point. As I think a very large number of the makers of classic films would. I really doubt Renoir thought that the main point of GRAND ILLUSION, or Sturges thought the main point of SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS, was the technique.

-Craig

Online
User avatar
bigshot
Posts: 981
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:59 pm

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by bigshot » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:12 pm

The story in The Robe, Cleopatra or Tora! Tora! Tora! is just the McGuffin to hang the epic cinematics on. It's all about using film to create a huge window into an exciting time to live. Films are different than stage plays or books. How the words are delivered is more important than the words themselves. The pacing of the emotional roller coaster and the pictures you would never be able to see any other way are more important than the plot or dialogue. See if you can try to understand what I look for. Perhaps you might see a whole new level in film if you think about it that way.

wich2
Posts: 1574
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by wich2 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:38 pm

I understand you totally - I just disagree.

For me, a delivery system, no matter how smooth and shiny, can never trump what is being delivered.

And again, I truly believe that the filmmakers I mentioned would maintain the same. Griffith often spoke of the great new universal language that he thought was being developed - but not for its own sake, but for what it could say.

User avatar
Mitch Farish
Posts: 738
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:30 am
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Mitch Farish » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:12 pm

Sorry, but I disagree with both arguments. Technique and story must work together or neither works at all. Postmodern jazzing around with technique may satisfy the ego of the artist, but it won't put asses in the seats. Most audiences appreciate technique that does not call attention to itself but serves the story, which should never just be "the McGuffin." However, technique that keeps audiences returning to learn how it brought the story to life is what makes a film a classic.

Daniel Eagan
Posts: 800
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:14 am
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Daniel Eagan » Tue Nov 24, 2015 5:12 am

>The medium is the message in film. How a story is being told cinematically is more important than the story itself.<

I'm an actor myself, and absolutely disagree with you on that main point. As I think a very large number of the makers of classic films would. I really doubt Renoir thought that the main point of GRAND ILLUSION, or Sturges thought the main point of SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS, was the technique.

-Craig
Sturges cared less about technique and acting than he did about his script. He almost always worked with second-tier performers and character actors (The Lady Eve being the main exception), and his technique—apart from the occasional flashy tracking shot—is functional.

Technique was essential for Renoir, and he used acting as an element of his style. Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game are a lot more than good acting.

wich2
Posts: 1574
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:11 am

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by wich2 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 7:46 am

>Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game are a lot more than good acting.<

They are indeed.

They are also a lot more than good technique.

-Craig

silentmovies742
Posts: 533
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:42 am
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by silentmovies742 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 12:18 pm

bigshot wrote:The story in The Robe, Cleopatra or Tora! Tora! Tora! is just the McGuffin to hang the epic cinematics on. It's all about using film to create a huge window into an exciting time to live. Films are different than stage plays or books. How the words are delivered is more important than the words themselves. The pacing of the emotional roller coaster and the pictures you would never be able to see any other way are more important than the plot or dialogue. See if you can try to understand what I look for. Perhaps you might see a whole new level in film if you think about it that way.
I don't think after a PhD in the subject I need to see a whole new level in film - but it also means that I've come out the other side of that without submitting to the kind of bizarre snobbery of what does or does not make a good film that we encounter all the time from people who happen to like old movies. All this nonsense of "to fully understand film you need to..." is ridiculous. It sound pretentious because it IS pretentious. Film was, and still is, a form of entertainment.

You talk of "how a story is being told is more important than the story itself." I mean, really? Perhaps if you want to cure your insomnia, but not if you want to be entertained. I doubt anyone has sat down and watched a whodunit and thought to themselves that the cinematography was more important than the plot! And I didn't enjoy The Plastic Age any less because the story was told in a perfectly average way by an average director. And while Griffith could be a master of pacing when he put his mind to it, sadly his mind was often so caught up in trying to make something big and important that he forgot about it altogether. Particularly in BOAN. Does it take three hours to tell this story? No, it does not.

Its no small wonder that people are often put off silent cinema as soon as they start to explore it. We often teach it in universities using "worthy," "important," and "arty" films of the canon rather than with the films that most of the population would have gone to see on a regular basis in the 1910s and 1920s. People come here having just accidentally come across a silent film, enjoyed it, and want some recommendations as to what they should view next. The film they saw was The Kid. What do people tell them to watch next? Battleship Potemkin and Passion of Joan of Arc! It's the equivalent of someone coming here saying they just enjoyed South Pacific, and what other films from the 1950s might they enjoy - and someone suggesting The Seventh Seal!

The vast majority of people who watch films for pleasure do not want to "understand" them - they want to enjoy them. That's what most films were made for - enjoyment. And they're certainly not missing out by having that aim.

User avatar
Brent
Posts: 198
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 9:59 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Brent » Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:14 pm

Bloody hell Shane, couldn't have put it better myself - well done! 'Tis only a pity these forums don't allow us to 'like' posts (mine do!).

The dissenters can argue the toss all they like but George Clooney nailed it years ago:

"I'm protected as an actor by a really good screenplay, number one; and then a really good director, number two; and then really good actors, number three - but first and foremost a good screenplay. You cannot make a good film out of a bad script. You can make a bad film out of a good script – easily. I've seen that happen before, but you can't do it the other way around; it always has to be the screenplay."

But then, what would he know about making films?

I'll now attempt to drag this thread back on topic - it is about the BFI Blu-ray, after all. I'm currently awaiting a major article by someone closely involved with this Blu-ray. When it's published I'll post a link here and you'll all see, as I now do, why the BFI is by far the definitive release.

User avatar
Roscoe
Posts: 236
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:28 am

Re: BFI to release BIRTH OF A NATION in September

Unread post by Roscoe » Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:48 pm

So I'm assuming that Flicker Alley will be releasing this in the US, based on this from the calendar they released for 2015:

"Lillian Gish and Henry B. Walthall in The Birth of a Nation (1915), directed by D.W. Griffith, presented by Flicker Alley and the BFI, in association with Photoplay Productions. (Coming soon to Blu-ray)"
"If you lose this war, don't blame me."

http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com" target="_blank

Post Reply