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Cemetery Without Crosses
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Widescreen
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • Italian PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Remembering Sergio: an all-new interview with star and director Robert Hossein, filmed exclusively for this release
  • French television news report on the film's making, containing interviews with Hossein, and actors Michèle Mercier and Serge Marquand
  • Archive interview with Hossein
  • Trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by James Flames

Cemetery Without Crosses

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Robert Hossein
1969 | 90 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: July 21, 2015
Review Date: August 9, 2015

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SYNOPSIS

Inspired by the international success of the Dollars trilogy, and dedicated to director Sergio Leone, Cemetery Without Crosses offers a Gallic spin on the Spaghetti Western formula thanks to its star and creator, Robert Hossein (best-known to English-speaking audiences for his role in Jules Dassin's Rififi). After her husband is lynched by bandits, Michele Mercier (Mario Bava's Black Sabbath) seeks revenge and turns to an old friend, played by Hossein, for help. A solitary figure who lives in a ghost town and dons a single black glove before each gunfight, Hossein is initially reluctant but soon infiltrates the widow's enemies to force a showdown. Cemetery Without Crosses is a darker breed of Western, bleak and melancholy in tone amid the explosive set pieces. It also boasts an outstanding score by composer Andre Hossein (father of Robert) and the catchiest of themes, sung by cult figure Scott Walker.


PICTURE

Arrow Video presents their US edition of Robert Hossein’s Cemetery without Crosses on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of about 1.66:1 on a dual-layer disc. This new 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes from a new 2K scan of a 35mm internegative. Apparently the original negative was too far gone to be of any use.

Though still problematic Arrow has done an incredible job with what they had to work with. To start off I’m just going to state right off that the print is in rough shape. The opening isn’t promising at all, a black and white chase sequence littered with dirt, debris, scratches, and stains. After this opening the image begins to stabilize a bit, the damage becoming less frequent, limited to a few bits of dirt and some prominent scratches. And then as the film goes on damage becomes barely noticeable. It’s around what I assume are reel changes that the damage pops up again, becoming quite heavy. Before and after these reel changes we usually get what looks like possibly mold or chemical stains, which get very heavy and rain through the image. I’m not sure if it’s a matter that these moments could not be fixed or if it was maybe decided that the possible low interest in the title didn’t warrant a more time intensive (and therefore far more costly) restoration to repair these moments.

Whatever the case may be most of the film is in good condition and it looks like a lot of restoration work still went into it. In all I’d still say this aspect of the presentation is impressive. But Arrow’s presentation definitely doesn’t fault in their digital transfer: the digital transfer itself is about as clean as one could hope. Though not the original negative Arrow brings out an excellent amount of detail in sequences, and the transfer renders the film’s grain structure, which can get a bit heavy here and there, naturally. Close-ups deliver every crows-foot and wrinkle around the eyes, and strands of hair are clearly defined. Even long shots of the ghost town our protagonists hang out in deliver impressive details and textures in the setting. The film has a dirty look and a dull colour palette, but colour saturation is still excellent and black levels are strong. Would the negative have been better? More than likely but I was still impressed with what we are handed here.

So yes, the source is a bit problematic, but all things considered I still think Arrow has done an impressive job with what they had to work with and the transfer itself it’s quite stunning.

7/10

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.

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AUDIO

Arrow provides two audio tracks, each delivered in linear PCM 1.0 mono: an Italian track and an English track. I’m not sure which one would be considered the “original” or “right” but I think most will want to stick with the English track if only because it’s the slightly “better” track. Both tracks are hollow and edgy, and since both are dubbed post-production (over actors that were all speaking different languages during the shoot) they never really sync or feel organic to the film. But the English one doesn’t sound as tinny as the Italian and that basically makes it the winner.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

It has a slim selection of supplements though I will say I am very impressed with what Arrow was able to pull together here, as I can only imagine some of it was hard to track down. First they actually recorded a new interview with director Robert Hossein in a segment called Remembering Sergio. It’s surprisingly brief at only 5-minutes, but he talks a little about the development of the film before revealing that Sergio Leone actually directed the scene I saw more as a type of parody of Leone’s typical build-up: the dinner scene that climaxes with a jack in the box jumping out.

Location Report is an 8-minute behind-the-scenes look at the film that aired on the French television program Cinéma in February of 1968. We get to see Hossein directing and get a few interviews with the international cast. This is then followed by a 2-and-a-half minute interview with Robert Hossein with the director, who was in post-production on the film at the time, talking about the western genre and how he made the film more because it was a dream of his, not because the genre was proving a financial success at the time. The disc then closes with the Italian theatrical trailer, running around 4-minutes.

The included booklet adds some great value to the release. It features an excellent essay by Ginette Vincendeau, who offers a nice “reappraisal” of the film. This is then followed by an essay by Rob Young going over the film’s score and its composer, Scott Walker.

I guess it’s disappointing we only get barely 20-minutes worth of stuff but I’m not overly sure what else could have been added to be honest, and it’s still impressive they were able to round up anything.

3/10

CLOSING

I think it’s a solid edition for a little known film. Yes the source is problematic and the supplements are slim, but I was still impressed with the digital transfer itself and it receives the love you would expect Arrow to give it.




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