Home Page  
 
 

A Farewell to Arms
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Region B
  • Alternative ending (1932, 5 mins): more optimistic ending to the film that was shot for American audiences
  • War Scenes in Italy (1915, 1 min): a Topical Budget newsreel item showing crowds gathering in Rome to hear the announcement of Italy's entry in to the war
  • Austrian Prisoners in a Concentration Camp (1916, 3 mins): scenes of Austrian prisoner's of war in Italy in 1916
  • The Latest Crime of the Sinister Hun (1918, 2 mins): a Topical Budget newsreel item documenting the burial of nurses and wounded soldiers killed in an air raid on British and Canadian hospitals in France.
  • Frank Borzage Talks to Cecil B. DeMille (1937, 3 mins, audio): an interview segment extracted from the Lux Radio Theater production of A Farewell to Arms
  • Fully illustrated booklet featuring full film credits and essays by Geoff Andrew, Adrian Wootton, and Kent Jones

A Farewell to Arms

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Frank Borzage
Starring: Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes
1932 | 85 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £19.99 | Series: BFI
BFI Video

Release Date: September 22, 2014
Review Date: September 21, 2014

Purchase From:
amazon.co.uk

Share:

SYNOPSIS

Based on the best-selling 1929 novel by Ernest Hemingway, Frank Borzage's 1932 Oscar-winning film adaptation of the tragic Great War romance is newly restored by Lobster Films, and available on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.

An impossibly handsome Gary Cooper stars as the somewhat cynical Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American enlisted in the Italian army to drive ambulances during the war. Through his doctor friend, Rinalidi (Adolphe Manjou), he meets Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes), an English nurse whose fiancé was killed at the Somme. What starts as a flirtatious and casual encounter soon develops into something much deeper - but can their passion survive the terrible consequences of the war?

A hugely popular film when it was first released in 1932, A Farewell to Arms was nominated for four Oscars and won for Best Cinematography (Charles Lang) and Best Sound (Franklin Hansen and Harold Lewis).


PICTURE

BFI delivers Frank Borzage’s adaptation of Ernest Hemmingway’s A Farewell to Arms on Blu-ray, presenting the film in a new 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer on a single-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of about 1.37:1.

There are limitations due to the source (if I’m reading the notes correctly the source is a copy of the film that belonged to David O. Selznick, but is not the negative) and the age of the film but all in all I found what we get to be an impressive effort. The image isn’t super sharp, looking a bit hazy around edges, but this appears to be a side effect of the film elements themselves as the transfer cleanly renders film grain and whatever marks remain. The restoration work overall has been quite thorough. There are a few instances where damage gets relatively heavy in a frame but on the whole the print is quite clean, most flaws removed.

Contrast looks adequate with rich black levels and excellent shifts in gray levels. Movement is clean and natural, and there are no unnatural artifacts. Despite any shortcomings it is a very pleasing image in the end.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

AUDIO

The film’s mono track is delivered in 2-channel linear PCM. Dialogue is clear and music is balanced nicely and fairly effective, but the track as a whole is obviously dated and does sound a bit flat. But there are no severe issues with damage or noise and the track does sound perfectly clean.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

BFI only throws on a small smattering of supplements, most of it looking to come from the archives. The only real film-specific feature is an alternate ending that Paramount had filmed for American audiences, fearing the original ending was too bleak. I won’t give anything away, but it certainly does change the effect and meaning of the scene severely, even though the same (more or less) final line is delivered in both versions. BFI scanned the ending from a 35mm film source in high-definition and it does look fairly good, despite the remnants of a few blotches that were beyond repair. Unfortunately the audio is in horrid condition and hard to hear. BFI has put subtitles on their supplements in the past though sadly didn’t do so here.

The remaining supplements are mostly made up of archival footage filmed during World War I. War Scenes in Italy presents about a minute’s worth of footage showing a crowd gathering in Italy in 1915 for an announcement about Italy entering the war. Austrian Prisoners in a Concentration Camp is about 3-minute’s worth of footage from around 1916 showing Austrian prisoners in Italy. The footage consists primarily of the prisoners being marched around, I assume to various locations (at least the notes suggest this), along with footage of a mass. Finally there’s the less than 2-minutes’ of footage showing the Latest Crime of the Sinister Hun, revolving around the air attack of a hospital. The footage clearly shows that a red cross would have been visible to anyone in the air so it looks like the bombers knew what they were hitting. After footage of the rubble there is then footage of the funeral procession to bury the soldiers and nurses killed in the attack.

It’s an interesting collection of footage which has also been scanned in high-definition from 35mm elements. Each one is also silent but presented with a stereo score.

BFI also includes a 3-minute discussion between Frank Borzage and Cecil B. DeMille, conducted during a 1937 radio adaptation of the film for the Lux Radio Theater. The two basically talk about filmmaking in a general way, what they strive for, and also talk a little about this adaptation.

That closes off the disc supplements but the real meat is found, as usual, in the excellent booklet that has been included with this release. Geoff Anderw writes a nice essay about the film and Borzage, which is followed by a lengthy reprint of an article about Frank Borzage and his work written by Kent Jones for a 1997 issue of Film Comment. The booklet then closes with a short but interesting read written by Adrian Wootton about Hollywood’s adaptations of Hemmingway’s work, and then notes on the features found on the disc.

The booklet is solid and the features are overall pretty good, but there’s barely 10-minutes of them.

5/10

CLOSING

The release from BFI only includes just over 15-minutes’ worth of supplemental material, but the restoration and transfer job are both exceptional.




Share: 



Purchase From:
amazon.co.uk




Join our Facebook Group (requires Facebook account)

This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection