86-88 Eisenstein: The Sound Years

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Roscoe
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Re: 86-88 Eisenstein: The Sound Years

#76 Post by Roscoe » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:35 am

TCM ran what has to be a new restoration of ALEXANDER NEVSKY last night, with the new Criterion logo -- and based on the first few minutes which was all I had time to check this morning it is fucking spectacular. Crystal clear, brighter and sharper. Counting the days until the new Blu-Ray announcement. I can't imagine how great IVAN THE TERRIBLE is going to look if this is any indication.

EDIT -- and it turns out it was running on FilmStruck all along. Along with IVAN.

unclehulot
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Re: 86-88 Eisenstein: The Sound Years

#77 Post by unclehulot » Fri Nov 09, 2018 1:00 am

Ivan I & II certainly look splendid in the versions on Filmstruck, but if these are the restorations going forward to the presumed eventual BluRay issue I hope some effort is given to including ORIGINAL audio tracks. I haven’t tried Alexander Nevsky yet, but the Ivans are replete with overdubs of various kinds, from orchestral score re-recordings (which shift awkwardly back to the original when dialogue is present) to even some lines that have been re-recorded. Thankfully sound effects are not redone with a heavy hand, but this is simply not the original. If it’s all the Russians offer, we may be stuck.

unclehulot
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Re: 86-88 Eisenstein: The Sound Years

#78 Post by unclehulot » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:38 pm

I tested Alexander Nevsky on FilmStruck, and can confirm that in this case (and unlike the older Criterion DVD) the soundtrack IS the correct original track, in all its poor original glory. Before it goes away, I’ll have to compare Filmstruck Ivan I to see if it’s altered as Ivan II obviously is, and compare those to the old DVDs.

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jegharfangetmigenmyg
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Re: 86-88 Eisenstein: The Sound Years

#79 Post by jegharfangetmigenmyg » Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:29 am

zedz wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 12:27 am
ianthemovie wrote:That's exciting news, if it suggests a reissue. Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible both underwent restorations recently, no?

The Dreyer box was made of thinner material (like card stock) but the Eisenstein and the Cocteau boxes had the thick cardboard.
Just checked, and my Dreyer box has the same thick card construction as Eisenstein, so maybe there was more than one version. My copy had enough room for that huge catalogue they put out back then, which presumably wasn’t included with later pressings.
I just checked my shelf, and The Ingmar Bergman Trilogy also came in a thick box. Also, curiously (nevermind the pun), the 2-dvd release of the I Am Curious-films is also in a thick cardboard box.

Vachel in Valdosta
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Re: 86-88 Eisenstein: The Sound Years

#80 Post by Vachel in Valdosta » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:05 pm

Question for Roscoe & unclehulot: So Both NEVSKY & IVAN (I & II) in the EISENSTEIN SOUND boxset had compromised soundtracks? I remember there was a dustup over NEVSKY but don't recall anything amiss with IVAN. It's been quite a while since I've reviewed them and I don't have access to FilmStruck to compare so please let us know what you discover.

As to boxset cardboard strength, my Bergman, Eisenstein, Cocteau and Dreyer were of the ultra thick variety. The thinner cardstock seems to have come into play by the time the Cassavettes and Rohmer were released.

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Roscoe
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Re: 86-88 Eisenstein: The Sound Years

#81 Post by Roscoe » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:09 pm

I can't answer for the soundtracks -- what I heard of NEVSKY from my DVR sounded pretty bad, tinny and faint, but the film has never sounded great to my ears anyway.

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MichaelB
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Re: 86-88 Eisenstein: The Sound Years

#82 Post by MichaelB » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:29 pm

It was notoriously poorly recorded thanks to Prokofiev experimenting with a microphone technique that didn’t really work, and a Stalin-imposed deadline. So it’s never going to sound great.

unclehulot
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86-88 Eisenstein: The Sound Years

#83 Post by unclehulot » Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:48 am

Both Ivan films had legit original soundtracks in the DVD boxed set, only Nevsky was altered (poorly).

Now, for whatever reason, both Ivan films in the new versions (on FilmStruck) are extensively overdubbed with re-recorded music tracks, and even re-recorded dialog. I don’t know when these would have been done, but seeing that Ivan Pt. 2 came out in the 50s with a track that sounded very similar to the original Pt. 1, it sounds like something more modern, which doesn’t match the original style of musical performance. Listen to the DVD of Ivan Pt. 2 and compare the voiceover narration recapping Pt. 1. It’s a different actor! This is because the entire music track is redone for that sequence. I might add, there’s a horrible trumpet clinker in that redone version which reappears EVERY time that music is reprised!

Nevsky, in this 2015 version on Filmstruck and TCM is pretty much the original track. The music track is left as is, but there are some foley effects that have been crudely “updated”, which I find distracting. The fact that it is poorly recorded in the first place (agreed) shouldn’t mean that we are to accept altered tracks and throw out the originals. IF that’s the way they want to go, at least give us 2 audio tracks. I have no problem with an alternate such as the Temirkanov conducted modern recording once issued on a BMG LaserDisc, as long as the original is included.

My guess is that the Russian restoration team has done these sonic alterations and that it’s very likely they will be released to BluRay eventually with no knowledge (and not sharp enough ears or memories) that this has been done. Listen to the awful Ruscico 5.1 tracks on many older films. SOMETIMES we get the original mono, but those redos are awful. Thankfully, the Eisenstein tracks are at least left in mono, but this is a similar type of philosophy of restoration.

Obviously I’m bothered more than some folks (I’m a musician by profession). This is worse than the awful foley dubs in Vertigo for the DVD release, which thankfully were dialed back for the Bluray era release. Disney threw out ALL of Deems Taylor’s original narration because some of it was missing for restored sequences. That’s a poor choice, but....it’s Disney, so it’s almost expected. If this becomes what Janus/Criterion accepts, I’m bothered.

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