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View Full Version : Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera to get Special Edition treatment!


mutleyhyde
07-11-2003, 08:32 AM
Yes! DVDDrive-in reports that Image will be rereleasing Lon Chaney's genre defining classic Phantom of the Opera in a two disc special edition! It'll include the original 1925, 110 minute version with a score by Jon Mirsalis, and the 1929 restored 98 minute version (98 mins.) with two soundtracks by Carl Davis and the original theatrical soundtrack.

http://www.dvddrive-in.com/images/i-m/imageSept033.jpg

It's rare enough that attention is given to the classics, but to give them "the treatment" is even rarer. Will I double dip on this though, having already bought the original single disc release? You bet your ass I will!

Hammerfan
07-12-2003, 10:53 PM
Man, this should be awesome! I have the cut Alpha disc which I thought would be passable, but after reading about this, I will need to replace it! :)

X-human
07-13-2003, 08:52 AM
Makes me glad that I did only get the Alpha disc, that why I didn't really waste my money when I pick this up.

dwatts
07-13-2003, 10:47 AM
Me too. This is an exciting release. Metropolis recently got nice treatment, and now this..... something good in the air!

marioscido
07-18-2003, 05:37 PM
Looks great, but it also means that I will have to replace my Image disc (the present release), which has the 1929 cut only.

Jeffrey Dahmer
07-27-2003, 10:59 PM
Absolutely fantastic, one of the greatest early horror movie. I've only saw this one in a retrospective of Lon Chaney greatest works in a cinematheque. Been a while so it will be with great pleasures I'll watch this again.

Sound like something any serious horror fans should get really.

mutleyhyde
10-05-2003, 11:44 AM
Folks, I just picked this up at Best Buy for 17.99, and that's their regular price, not a sale. I had no idea it was gonna be this cheap, but I'm not complainin'. :D

Haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but I just wanted to let y'all know this dvd is bargain priced. Hell, even Borders has it for only 19.99. Image did us right by this one.

Jimbo
10-06-2003, 12:10 AM
This is an great 2 disk set.The only thing i wish they did was put a booklet with the set.The is only a chapter listings insert.But still for the price this is a must buy.

mutleyhyde
10-06-2003, 12:50 AM
Hey, at least it's not a snapper... Image, you've come a long way, baby! :lol:

life_o_petey
10-07-2003, 03:42 AM
I just saw it on TV for the first time last night and I'll definitely pick up the dvd. I don't know which version they showed...might have been the 98 minute one, as it seemed fairly short. But either way, the movie came around the perfect time for a silent film.

marioscido
10-13-2003, 07:36 PM
So, Mutley, what's the scoop? I'm dying to know what the transfers look like, especially in relation to the previous Image release of the 1929 print? And what is the 1925 release transfer like? I heard it was quite poor?? Let us know!

MaxRenn
10-14-2003, 02:53 AM
life_o_petey, if you saw Phantom on TCM it was the reissue they showed.

What is the difference between the 1925 version and the 1929 reissue?

mutleyhyde
10-14-2003, 03:29 AM
Sorry-o Mario! I just haven't had a chance to check it out yet. :(

I'll try this weekend.

marioscido
10-14-2003, 04:35 AM
What is the difference between the 1925 version and the 1929 reissue?

From ww.silentera.com (a great site!):

Milestone Film & Video is the first home video producer to offer the complete original 1925 version of the film on DVD. And while this 1925 version [110 minutes] has not survived in the best of condition, it is intact and offers the viewer a more coherent storyline than the reedited 1929 rerelease version [98 minutes]. This version of the film features a stereo music score by Lon Chaney enthusiast Jon Mirsalis.

Also included in this edition is the Photoplay Productions edition of the 1929 part-talkie rerelease version of the film, featuring a stereo music score composed and conducted by Carl Davis. This 1929 version has survived in a photographically superior 35mm print, which is the version of the film most-often seen in theater revivals and most-often offered on home video. This version features the original Technicolor footage (preserved by George Eastman House), including the bal masque sequence, that has been previously available on home video.

mutleyhyde
10-19-2003, 08:19 AM
Mario I got a quality report for ya!

I watched the '29 version tonight, and spot checked the old Image release to boot.

I have mixed feelings. While the new transfer is beautiful, with very crisp contrast and is extremely clean as far as print artifacts go, the speed bugs me. It seems to me that the old dvd has a more natural speed, whereas with the new dvd, all the action seems to be slightly in slow motion. People float as if under water. I know that the old silents are a bitch to present regarding speed though, so I can forgive this. The only thing is that with as clean as the print is, and as slow as it is, you see tracer like effects in many spots where the fine lines of movement detail get kind of muddled.

One scene that comes to mind is early on, when we first see the dancing girls on the opera house stage. They're doing their routine, they come to the edge of the stage, and turn to their right. In this turn, there is an army of slender calves and ankles that quickly criss-cross, scissor like, against each other. In the old dvd, this action is clearer, the outlines of the legs more clearly defined even while in motion, whereas in the new dvd, they blend together.

This is indicative of the whole film. Where there is quick, successive movement, the moving objects tend to blur. It's not that bad, but for those of us who scrutinize, it can itch a bit.

Having said that, the new dvd is so much cleaner that I think I would say it wins out. The scene where Erik places the fainted Christine in her confinement bedchamber is a blatant example. While this scene is probably the most marred of the film, it is miles above cleaner than the old dvd. You can actually see the cool as shit bed she lies on (it looks like a ship) and you can actually see detail in her face in the close up. The scene on the old dvd is as if you're looking through a smoke stained cheesecloth.

A few other differences; with the old dvd, between the opening credits and the introduction of the opera house, there is an odd scene, in red sepia, where a figure is stoically haunting the catacombs. DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM I'm not sure, but I think this is the secret police detective that shows up later in the film. He does nothing of interest. He just stands there, with his lamp, moves once, maybe twice, while in the background, we catch a few glimpses of someone's shadow... the scene doesn't do much to set up the story, but I find it odd that they completely left it out on the new dvd. Granted, it's a long scene, which leaves you scratching your head, saying "Okay, what the fuck is going on here?", and the image is also very soft, the contrast virtually nonexistant, but I just wonder what compelled the cut.

Another scene; the Bal Masque. In the famed color scene, the old dvd is again, as with the bedchamber scene, marred by print artifacts and is pretty dark, and the color is not that well defined. With the new dvd, the image is crisper, the colors are more vibrant, and it has considerably less artifacts. The only drawback is that the image is slightly too bright for my tastes, but again, even with that drawback, I think it's better than the old dvd.

Finally, the scene on the opera house rooftop; As with the rest of the film, the scene on the new dvd is cleaner, but what's interesting here is that Erik is filmed in color, while the background, Christine, and Raoul are all in black and white (dark blue sepia, actually). With the old dvd, Erik is in black and white as well. I'm not sure how I feel about this. It seems kind of gimicky, super-imposing color on one object in the frame, but then again, the image is striking, with Erik's crimson cape billowing in the wind, possibly expressing Erik's increasing rage as he eavesdrops on Cristine and Raoul as they plan their escape.

To sum up, the only major concern I have is that the speed is slightly slower on the new dvd, but the print is soooo much easier on the eye that it wins out. If you don't have the old dvd, you can still see an example of what I'm getting at - the trailers on the new dvd click along at the same rate as the old dvd, so you'll at least be able to get an idea of the difference.

When all is calculated, I can only recommend the new release highly. http://horrordvds.com/vb3forum/images/icons/icon14.gif

marioscido
10-20-2003, 02:02 AM
Mario I got a quality report for ya!

He does nothing of interest. He just stands there, with his lamp, moves once, maybe twice, while in the background, we catch a few glimpses of someone's shadow... the scene doesn't do much to set up the story, but I find it odd that they completely left it out on the new dvd. Granted, it's a long scene, which leaves you scratching your head, saying "Okay, what the fuck is going on here?", and the image is also very soft, the contrast virtually nonexistant, but I just wonder what compelled the cut.

This section had voice-over narration when it was origianlly released in 1929. This narration has been lost, so the new dvd has dispensed with the scene.

Great review MH. What speed is the '29 film transfered at? Also, it sounds like the film suffers from a problem that many old films suffer from in the digital refurbishing process. Because these films exhibit many scatches and dirt, the computer sometimes mistakes blurred movement in one frame for dirt, and removes it. So, the movement of the dancing girls will have much less detail. It's a difficult balance.

Looking forward to your review of the 1925 version...

mutleyhyde
10-20-2003, 04:11 AM
Ah ha! Thanks for the info on the voice over Mario. I wonder if it's at least been documented, if the text is online?

I'm no speed expert, but I'll check the dvd to see if it says what speed it's presented at. That makes sense about the digital cleanup process too, and that's precisely what I was chalking it up to as I was watching. You're absolutely right, it's a difficult balance. As for the '25 version, it'll have to wait until next weekend. :(

dwatts
05-16-2005, 09:53 PM
Well, I just got through watching the 1925 version - this Milestone DVD is the only copy of this I have seen. What a wonderful film! I can't tell you how overjoyed I am at being able to see these films in ANY condition, to be honest.

The Phantom story is so good! The sets wonderful. The only thing I didn't like - and yes I complain about this a lot when it comes to the silent DVD releases - is that the score for the 1925 version, though good musically, is still played out with a pretty horrible synthesizer. It grates a bit.

Still, it was a fun viewing, for sure!

RyanPC
05-16-2005, 09:57 PM
Bah, I still need to pick this up... thanks for reminding me. :)

dwatts
05-16-2005, 11:10 PM
Holy toledo. I didn't watch the 1929 version, but I did scan through it. Night and day quality wise to the vrsion I watched. I noticed some issues as per Mutleyhyde above, but really, the quality is astounding for this title.

As for the color - that red cloak was so good I paused the picture to take it all in. Damn fine....

SaviniFan
05-16-2005, 11:24 PM
I picked this up not 3 or 4 weeks ago. A classic in every sense. Believe it or not, it was the first silent I have ever watched. I enjoyed every minute of it. Amazing the lengths that Chaney would go to to make himself look hideous.

RiverEuphrates
07-18-2005, 06:19 AM
The only thing is that with as clean as the print is, and as slow as it is, you see tracer like effects in many spots where the fine lines of movement detail get kind of muddled.

One scene that comes to mind is early on, when we first see the dancing girls on the opera house stage. They're doing their routine, they come to the edge of the stage, and turn to their right. In this turn, there is an army of slender calves and ankles that quickly criss-cross, scissor like, against each other. In the old dvd, this action is clearer, the outlines of the legs more clearly defined even while in motion, whereas in the new dvd, they blend together.

This is indicative of the whole film. Where there is quick, successive movement, the moving objects tend to blur. It's not that bad, but for those of us who scrutinize, it can itch a bit.




I think the video on this DVD was original mastered in the 25 frames per second PAL video format. There was probably some attempt to blend frames to get the 18-20 frame per sec rate of a hand-cranked silent film to appear to move smoothly instead of just doubling some frames to get it to 25 frames per sec - which would make it jumpy. As a cost cutting method - this 25fps PAL version was probably transfered to the 29.97fps NTSC standard. What they probably did is blend some of the frames of the PAL version together to help achieve the NTSC frame rate - which further blurred the image, but kept the motion acceptable - I think it's called "ghosting"

Just a theory. I agree that it looks like some digital dirt removal might've been overdone. Still - it's a beautiful edition. And the commentary! - that information about Mary Philbin and the man she might have married...that's just incredibly heartbreaking. :(

Horrorfan
07-24-2005, 07:52 PM
If your wanting a great introduction to silent horror films I highly recommend picking this up!!!!!

dwatts
07-12-2007, 12:43 AM
Well, tonight I delved into the 1929 reissue version (it's only been two years, after all). You know, this two-DVD package might well be one of my favorite DVD's. The 1929 version has added sound to it, which offers some insight into how Hollywood thought it could add longevity to it's classic titles.

A couple things struck me this time around. First off, we all give a lot of credit to the classic Universal Horrors, and rightly so. However, the essence of them was there to be exploited. With movies such as this, the blueprint had already been written, just without sound.

Secondly, I was interested at how successful the film was despite having static cameras. By using several cameras shooting from different angles, things never felt as though they weren't moving.

Lon Chaney was awesome, as we all know.

What a wonderful film this is. Honestly, it's the bestversion of the tale I reckon. I have recently made amends with the later Universal version, but compared to this is still pales (as does the Hammer version).

Just gorgeous, frightening, and beautiful.

X-human
02-18-2008, 06:18 PM
I watched both versions last night, the 1925 version first. I had seen the silent 1929 version once as a kid near Halloween, I was probably about 10 years old. Although I didn't like it as much as Frankenstein or Dracula (which I was already well versed in) it was very entertaining.

Watching the 1925 version again after probably over 10 years I don't think it's aged quite as well in my mind. Chaney's performance is great with many of his subtle movements. By tilting his mask up to smile and down to growl he was able to make it very clear what his character was thinking. Considering how beat up this 16mm print was that is a remarkable achievement. More often than not though he drops into silent ham mode, which while works for the Phantom character it reflects what the other actors are also doing.

Watching the 1929 version I can see now that it's a bit of a mess comparatively. The re-edit may have sold the movie more to me as a child, but now I find the '25 version better. I can't fault the dubbing for being off, my understanding is that the restoration team married the silent version with the sound. So I don't think much if anything can be gained historically by watching this. Has Video Watchdog approached this restoration yet?

Unfortunately it looks like overall this restoration needs a tune up on the technical end. Hopefully an HD remastering will become economically feasible sometime down the road. Maybe by then a true copy of the sound version will turn up as well.

SlasherFREAK
02-21-2008, 01:06 AM
Nice.
Haven't gotten a copy.
But I'll buy the SE.