Walt Disney, Nick Park

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Animation on the docket this week, with Blu-ray releases  both old school (Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” of 1937) and new (Nick Park’s stop-motion “Wallace and Gromit” shorts, now in a one-disc anthology).  Ruminations here in the New York Times.

134 comments to Walt Disney, Nick Park

  • Jonah

    Connor,

    I think THE SEARCHERS had Technicolor lab work but was shot on Eastmancolor. The source of its unusual crispness and density is Paramount’s VistaVision process, pretty much the Cadillac of 1950s widescreen processes.

    It seemed to me that on the recent deluxe DVD of THE SEARCHERS the colors were oversaturated. This seems to be a common problem as technicians often presume that color films of the 1930s-50s were more saturated than the release prints bear out. Is this fixed on the BluRay?

  • Johan Andreasson

    Poor old Walt, is he now also the Re-Animator? Well, no peace for the wicked, I guess.

  • Joseph McBride

    Here’s an insightful and sobering interview Robert A. Harris did with Ned Price of Warners about the problems in trying to restore THE SEARCHERS: http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articles/robertharris/harris082106.html

  • Connor Kilpatrick

    Jonah,

    I imagine that the blu-ray was “sourced” from whatever was prepared for the recent DVD. So I imagine that the blu-ray suffers from the same problems. Though, honestly, I was pretty taken with the extreme vividness of the colors.

    Oh, one more extraordinary blu-ray: ZULU! Pretty shocking how good it looks on the format.

  • Kent Jones

    Jonah and Connor, I woould urge you to open the link provided by Joseph McBride and read the discussion between Ned Price and Bob Harris. Fascinating reading.

  • Connor Kilpatrick

    Kent, just read it. I’m afraid all the tech-talk was a bit over my head. Does this mean that, essentially, the print was “Turner-ized”? I should mention that until the blu-ray, I’d only seen the 1991 print. So what looks “good” to me might seem–understandably–like an intrusion to others.

    But I responded to it, all the same. I finally “got” the film in a way I never had before.

  • Blake Lucas

    It’s hard to see it when you remember the original Technicolor prints, but even though
    Joseph McBride rightly terms the discussion “sobering” if one reads it carefully, even without understanding the tech-talk (my own understanding is limited but enough to follow it, especially knowing the film’s color), it is evident that Ned Price, at least, has not given up, is looking at new technologies all the time, and this is not a done deal.

    Courtesy of a friend who has a big screen HD TV, I had the opportunity to see the blu-ray of THE SEARCHERS very recently. It was a pretty good experience. No, it is not looking ideally as it should, but I thought it was closer to it than it has been before. So I’m holding out hope.

    A lot of things have been done in more recent years with many films than at one time one would not have thought possible. Like some others here, I used to see terribly faded prints all the time, and even go back to them, but if I’d known these same movies would eventually come back to us in beautiful prints at least close to the color of the original prints, I would have passed up those viewings and waited.

    I didn’t need to see THE SEARCHERS again at this point. I’m at the point now where I like to give a good rest to films I’ve seen a lot, even if they are among my favorites. But I was glad to see that blu-ray. It was my first experience of blu-ray (preceded by smile box “Civil War” sequence he also ran for me) and made a pretty strong impression for the format. With the size of the screen it was almost like a real home theatre and the film looked much better than the often terrible theatrical prints we have seen in recent years.

  • Blake Lucas

    By the way, as I informed Joseph McBride the Academy apparently has an original print of THE SEARCHERS in pristine condition. I haven’t seen this–don’t know if it is VistaVision or what. The person who informed me of this sometimes posts here though haven’t seen his name in awhile. He did see a clip from it, in some Academy show I believe though don’t know the nature of what this was.

    It seems like maybe Warner Bros. should be made aware of this and I wonder why they are not. I also wonder why the Academy did a digital projection rather than showing this print when they did a 50th anniversary screening several years ago.

    I apologize this information is sketchy. This is all I know. But the person who saw the clip is very reliable on this kind of thing.

  • Tony Wiliams

    Blake, The original VistaVision print of THE SEARCHERS went on a road show over 10 years ago and I was lucky to see it at the Marion Cultural Center before the place burned down. It has since been restored but I don’t see the photo of Donald 0′Connor and Mickey Rooney (who performed there live) around anymore. However, the print I saw bore no relation to the garish copy on DVD that is now circulating.

  • To be able to see a beautiful print of The Searchers, and on the big screen… Now that would be something. It was one of the key films when I discovered cinema, and I immediately began obsessing about Ford. But I’ve never seen it on anything other than a crappy VHS or a tolerable DVD. I’m pretty sure it would be a completely different film when seen “for real”. I have many special memories about it though. It’s also the favourite film of the daughter of friend. She’s now 9 and has loved it since she was 5 (when she gave me a remarkably insightful description of it.)

  • Blake Lucas

    “However, the print I saw bore no relation to the garish copy on DVD that is now circulating.”

    Of course not. And perhaps some will say I am being generous to the new edition and probably I am. But remember, it’s the best I’ve seen in awhile–at least in the blu ray edition I saw.
    (I have the regular DVD in John Ford/John Wayne collection but have not put this on).

    Maybe you don’t remember it well, Tony, but the first post-Technicolor prints were just incredibly terrible, almost traumatic to watch. I will say they are trying and probably care about the film, perhaps more than I had thought before I read the Price-Harris exchange. But I never said it is where it should be.

    The important thing about your post for me is that it further confirms the existence of that print. Exactly why is this being kept a secret and why can’t it be used in some way to help restore the film? I especially ask this because there is no reference to it in the Price/Harris duologue. Maybe someone more fluent with the technology can provide at least part of the answer to these questions.

  • Blake Lucas

    I just read Fredrik’s post after writing mine and want to say it’s wonderful to hear that the film could come over so well for someone without them ever having seen it on the big screen in a good original print.

    I just count myself lucky that I did the first time and a number of times thereafter. I always felt if I hadn’t seen it that way maybe I wouldn’t rate it as high as I do. I’ve balanced the memory against the inferior versions I’ve seen. Maybe one thing that helps for people who haven’t seen it that way is that they do know how great any Ford film looks as filmed.

    As referenced earlier STAGECOACH was only seen in terrible prints by later generations for years, but I always felt we could trust it must have looked great. One time some year ago I saw a nitrate; full of splices and I don’t believe it has been shown much, but that confirmed it.

    A film does become “a different film” when seen the way it was made, but there can still be many things about it that do come through. How much? That may be a difficult question to answer.

  • Joseph McBride

    And Robert Harris on restoring THE ALAMO, an auteurist film if ever there was one:

    http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articles/robertharris/harris032009.html

  • Alex Hicks

    Pretty bold calling John Wayne an auteur.
    I agree entirely on Wayne’s fine THE ALAMO.

  • Kent Jones

    Connor, the tech-talk does get pretty thick, but the general gist is that restoring a film – when it’s done by conscientious people, that is – is an extremely complicated business, fraught with perils of all varieties. In this case, the complete disintegration of the yellow separation master, the variations in light within sequences in the original materials, the ambiguity over how a film should look conspire to make it an extremely vexing process. It was not “Turnerized” (what does that mean – brightened?), but I think many decisions were tough ones. Personally, I find the Blu-ray pretty stunning, but rather a distinct experience in its own right. Others think it’s terrible. On the one hand, you can see the patterns in the rock formations. On the other hand, the skies seem a little wan.

  • Joseph McBride

    I say Wayne was an auteur on that film because it
    was such a deeply personal, even obsessive project,
    and he poured his feelings about America into it,
    for better or worse. And I say this even though John
    Ford directed parts of the film. Ford showed up
    and plunked himself in Wayne’s director’s chair,
    and Wayne created a second unit to get Ford out
    of his hair. He wound up using more of Ford’s material
    than either would acknowledge. It was a very demanding
    physical production, even for the Duke.

  • Barry Putterman

    I don’ think that anybody has ever doubted Wayne’s sincerity, only his ability. It is one of the central issues of auteurism that is constantly debated. I believe it was Michael Worrel who posed it here recently as; is having a personal theme enough qualification by itself?

  • Tony Wiliams

    Didn’t the contemporary ads stress that it was one’s patriotic duty to see THE ALAMO? In that sense, the film is Wayne’s personal project. But, if we go beyond this unarguable aspect of personal patriotic authorship a question still arises as Andre Bazin once said, “Auteur, yes, but what of?”

    Time for another stimulating OT discussion which this site is well known for.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘I say Wayne was an auteur on that film because it
    was such a deeply personal, even obsessive project,and he poured his feelings about America into it,for better or worse.’

    THE ALAMO was success in Japan, because it was about defeated warriors against stronger enemy, popular theme in Japan.

    I have seen 3 hour version laser disc. Not completely good movie, but has many fine scenes, probably some directed by John Ford. It is much better than recent version that has CGI cannon ball flight, too much likr video game.

  • Connor Kilpatrick

    Oh, by “Turner-ized” I was referring to the colorization of CASABLANCA and such. Basically, I thought the gist of the interview was that most of the original colors were completely created/re-created from a nearly “washed-out,” almost color-less negative.

    (By the way, if it’s not obvious as this point, I have no idea how Technicolor works.)

    Now I’m wondering if the RIO BRAVO blu-ray required a similarly nightmarish reconstruction…

  • Johan Andreasson

    “Time for another stimulating OT discussion which this site is well known for.”

    But then again maybe the Alamo is never off topic in America. I think this is Albert Brroks: “You will hear, read, see, think, draw, imagine, dream, vomit up the word Alamo until you want to go and hire the Cleveland Wrecking Company and break it down yourself. The Alamo is there, everything in the town is named after it. Every human, every building, every everything.

    Alamo drugstore – no we don’t thank you; Alamo drycleaning – in by 10 out by 5; Alamo movie theater – 8:30, 10:30, 12:30; Alamo Mortuary – no, he’s dead. Every person walking the street: There’s Alamo Bradley and his wife Alamina. Little Alamo, Jr.”

    It’s from Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour, the show about Texas. By the way, listening to these radio shows I was surprised to learn what a big John Ford fan Dylan is. He comes back to Ford in many different episodes of TTRH.

  • Kent Jones

    Connor, Turner colorized a few movies and then stopped, and preserved thousands of titles and started Turner Classic Movies. The colorization episode is a minor one.

    You’d be shocked by how often colors are “created or re-created.”

    Johan, TTRH will be missed. What a remarkable show it was.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Kent, like most people who love old movies I was appalled by Turner’s early colorizations of classics, but what TCM has done since then is perhaps the greatest contribution to the arts by an American capitalist since William Randolph Hearst kept George Herriman’s brilliant comic strip KRAZY KAT going for all those years.

    TTRH will indeed be missed. It was my guide to American music the same way this site is to American movies. It’s a good thing Dave Kehr doesn’t have Bob Dylan’s demanding touring schedule (or maybe he does – what do I know).

  • vivian

    I would have been shocked to have learned that Bob Dylan wasn’t a big John Ford fan.

  • Barry Putterman

    Johan, I guess we really DID remember the Alamo, But William Randolph Hearst would be disappointed to know that we seem to have forgotten the Maine.

    I appreciate Junko’s video game metaphor because, personally, I now find it almost impossible to distinguish TV ads for new action movies from those for new video games. To my mind it is time to retire the MTV references (and grumbling about Spielberg, who seems to be hopelessly “last generation” at this point) and get hep to the new program.

  • Kent Jones

    Johan, I don’t think Dylan’s touring schedule had much to do with the end of the series, because he recorded his segments from the road. In any case, it was a great show. The episodes are all easily downloadable, by the way. Regarding Turner, the colorization episode was over almost as quickly as it began, but the systematic preservation of WB, RKO and pre-51 MGM titles began long before that with TNT.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Kent, now I’m shocked! Weren’t they all sent from the Abernathy Building? But seriously, let’s just be glad we have all these great shows – and for me also a new insight into Dylan’s personality. This generous, funny outgoing vibe isn’t what he has projected from the stage.

  • tgregory

    “By the way, listening to these radio shows I was surprised to learn what a big John Ford fan Dylan is. He comes back to Ford in many different episodes of TTRH.”

    He was also asked in a recent interview about his favorite movies/filmmakers and John Ford was the one name he singled out for praise. I loved hearing that, given that Dylan is one of the previous few artists I worship even more than I do Ford.

  • tgregory

    Edit: err, that should be “precious” few…

  • Connor Kilpatrick

    I admire what Turner’s done for film preservation, and didn’t mean to insult the guy with the ‘colorization’ thing. Turner Classic Movies is the only reason that I’ve been able to see countless out-of-print films–an invaluable resource, even after moving to New York. If our society is to have such a thing as a “supercapitalist” or “media tycoon,” then they should all be more like him. And a personal theory: thanks to his pet-project ‘Captain Planet and the Planeteers,’ I credit him with the giant gap in global-climate-change denialism between my parent’s generation and my own. My fiancee also insists that Jeff Dowd (the real life DUDE/Lebowski and co-executive producer of FERNGULLY) should share some of this credit.

  • Connor Kilpatrick

    Oh, one more heads-up regarding blu-ray: Target is exclusively selling Joe Dante’s GREMLINS on bd. Not online, however, so you’ll have to make the trip.

  • Tony Wiliams

    Junko,

    Another great post. Do you have the various versions of The Loyal 47 Ronin in mind?

    Also, you’ve answered “auteur, but what of? A real film as opposed to a video game!

  • Another big Dylan/Ford fan here. One of my favorite parts of Chronicles Vol. 1 was the (possibly apocraphyl) story of Dylan visiting an ex-girlfriend on the set of In Harm’s Way and playing “Buffalo Skinners” at the Duke’s request. Dylan claims he contemplated asking Wayne why he was better in films directed by Ford or Hawks.

  • Joseph McBride

    Bruce Springsteen is also a Ford fan. Like Woody Guthrie, he wrote a song about Tom Joad inspired by THE GRAPES OF WRATH.