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Old 01-14-2014, 12:57 AM   #26
pro-bassoonist pro-bassoonist is offline
Blu-ray reviewer
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Jul 2007

A quick comment

First of all, this release isn't the disaster The Earrings of Madame de... is. As I mentioned in the review, there are obvious traces of poor digital work, so there is some smearing, but the presentation is 'decent'. You can watch the film and there are indeed very serious improvements in terms of definition/contrast balance, etc. In other words, the actual 2K resto is really, really good. Without the 'corrections', the release would have been flat-out stunning.

Ophuls' film is unwatchable. Every time the camera moves -- and especially during the darker footage -- and you know that camera movement is key in Ophuls' films, you get a ton of heavy smearing. This is in addition to the wiped out detail that you see in stills. You can get a headache. This very strong vertigo-like effect is never present on the Pathe release. So, when you evaluate the bad and the good, I think that this release definitely falls in the 'decent' camp. This is undoubtedly true if you consider what Maria Felix films have been available on decent English-friendly releases...none that I am aware of. (She only has a cameo in French Cancan so that beautiful resto does not qualify).

Now, I don't like speculating, but I have a theory that I believe explains why these gaffes occur. I could very well be wrong -- and if you have information that proves that I am wrong, please share it -- but if I had to bet, with the information I have, I would bet on myself for being correct. Here it is:

I don't believe that Pathe are responsible for some of the letdowns that have arrived on Blu-ray -- or at least not to the extent you might think they are. I don't know exactly how they operate nowadays, but I think that the masters for new restorations they have released come to them 'finished'.

These masters/restos have been coming from two places: L'Immagine Ritrovata Bologna and Eclair Laboratories, Epinay-sur-Seine. Again, I might be missing some information here, but these are the two locations that are typically credited for recent restorations.

Generally speaking, recent content coming from L'Immagine Ritrovata Bologna has been fine. Some minor issues might have popped up here and there, but the work done there lately has been fine.

This has not been the case with Eclair Laboratories, Epinay-sur-Seine. The resto for The Earrings of Madame de... came from the labs. The resto for La Fièvre monte a El Pao is also credited to the Eclair Group. I believe that Gaumont also had to contact the people there after the complaints last year.

The resto for La Fièvre monte a El Pao was done in 2013. But... I don't know when - before or after Gaumont contacted the labs. If it was before, then we need to wait and see what happens later in 2014, and if restos completed at the labs in 2014 are still problematic. If they are, this means that there are still people there who are not on the same page.

All things considered, all facts point to Eclair Laboratories, Epinay-sur-Seine as being the place where restos are destroyed. There is, or hopefully was, someone or a group of people there that like to 'improve' things with the wrong mindset.

If in 2014 we see new restos done at the labs that are still problematic, this person needs to be removed. Some of the restos are credited (there are names attached to them) so it should be very easy to identify who is in fact in charge there.

Now we need to wait and see what happens later in 2014 with restos coming out of the labs. The new restos Pathe releases that were not done there I expect to be just fine.

I hope this helps


Last edited by pro-bassoonist; 01-14-2014 at 01:07 AM.
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