Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332

"Hyman Roth has been dying from the same heart attack for the last twenty years."

Last night when I got home from a fruitful meeting with Dan, what should be waiting in my mailbox for me but my pre-ordered Blu-ray edition of The Godfather Collection! Yes, both films lovingly restored (with The Godfather Part II on a single platter for the first time) and a third disc of extras. The set also contains another disc for some reason, but I'm not sure why.

So... what do The Godfather and The Godfather Part II look like on Blu-ray? Well, the first word that springs to mind is "correct." They look exactly like what the original prints, generations better than any previous home video incarnation. Most importantly, the blacks are deep and dark; a good example is the scene in which Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) appraises Tom (Robert Duvall) of the supposed death of Vito (Marlon Brando). As seen on film, Lettieri's face emerges from the darkness, emphasizing his monstrous nature. The DVD release, while sharper than the laserdisc, was also brighter, which caused a great amount of softness; on Blu-ray, the lighting is accurate.


These discs do not have an eye-popping image by any stretch of the imagination, but that is a very good thing, as if they had used DNR (Digital Noise Reduction), the image would have been bland and lifeless, as it is on the Patton Blu-ray. But no... Gordon Willis earns his nickname "the Prince of Darkness" here, with solid blacks and excellent shadow detail. There is grain here, but it is all grain that was part of the originally photographed image. Certain scenes seem a bit overbright, but that is an aspect of the cinematography and not the transfer.

The additional resolution has many advantages, however, not least of which is that certain subtleties of performance that could easily "slip through the cracks" in the standard def edition. When I first saw The Godfather on the big screen, I was impressed by Duvall's performance in the above scene with Lettieri - in addition to the danger that he is currently in, you see the character deal with the death of a man he considered his father. This is accomplished with very fine nuances, almost imperceptible on video. Similarly, the reaction to Al Neri (Richard Bright) at the look that Michael (Al Pacino) gives him at Mama Corleone's funeral as he embraces Fredo (John Cazale) is a much more layered one.

As for the sound, there are two English options: the original unrefurbished monaural track, which I am very happy to have, as I felt the mono track was a major omission on the 2001 DVDs, and a newly mixed Dolby TrueHD track. Unfortunately, the latter is at the expense of authenticity, as the foley seems to be mostly new... but I have to admit that the Dolby TrueHD track is a vast improvement over the limp 5.1 mix made for the laserdiscs back in '97 that was carried over to the DVDs. I'm going to go through a couple of scenes with it; the effects don't always match the scratchier dialogue track, but as a whole the Dolby TrueHD track is a pretty good presentation. Nino Rota's scores sound better than they do on the albums, particularly in the case of the first film, the soundtrack album for which always sounded pretty terrible.

I've done this icon meme before, but it's always fun.

1. Reply to this post, and I will pick five of your icons.
2. Make a post (including the meme info) and talk about the icons I chose.
3. Other people can then comment to you and make their own posts.
4. This will create a never-ending cycle of icon squee.

revolos55 asked about:


Rube
There are two reasons why I have this icon. The first is that I found the character to be an extremely interesting mixture of taskmaster and father figure. His wry wit was one of the best aspects of Dead Like Me. The second reason is because with the exception of the ascot, his wardrobe in the picture is identical to mine in the winter.




Gaff
Gaff's quiet commentary on Deckard drips with disdain, whether it is because he feels Deckard is a relic or because he knows that Deckard is a Replicant depends on how you read the Blade Runner.




Genesis
Life from lifelessness... new possibilities, but not without a great price. It is also a powerful juggernaut that can't be stopped once it has started.




Chorus
This one is a little more complicated. Yes, there is the great love I have for the language of the Bard, but in particular the opening chorus of Henry V interests me:
O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.
Shakespeare is apologizing to his audience that he can not with his resources show you the epic images that he is evoking with the play. Ironic, then, that this speech would be included (with some abridgment) in both Olivier and Branagh's film versions... cinema is not confined by the stage, if one wants to see England at war with France, one can indeed show it. And that is the spectacle of cinema, that "Muse of Fire."




Key
This is a shot from Meshes of the Afternoon, an extremely primal and influential experimental film by Maya Deren. The key itself is a cypher that has a deadly secret. It's really impossible to explain in linear terms what is going on with it, and it makes little sense out of context with the film. I use it to imply that there is more than just what is on the surface.
Tags: audio, cinema, film music, francis ford coppola, godfather, high def, memes
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