Comrades

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by the BFI and the films on them.

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MichaelB
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Comrades

#1 Post by MichaelB » Sat May 23, 2009 4:20 pm

Bill Douglas' Tolpuddle Martyrs epic is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray on July 27th.

I'll post full specs when I get the official release.

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Re: Comrades

#2 Post by MichaelB » Fri May 29, 2009 5:25 pm

Oh, and further to all the speculation about the source materials in the Bill Douglas thread, I'm delighted to confirm that the Blu-ray is sourced from a brand new HD transfer from the original interpos, and the transfer supervisor has pronounced it "really beautiful". He also says the final release will be "loaded with extras" - I'll post more details when I know more myself.

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Re: Comrades

#3 Post by BlackSheep » Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:57 pm

The DVD details are listed on the Bill Douglas Centre website:

COMRADES
The BFI are releasing Bill Douglas's epic feature film Comrades on DVD and Blu-ray on 27th July, remastered in high-definition.

The film is released on two discs with a number of previously unseen or rare extras

- Lanterna Magicka - Bill Douglas & the Secret History of Cinema (2009, 60 minutes), an insightful new documentary on Douglas' life and work
- Visions of: Comrades (2009, 15 mins), cast-members recall making the film
- Bill Douglas interviews (1978, total 33 mins), exclusive presentation of a remarkable interview in which Douglas discusses his method and creating approach to writing and directing
- Home and Away (Michael Alexander, 1974, 31 mins), charming short film co-scripted by Douglas
- News report from the set of Comrades
- Original Comrades trailer
- Fully illustrated booklet including new essay, visual materials, archive Q&A with Bill Douglas, biography, cast and credits
- PCM stereo audio (48k/24bit on Blu-ray / 48k/16bit on DVD) (extras Dolby Digital 640kbps)

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zedz
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Re: Comrades

#4 Post by zedz » Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:14 pm

This looks like it will be an unbeatable release of one of the great lost films of the 80s. A strong contender for release of the year for me.

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Re: Comrades

#5 Post by What A Disgrace » Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:31 pm

zedz wrote:This looks like it will be an unbeatable release of one of the great lost films of the 80s. A strong contender for release of the year for me.
Seconded. Those full specs have made this my most wanted Blu Ray of the year, in any case. After the Trilogy, I have full faith that Comrades will be an insurmountable masterpiece in its own right.

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Re: Comrades

#6 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 09, 2009 5:25 am

I'm very happy to confirm that the Blu-ray will be region-free.

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Re: Comrades

#7 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:58 am

Not much here that hasn't already been announced above, but here's the official press release:
Comrades
A film by Bill Douglas
With Robin Soans, Imelda Staunton, Philip Davis,
Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Stephens, James Fox, Michael Horden, Freddie Jones, Barbara Windsor, Murray Melvin, Michael Clarke and Keith Allen

The epic story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, six Dorset labourers deported to Australia in the 1830s for forming a trade union

Unfolding in the pastoral haze of Dorset and the blinding light of Australia, this is a beautiful film, rich with carefully layered visual illusions and nuances. With moving, profound performances throughout, Comrades – a compelling account of struggle and injustice – is also a tale of history, storytelling and the way we see our world. 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of the London demonstrations which were instrumental in securing the Martyrs’ pardon and return.

This distinctive feature from Bill Douglas, a director of singular vision – better known for his autobiographical Trilogy than for this extraordinary epic – is presented in a new High-Definition restoration and is available for the first time ever on DVD and Blu-ray in a 2-disc set with over 2 hours of special features.

The release coincides with the BFI’s Blu-ray release of the Bill Douglas Trilogy (My Childhood (1972), My Ain Folk (1973), My Way Home (1978)) on the same day.

Special features on Disc 2
Lanterna Magicka – Bill Douglas & the Secret History of Cinema (2009, 60 mins), an insightful new documentary on Douglas’s life and work
Visions of: Comrades (2009, 15 mins), cast-members recall making the film
• Bill Douglas interviews (1978, 33 mins), exclusive presentation of a remarkable interview in which Douglas discusses his method and creating approach to writing and directing
Home and Away (Michael Alexander, 1974, 30 mins), charming short film co-scripted by Douglas
• Original Comrades trailer
• On-set report from the set of Comrades
• Illustrated booklet with essays, production material and credits

Release date: 27 July 2009
RRP: DVD £22.99 / cat. no. BFIVD820 / Blu-ray £27.99 / cat. no. BFIB1012
UK / 1987 / colour / English with optional English hard-of-hearing, French, Spanish and German subtitles; special features have English hard-of-hearing subtitles / DVD: 175 mins / BD: 182 mins / cert 18
DVD: aspect ratio 1.78:1 / BD: original aspect ratio 1.66:1
For the record, the 18 certificate is because of the short Home and Away ("Contains scene of solvent misuse"), though Comrades itself has been upped to a 15 from the original theatrical PG.

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Re: Comrades

#8 Post by Dr Amicus » Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:25 am

Right, well that makes the Blu-Ray a no-brainer for pre-order. I've wanted to see this since it came out...

One odd thing - why is the DVD 1.78:1 and the Blu 1.66:1?

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Re: Comrades

#9 Post by foggy eyes » Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:06 am

Dr Amicus wrote:One odd thing - why is the DVD 1.78:1 and the Blu 1.66:1?
Yes, that is odd. I remember reading somewhere that the first half (or 2/3) should be projected in 1.33, then the Australia section in 1.85 - although I have no idea whether that's true or not. I saw it projected at 1.85 throughout recently, and the pre-Australia stuff was very tight (no headroom, portions of onscreen text cut off), but there didn't seem to be a particularly drastic alteration in framing afterwards. Just speculation on my part, but 1.33 might well be ideal, and 1.66 a safe compromise...

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Re: Comrades

#10 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:20 am

Sorry - turns out that there was a mistake in the press release and both DVD and Blu-ray are in fact 1.78:1. The transfers are exactly the same (and from the same master), with the single obvious exception of picture resolution.

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Re: Comrades

#11 Post by What A Disgrace » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:16 am

Is the second disc of the Blu-Ray set a PAL DVD or a Blu-Ray?

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Re: Comrades

#12 Post by MichaelB » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:17 pm

What A Disgrace wrote:Is the second disc of the Blu-Ray set a PAL DVD or a Blu-Ray?
It's a double Blu-ray package.

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Re: Comrades

#13 Post by foggy eyes » Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:10 pm

Surprised to find a two-page spread on this in the Guardian review today: link.

Pretty good article, but I was disappointed that Rowbotham takes issue with the pre-cinema narration device - it's one of the very best things about the film...

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Re: Comrades

#14 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:41 pm

Beaver - total rave.

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Re: Comrades

#15 Post by Hopscotch » Sun Jul 19, 2009 12:14 pm

Found a trailer on youtube for the documentary Lanterna Magicka.

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Re: Comrades

#16 Post by foggy eyes » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:54 am

Hopscotch wrote:Found a trailer on youtube for the documentary Lanterna Magicka.
It's really great, and much better than the doc on the Trilogy set.

The SD transfer of the film itself is superb, but not as sharp as the Blu (of course):

Image

Image

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Re: Comrades

#17 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:10 am

DVD Times on the Blu-ray - another rave.

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Re: Comrades

#18 Post by cdnchris » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:51 am

Blu-ray review

Wonderful edition. The Lanterna Magicka documentary may be the best special feature I've come across so far this year.

I don't have time to talk about it now, but the film is absolutely wonderful. I'm stunned it's been sort of hidden away all this time.

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Re: Comrades

#19 Post by peerpee » Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:33 am

It's one of the best British films made in the last half of the last century. Anyone interested in non-pretentious poetic cinema, Bresson/Dreyer, and British history should head straight for this masterpiece. For me, it's as much a revelation as Watkins' EDVARD MUNCH was.

I couldn't believe that reviewer who besmirched the lanternist thread running through the story -- that's the complete genius of Douglas's vision. It makes the film.

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Re: Comrades

#20 Post by MichaelB » Tue Sep 15, 2009 12:00 pm

Mondo Digital calls the transfer "a gorgeous presentation and pure demo material all the way".

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Re: Comrades

#21 Post by GringoTex » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:52 pm

I'm overwhelmed by this film. I haven't seen this kind of didactic poetics since Battle of Algiers. I said it after seeing his Trilogy and this film only confirmed it: Douglas was the heir of Jean Vigo- his only heir. Here he made the political film Vigo always dreamed of making.

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Re: Comrades

#22 Post by zedz » Sun Sep 27, 2009 5:00 pm

I was so thrilled to see this masterpiece released that I bought the BluRay, even though I haven't got the player yet (or a house in which to set it up). I was lucky enough to catch it at the NFT a couple of years ago and was astonished that it didn't have a better reputation. At least the trilogy had some kind of profile among cinephiles, but this was just about completely unseen, unless you happened to be quick off the mark (and in London) during its brief original release. It's seriously one of the greatest British films of the last fifty years, and one of the most ambitious. In terms of the quality of the release (based on reliable reports) and the service its recovery does to film history, this is easily a front-runner for release of the year.

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Re: Comrades

#23 Post by zedz » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:01 pm

Watched the Blu of this last night and was blown away by the quality of the transfer. The film itself more than stands up. Douglas's terse, elliptical storytelling style puts the accents in all the 'wrong' places, so this historical epic bears little resemblance to your traditional British heritage picture, and the way he explores organizing themes such as light, cinema, news and storytelling / history-making - many of them circling around the figure of the lanternist - in both narrative and visual terms is just brilliant. Hans Werner Henze's sparse, superb score is equally impressive and equally counter-intuitive. I'm guessing that co-credited David Graham is responsible for the more psychedelic moments in the score (backwards percussion and such), but these also work beautifully in the broader context.

Plus you get all of the formal virtues of the heritage film - period recreation, art direction and formidable acting - in the bargain. The film is consistently visually stunning, even when all Douglas has to work with is muddy boots and a wooden floor, so I was curious to see where DoP Gale Tattersall went from here. IMDB tells a depressing story, with Tattersall ending up shooting bargain basement remakes (Thir13en Ghosts), episodes of House, and lots of religious inspirational videos.

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Re: Comrades

#24 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:57 pm

That's interesting - I'd never looked into her work before but note that it wan't only episodes of House but the entire series of From The Earth To The Moon and the pilot episode of the very first CSI series that was directed by Danny Cannon - a very 'style over substance' British director who had made The Young Americans starring Harvey Keitel (though the film is best known for featuring Bjork's Play Dead song on the soundtrack) before Judge Dredd (and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer) seemed to drive him from features into US television series.

She also did two Brett Leonard films (a director best known for the virtual reality film Lawnmower Man a few years earlier) - Virtuosity (another attempt at a VR film featuring a pre-super-stardom Russell Crowe in an uncharacteristically flamboyant bad guy performance) and the over the top Hideaway which in its focus on a satanist serial killer and battling good and evil deities at the climax maybe interestingly foreshadows those later inspirational religious videos she worked on (It looks like it was eight twenty minute religious films but imdb have listed them separately rather than all together as a series)!

All of Brett Leonard's films suffer from some terrible CG that really lets them down (not to mention some awkwardly dated attempts at futuristic worlds and generally lacklustre storytelling) but I would argue that these two films always look interesting when the CG isn't around...plus during the effects sequences it is always fun to see big stars like Denzel Washington and Jeff Goldblum looking rather lost and bewildered amongst the eye searing riots of gaudy colours!

Talking about decent casts somehow being talked into bizarre sci-fi horror projects brings us to the Dark Castle Productions! I wonder if Tattersall was chosen because of her work on the Brett Leonard films? I note that she was director of photography on both the ridiculously titled Thir13en Ghosts and Ghost Ship. While Ghost Ship is not particularly successful mostly because of the photography (a film that suffers from everything being much too dark and uniformly coloured to clearly make out which does suggest a certain kind of cheap horror film), Thir13en Ghosts was actually one of the best looking of all the William Castle remakes and I wouldn't exactly class this one as bargain basement looking due to a combination of the interesting production design (I'm still impressed by the logistics of filming in a house with two storeys made out of glass walls) and the interesting way it was photographed. It doesn't stop it from being a lacklustre film in story terms (though I felt the opening titles sequence was very good, swiftly compressing what could have been four or five minutes of depressingly over familiar achetypal family tragedy scenes into one neat circular pan around an ever changing room), but at least it looks good enough to provide some undemanding eye candy!

I also noted that Tattersall photographed the Charles Sturridge directed sequence of Aria the year after Comrades (EDIT: here it is, albeit in poor quality) And to end on a BFI note, I see that her first cinematography credit was for Bill Douglas's My Ain Folk.

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Re: Comrades

#25 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:35 pm

I wondered who the hell you were talking about until I realised you were confusing Gale Tattersall with an imaginary woman named Gail Tattersall...

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