707 Il sorpasso

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Drucker
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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#26 Post by Drucker » Mon May 26, 2014 12:24 pm

I'm going to put my whole post around spoilers. I'd say the part where I talk about the ending really needs it, but I don't want anyone to feel like I gave anything away.
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This film totally lived up to the hype for me. Really a masterful film that is funny, touching, and beautiful to look at. It doesn't dwell on anything that makes it amazing for too long. It has plenty of time to breathe, and exercises all of its strengths at different points. The masterful shots in the first two reels, for example, of them tearing through the streets of Italy are not the whole movie, and we get plenty of time to slow down and learn about our protagonists. There's a great tendency of the film to marry the road with what the two are facing. As the film goes on, the problems and questions become more serious. And as the film goes on, it seems to get perpetually harder for Bruno to pass other people on the road. While the first person that gives him trouble is the one they drive past after leaving the cemetery, by the end, he's wholly unable to do it, and it leads to their demise.

I think it's deceptively easy to assume the whole film is about Bruno. The liner notes spend a bit more time on him, but to me Roberto moves the film so well. Roberto does not need to invite him up at the film's start, but Roberto is the one inviting Bruno into his life. Roberto faces the conflict which is quietly revealed, that he knows he's different and he knows he doesn't fit in. In a way, he is using Bruno to get what he wants. Bruno might be driving, but Roberto is the navigator.

It's as if we're asked, what would Roberto's life be like if he ended up like Bruno? And he sees the pros and cons of that throughout the film. Lucky with women, but overall, perhaps unfulfilled like life. (My wife pointed out to me that the color red and peppers are both signs of luck in Italy, something the liner notes don't seem to touch on ((I haven't gotten through the bonus features)).) So the irony of Roberto is that he thinks he can just turn off his brain, stop worrying so much, get a little drunk, and voila, he's Bruno. But it's not that simple. Bruno, after all, is the one with the pepper in his car. He's obviously had enough luck just to stay alive at this point in his life. Roberto might not be so blessed. We know that, because Roberto's father wasn't blessed. His uncle reveals that he showed promise as a young lad, but clearly never lived up to that promise. Roberto, on the other hand, has defied his nature by chasing after something honorable: a law degree. He's not following in his father's footsteps, which is good. But to find out what it could be like if he had, we have a bit of a taste of it by seeing him with Bruno. The successful influence of his uncle's castle gave Roberto something to aspire to as a boy. And it's what he's chasing. Though probably not having fun doing it. As he sees, if he's successful, he'll have a Fiat 1500 and a doting wife who blindly agrees with everything he says (like his cousin has), and this he doesn't want. He also scoffs at the overpriced food in the last restaurant they visit. If he hates these things, why is he chasing after them?

Of course, Bruno does, to a degree, steal the show. His swagger, charisma, and personality, leap off the screen. You could write a whole post just on the ridiculous contradictions he makes, but my absolute favorite had to be when he yells at the bikers he drives by. He tells the biker that he should "get a Vespa." And then the next person they pass is ON a Vespa, and he says, "Eat my dust, slowpokes!" He loves, then hates the country. He loves cars, but he hates machines (cigarette machine). And while he comes off shrill and arrogant, he constantly shows how wise he is. He realizes that his cousin is really the son of one of the workers of the house. And he's not blind to his own problems either. He warns Roberto that he can call that girl he's in love with, or end up a "stray dog" like him. It's not so fun being single at his age.

There are two big motifs in the film for me: 1) the chase and 2) momentum. Both men are all about the chase. If you are not chasing something, you are being passed. When they get passed, life is difficult. It is essential that if you are chased, you don't get caught. With that said, being caught is not fatal (I'll get to what is fatal in a moment). So Bruno passes the father and son in their car as they go through the village, but those two eventually catch up with Bruno. There's a fight. There's violence. But no death. Bruno thinks he'll be able to control his daughter when he finds out she is out with a man at 1:00am, but when she appears, he's taken off guard by her age and beauty. She clearly doesn't need her father anymore, and clearly won't listen to him. When Bruno gets caught by the employer he screwed over, it's another instance of life catching up, but not being fatal.

Coincidentally, Roberto hates being chased. When he's in the restaurant where the fight breaks out, there's a woman giving him eyes. He's clearly uncomfortable with it, and makes no movement on this woman. He obviously is not comfortable not being in control. Whether he's living a boring life and not pursuing girls, at least he does so on his own terms. And that allows him to be comfortable. Of course, the question of the movie is whether or not that comfort is worth it to him, so there you go...what's a man to do?

But back to fatality. What is fatal, after all? Fatal is the girl at the train station who gets picked up by her brother. That is it. That's over. Fatal would be if Bruno's wife re-married. These would not be examples of chases that go in the same direction, these are things in life moving head-on, in the opposite direction as our protagonists.

Momentum is essential for the film, and the need for momentum is their undoing. There is the need to always accelerate, to keep going. And once you are on a ride: whether it's law school or a car ride, the further into it you go, the harder and harder it is to get off. Roberto thinks about leaving on the bus, but Bruno stops him. He tries to take a train, but again, this trip and the momentum prove too hard to escape. And he could drop out of law school, but he's only got a year left. He seems not to be in love with it, but why stop now?

The momentum is stopped by being hit head on. Ultimately, nobody chasing them can stop Bruno or Roberto. Chasing others doesn't lead them astray. They may be slowed down by the events of life that chase them, whether priests who are broken down or motorists they've wronged, but ultimately, they can keep going. Not until life hits them head on, going the other direction, does the momentum stop and ultimately lead to their death. At first it's a girl who is going in another direction. But even on the road, nobody can catch them, just face them head on. And when they face that truck head on, they must totally bail at the last moment. Hitting the brakes and the post on the side of the road.

The road trip is life. Momentum is hard to maintain, and the need to always increase speed ends up being their undoing. They both touch that lucky pepper at the end, but only Bruno has the luck needed to survive.

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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#27 Post by jojo » Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:45 pm

Drucker wrote:I'm going to put my whole post around spoilers. I'd say the part where I talk about the ending really needs it, but I don't want anyone to feel like I gave anything away.
Great post Drucker. Especially about the significance of the pepper. I'd also add that
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in addition to luck, Bruno also manages to survive in the end because he was also able to jump out the car at the last moment. He's someone who lives on instinct and reaction, rather than planning. It's not in Roberto's nature to react until he's got all the angles figured out. And at the end, he didn't have time to do that. As you alluded to, 2 days with Bruno is not going to change his essential nature. That said, Bruno is fated to a lonely path because of his moment by moment nature. During the film he admits to Roberto that he's never had a real friend, or at least one gets the sense he hasn't had one in a long, long, time. And as the film nears the end, you sometimes wonder if Bruno is actually THIS wild all the time. There are small indications that he has a sense of when going far is "too far". He's still clearly immature and irresponsible, but he also relishes playing the fun loving party animal who's done it all and is here to "teach" Roberto how to have a good time. Maybe he's also never had the opportunity to show off this much, and Roberto's naivete gives him the green light to do this.
Last edited by jojo on Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Drucker
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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#28 Post by Drucker » Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:48 pm

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I figured that Bruno was thrown from the car at the end, I didn't read/see it as him actively leaping. I figured it was another stroke of dumb luck for Bruno! Your reading definitely makes sense though.

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Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#29 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Sep 29, 2014 9:06 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, OCTOBER 27th AT 6:30 AM.

Members have a two week period in which to discuss the film before it's moved to its dedicated thread in The Criterion Collection subforum. Please read the Rules and Procedures.

This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

I encourage members to submit questions, either those designed to elicit discussion and point out interesting things to keep an eye on, or just something you want answered. This will be extremely helpful in getting discussion started. Starting is always the hardest part, all the more so if it's unguided. Questions can be submitted to me via PM.


What is the film's relationship with Italy's The Economic Miracle? The film premiered at around the time of Italy's economic peak, it seems. What is the director's feeling on Italin's attitudes?

Their certainly seems to be a great link between La Dolce Vita, this film, and Red Desert, doesn't there? The links between the dangers of Capitalism, consumer culture, and industrial growth.



***PM me if you have any suggestions for additions or just general concerns and questions.***

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#30 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Oct 12, 2014 3:09 pm

A member has submitted a couple of really good discussion questions. You'll find them in the post above. Worth considering before discussion opens tomorrow.

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#31 Post by Lemmy Caution » Mon Oct 13, 2014 8:01 am

If anyone is wondering why Rome is deserted to open the film,
there's a mid-August holiday called Ferragosto.
It's said in the dialogue but not in the subtitles as such (I think they just say "holiday")
I was in Rome and vicinity for Ferragosto a few years back and while it was quieter than usual, no longer does it become a ghost town. But it does kick off the mian Italian vacation season, and a lot of folks do travel then and get out of Rome for a couple weeks. Similarly the next year I was in Croatia in August, and everybody said that Italians would flood in during Ferragosto, though again it seemed a bit overblown. Or maybe I was just there during the recent bad economic times.

I did ask people what exactly Ferragosto was, and nobody had much of an answer, except to say that it was a Summer holiday. It seems to date back over 2000 years to the first emperor Augustus, whom it's named for, but wiki just says that it linked a few pre-existing holidays.

In the film, I like how he is driving along empty streets in his worn sports car, and the only shop he finds open pulls down the metal grate when they see him coming.

I plan to re-watch this even though I just saw it two months ago (around Ferragosto time).

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#32 Post by movielocke » Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:42 pm

This was a fantastic surprise. I was thinking throughout the film how "new" everything felt, the gorgeous, unblemished roads, the new cars and yachts and boats in their thousands, even the new modernist house of Bruno's ex wife. and of course, and the "new" bikinis on the beach. I continually was reminded of a portion of Capital in the 21st Century where Piketty refers to the "thirty glorious years" that came to a crashing end in the seventies. Italy also enjoyed a similar surge, and this film clearly comes in the middle of that seemingly endless post war boom. It's fabulous to see a film celebrating and critiquing the excess brought on by that boom rather than Eyeore-ing with dour irrelevant whinging about that excess or vapidity. It's nice that the film contains pros and cons of the changes brought on by the glorious years rather than just being a pessimistic party pooper or a naive enthusiast. It feels like a much more balanced film than Antonioni's depressions.

Il sorpasso is a tremendously fun road movie. Like Planes Trains and Automobiles it works because of the dramatic tension between Bruno and Roberto, but unlike that film it doesn't rely on the pair squabbling, it just puts two hugely different people together and lets you see that play out naturally and wonderfully. When the film takes a turn for the dramatic to explain Bruno's backstory when we meet his ex-wife and daughter it also magically works. Without undercutting Bruno, the film illustrates that his living in the moment existence has some profoundly serious negatives, and eventually, when his attempt to get sex fails, you see him as more pathetic than Roberto initially appeared (completely alone and studying on a holiday and unable to talk to his pretty neighbor, yeesh).

That Bruno also gets along so well in life despite everything also seems to be because of the Thirty Glorious Years. Anyone could get a job or make a living and someone like Bruno probably did not have to stick to one for very long to earn enough dough to keep going for a few months. I imagine he cycled in and out of jobs, getting one whenever he ran out of cash and quitting it as soon as he had enough to party for a few months. In a way it reminds me of Stolen Kisses, also taking place during the Thirty Glorious Years, and in that film it doesn't matter if Doinel keeps or quits his job because it's effortless to find another job (even when he has no qualifications). Bruno also reminds me of Calvino's Marcovaldo, it's not a perfect comparison, because Marcovaldo is a family man, but the constant "angles" he has and the relentless energy and positive outlook reminds me of that character.

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#33 Post by Drucker » Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:50 pm

I'll add in more later, and want to build off the initial post I made in the thread here.

But movielocke, I think your noting about the newness of what is really a revolution of capital and industry gets to the heart of what I think is profound about this movie. Unlike Germany and USA, Italy never had a post-World War I economic boom. It was a poor country of farmers and fishermen. As my (Sicilian) wife puts it, people in Sicily have been conquered for centuries and centuries by various people coming and going. The way she puts it, "as long as we're able to pray the way we want to, we don't care." Perhaps it's unscientific or reductive, but I think the point of trying to upend Sicilian or Italian tradition of thousands of years was, if not bound to fail, definitely bound to ruffle feathers. Are the Italian people to accept modernization and an industrial economy at the cost of tradition? I believe that's one of the central premises of the movie (and as I mentioned in my question, I believe it's addressed or confronted in La Dolce Vita and Red Desert as well.)

Look at how crassly Bruno treats representatives of that tradition. Look at how he blows off/sort of insults the clergymen and an old restaurant-owning woman. But he's happy to chase young, foreign women in a fancy new sports car.

Yet I don't believe that Risi is totally critiquing the idea of modernization. He clearly shows that there's a lot of upside and fun to the experience. Again, I don't think Risi is critiquing the fun of a fast car and a holiday at the beach. With that said, I think he's thinking that it's moving too fast, and needs to slow down. I think Risi believes that the Italian people were seemingly accepting a new way of life without considering the consequences. I believe Roberto, in part, represents the part of Italian culture that has the potential to slow the Brunos of the world down. When Roberto chooses to let go, stop thinking so hard, and just go with life full speed ahead, it ultimately helps to cost him his life. He, and the Italian people, may not be prepared to face the consequences of accepting this relatively new way of life that is just so different from what Italians had historically experienced.

And considering our present-day Eurozone crisis, and the effects that 20%+ unemployment is having in Italy, maybe Risi really was on to something.

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#34 Post by Drucker » Tue Oct 21, 2014 10:27 am

Surely others have something to add!?

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#35 Post by Lemmy Caution » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:03 am

I've been meaning to re-watch it.

I like when they go to the law student's home and the other guy picks up on all sorts of stuff the son never realized -- that the groundskeeper is gay, the paternity of another family member. It's a little much, but amusing. The law student realizes it's as if he is the visitor and his new companion is the nephew. I also like the way the boisterous guy embellishes the story of the law student and the girl he likes but is too shy to say hi to.

I didn't really care for the voice-overs where we hear the law student's thoughts. Seemed a bit lazy and distracting and could have been handled differently. But now that I think about it, it is a way to get the quiet half of the duo to present himself more. And since he is introspective/shy, it is fitting that we get his internal monologue.
Last edited by Lemmy Caution on Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:53 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#36 Post by movielocke » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:15 pm

the housekeeper is gay, and he has also been with the family forever. To me that suggests that part of the reason his aunt had an affair and a child with the brash groundskeeper is because his uncle is gay and the housekeeper is his long term lover. the film doesn't go that far, but it spells out enough of the other relationships that the final piece (the uncle is gay) seems sort of obvious. Does the film tread into this issue in order to preemptively dispel any notions that Roberto is gay, which some might think given his introversion and reticence with women.

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#37 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:53 am

That makes perfect sense.
And Bruno even hints at it, when he is surprised by there being a "country queen" -- presumably because one wonders where he would find a companion. And then soon after he notes that the uncle is quiet and gentle.
Since Roberto visited there mainly as a child, it's understandable how he would have missed the sexual arrangements, and assumed the surface presentations were accurate. Also, he's not the most worldly or perceptive guy.

It struck me that the legal issue the student was studying involving nullifying and voiding contracts relates to the themes of the film, as personal voids and nullifications hover around the film. The student worries if his old self is useless and needs to be cast off; while Gassman's character already has basically nothing left (his marriage has been voided), and then nullifies his new friend at the end. There's a lot about voids and emptiness at the heart of the film, for both characters, even while Gassman acts buoyant and the student seems to have a purposeful life.

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#38 Post by Drucker » Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:14 am

How did you guys read Roberto's crush on his aunt? In conjunction with his little crush on the girl across the window...is he really gay as movielocke, you suggest? I didn't catch any of what you mention in your last point, but it seems spot on.

I'd make the point that he fits in with the larger picture of Italy at this point in its history. Caught at a moment where income was rising and fortunes were growing, with nobody considering what would happen when that bubble burst and the money stopped flowing. Also, now a generation removed from WWII, and no longer forced to live in its shadow. Bruno was old enough to have lived through the war, and of the generation that helped usher in this new prosperity. But Roberto is stuck in limbo, searching for an identity. Does he fit in with this new Italy?

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#39 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:06 pm

I don't think there is any suggestion that Roberto might be gay. Don't know where that is coming from. We learn that he had a crush on his aunt as a boy, is infatuated with Valeria the neighbor even if his shyness has rendered him mostly a stalker, chats up the girl on the train platform, is moderately interested in pursuing the German girls in the car, checks out a girl in a bikini at the beach, etc. And if he were gay, you'd think he'd have been able to pick up on the homosexuality of the groundskeeper. That seems completely off-base to me.

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#40 Post by movielocke » Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:17 pm

Sorry I wasn't clear before. I'm not suggesting Roberto might be gay, I'm suggesting the film deliberately brings up the gay housekeeper and Uncle to preemptively dispel arguments that Roberto might be gay and closeted.

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#41 Post by Drucker » Thu Oct 23, 2014 4:32 pm

I think I misread it. Still, kudos to picking up on the father being gay. I must've mentally made the leap myself after sitting on your comments for a few days.

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Re: Il sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962)

#42 Post by Lemmy Caution » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:02 am

I thought the underlying message was that appearances can be deceiving. That from the outside Bruno and Roberto both appear competent and purposeful, but underneath both have significant voids in their lives. Also, that various workarounds and accommodations are natural, as nobody has the perfect life they might try to project/imagine.

Otherwise, I really like the pace of the film. It feels like a shorter film than it is.
Some of the humor is quite good. Such as Bruno's retelling of Roberto's story of Valeria and the hookers. Or even when Bruno first hears Roberto's version and finds it inconsequential, and suggests it'd be a real story if it turned out Valeria and her sister were also hookers. I also got a kick out of the scene where Bruno runs some guys off the road and then circles back around to mock them, as if it were a cartoon. And the good script brings those two back in at an inopportune moment for Bruno. Then there's everyone in Italy doing the Twist, and our duo stop by a roadside and laugh at a bunch of farmers and rural folks twisting away outdoors.

The musical horn was almost a bit much/annoying. But it did match Bruno's desire to be noticed. On first viewing I really got caught up in Gassman's Bruno. But on the second go round, it was easier to appreciate Trintignant's Roberto.

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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#43 Post by knives » Fri Mar 11, 2016 4:34 pm

I have to admit I don't get the attraction here. It's a handsomely shot movie that is professional enough, but as a comedy it left no laughs and as a story it spends too much time reveling and loving its protagonists alpha male nonsense to make the final half hour's shaming and revealing come across as seriously believed. While nowhere near as bad it comes across as another Alfie case. It comes as no shock to me that the director of this also did Scent of Woman whose remake has some very similar deficits.

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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#44 Post by Moshrom » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:04 pm

Chris, in your review you said, "Any issues with [the audio track] can solely be blamed on the age of the materials."

It's important to clarify that no amount of age can make a film sound this way: age doesn't remove high-frequency detail; audio engineers do.

Even in your most recent reviews (literally the last two) you frame 'edginess' and persistent hiss as problems. Those issues are part of the original soundtrack and can't be removed without consequences. The obnoxious car horn in this film should actually be much more obnoxious than it sounds here.

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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#45 Post by tenia » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:11 pm

You're back in business ! :D
I'm seeing you're using another additionnal software now, may I ask which is it ?

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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#46 Post by Moshrom » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:21 pm

tenia wrote:I'm seeing you're using another additionnal software now, may I ask which is it ?
The frequency response graph? I do those in iZotope RX, as with everything else (I used Spek for the oldest entries, which should probably be disregarded). There are many ways to make them, but I find this the fastest. Using Audition to export a text file and then graphing it in Excel is another way, but that requires more time.

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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#47 Post by tenia » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:31 pm

Yes, the frequency response graph. I'm not using Spek anymore because I stopped doing these analysis systematically, but I was also looking at easier-to-read graphic responses, and that might be it. Thanks for the precision !

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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#48 Post by cdnchris » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:43 pm

No, I know removing the hiss isn't something that is easy to do, and I've noticed it has been more prominent in titles the last year in many titles, probably because less filtering is being used. I'm sure in retrospect some audio tracks that I felt came off flat probably had to do with the filtering to remove stuff like that. I mention the hiss for Death in Venice more because it's there and becomes far more apparent in a handful of scenes, I guess I could say it gets louder.

I admit when it comes to audio I'm not entirely sure where the issue lies if I feel there is one, and I'm also not very good at finding intricacies; when I would compare DVDs and Blu-rays way back when I was sent both there was seldom a time I could detect a real difference (other than between for more active surround tracks). I'm also sure I attribute some problems to age when the culprit is more than likely someone trying to "repair" the audio.

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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#49 Post by tenia » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:12 pm

For years of watching Gaumont / Eclair restored French movies, I thought the way it sounded was just how sound was recorded in France at that time and that was just the technical state of it. Turns out, as Moshrom measured, it's not. It's just filtered to death to the point there's no high-mid and high frequencies, so of course it sounds quite low as if every one on set was mumbling, since low-mid and low frequencies are all that is left.

I founnd it to improve over time, but tons of movies remain filtered, and I'm now detecting it much more easily by ear. I'm at times surprised to see a movie that sounds this way but still is unfiltered, or the other way around, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

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Re: 707 Il sorpasso

#50 Post by TMDaines » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:23 am

Moshrom wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:04 pm
Chris, in your review you said, "Any issues with [the audio track] can solely be blamed on the age of the materials."

It's important to clarify that no amount of age can make a film sound this way: age doesn't remove high-frequency detail; audio engineers do.

Even in your most recent reviews (literally the last two) you frame 'edginess' and persistent hiss as problems. Those issues are part of the original soundtrack and can't be removed without consequences. The obnoxious car horn in this film should actually be much more obnoxious than it sounds here.
That's amazing, the comparison of how the two sound back to back.

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