The Far Country

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released from Arrow and the films on them.

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domino harvey
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The Far Country

#1 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:42 am

Image

An archetypal example of its genre, The Far Country is one of five superb westerns the screen legend James Stewart (Vertigo, Man of the West) made with acclaimed Hollywood auteur Anthony Mann (El Cid, The Man from Laramie).

Mann’s film tells of Jeff Webster (Stewart) and his sidekick Ben Tatum (Walter Brennen, My Darling Clementine): two stoic adventures driving cattle to market from Wyoming to Canada who come to logger heads with a corrupt judge (John McIntire, Psycho) and his henchmen. Ruth Romain (Strangers on a Train) plays a sultry saloon keeper who falls for Stewart, teaming up with him to take on the errant lawman.

An epic saga set during the heady times of the Klondike Gold Rush, The Far Country captures the scenic grandeur of northern Canada’s icy glaciers and snow-swept mountains in vivid Technicolor. Mann’s direction expertly steers the film to an unorthodox, yet thrilling ‘all guns-blazing’ finale, whilst the imposing landscape takes on a whole new splendour in High Definition.

TWO-DISC LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
  • Two presentations of The Far Country in both original aspect ratios of 1.85:1 and 2.00:1
  • Brand new 4K restoration from the original film elements by Arrow Films
  • Original 1.0 stereo audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Limited edition booklet with new writing on the film by Philip Kemp and original reviews
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
DISC ONE
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1
  • New audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin
  • American Frontiers: Anthony Mann at Universal, an all-new, feature-length documentary with Mann biographer Alan K. Rode, western author C. Courtney Joyner, script supervisor Michael Preece, and critics Michael Schlesinger and Rob Word
  • Mann of the West, a newly filmed appraisal of Far Country and the westerns of Anthony Mann by the critic Kim Newman
  • Image gallery
  • Original trailer
DISC TWO
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the film in the alternate original aspect ratio of 2.00:1

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Re: The Far Country

#2 Post by Glowingwabbit » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:25 pm

I was already excited for this one, but with those new special features this release looks fantastic. Can't wait!

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domino harvey
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Re: The Far Country

#3 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:33 pm

Funnily enough, I believe Universal’s first DVD release of this was open matte 1.33, so there will now be three circulating aspect ratios— can’t imagine why anyone would want Universal’s much-loathed 2:1 if you can get the 1.85 instead, but whatevs

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Re: The Far Country

#4 Post by tenia » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:54 pm

Furmanek's documentation states it's supposed to be 2.00.

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Re: The Far Country

#5 Post by Apperson » Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:39 pm

The Beaver Country

I can't speak for the conditions of the shoot of the film elements but that doesn't look very good to me.

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Re: The Far Country

#6 Post by Glowingwabbit » Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:52 pm

It looks like a big improvement over the dvd to me. I'm not sure you can get it looking any better.

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Re: The Far Country

#7 Post by nitin » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:39 pm

Yeah it looks pretty good to me, what’s the complaint exactly?

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Re: The Far Country

#8 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:58 pm

It really doesn't look sharp at all to me.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Far Country

#9 Post by domino harvey » Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:08 pm

Plenty of Universal films from this era have the same thick film look

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Re: The Far Country

#10 Post by tenia » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:26 am

That's because Universal's HD masters usually are digitally over-processed. I don't know how many accurately represents the original looks.
Here, I hope the booklet technical details will clear what are these "original film elements" Arrow used, but it's so coarse and smooth, you'd think they used a 4th generation theatrical print.

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Re: The Far Country

#11 Post by nitin » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:25 am

Their website says OCN.

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tenia
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Re: The Far Country

#12 Post by tenia » Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:46 am

nitin wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:25 am
Their website says OCN.
If that's the case, I wonder what happened because I can't recall having ever seen an OCN-sourced restoration being unfiltered and looking that devoid of high-frequencies.

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Re: The Far Country

#13 Post by TMDaines » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:52 am

I sure hope this looks better in motion, because it barely looks HD on the screencaps.

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Re: The Far Country

#14 Post by Finch » Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:22 pm

Hopefully capsaholic will provide some screen grabs of their own since Gary's captures have historically been problematic but I honestly was expecting more as well.

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Re: The Far Country

#15 Post by cdnchris » Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:00 pm

It's from the OCN according to the notes and after watching it I'd have to say that's just how the film looks and domino's right that it does reflect the same look other Technicolor Universal films of the time had. In motion it looks fine, I wouldn't say it has been filtered (not excessively at least) and grain is there, but it's certainly not the sharpest looking image (and scenes can vary between one another) and I honestly think it comes down to source and still better than DVD. But man, there are some really dupey looking shots, usually between transitions.

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Re: The Far Country

#16 Post by senseabove » Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:35 pm

I saw prints of most of the Mann/Stewart westerns a few months ago, and while I don't remember The Far Country being especially striking, print-wise, Bend of the River was one of the most beautiful prints I've ever seen, so it does seem odd to me that another Universal Technicolor shot in similar settings that came out a year before Far Country would look distinctly better than those screen-caps, if the scan is from the OCN... Could it come down to the cinematographer?

The caps from Bend look better on the whole: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film6/blu-ray_ ... lu-ray.htm
Though I haven't seen the disc in person, as I've been hoping it would get a better, dual-layered release from a UK label...

Some of the outdoor shots from Bend have a similar chunky-grain quality to those from Far Country, but even those still very obviously have more detail:
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film6/blu-ray_ ... u-ray_.jpg
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/104/the_far_co ... u-ray_.jpg

Unfortunately there's only one indoor shot in the Far Country caps, so it might be at least partially attributable to Gary's choice of frames, but even that doesn't give me much hope:
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film6/blu-ray_ ... u-ray_.jpg
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/104/the_far_co ... u-ray_.jpg

nitin
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Re: The Far Country

#17 Post by nitin » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:27 am

There are more caps in the be.com review too.

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Re: The Far Country

#18 Post by onedimension » Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:49 am

Did you all see Gary's mention that Arrow sent him a note directly about the transfer?
Arrow has sent us this message: "The Far Country was exclusively restored by Arrow Films and is presented in both original aspect ratios of 2.00:1 and 1.85:1 with mono sound. The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution at NBC Universal's Studio Post facility. The film was graded and restored at Silver Salt Restoration, London.

The original 35mm negative had undergone serious deterioration, resulting in excessive density fluctuation throughout all the reels, affecting colour and detail throughout the film. Unfortunately no other suitable pre-print elements had been kept, so extensive work was undertaken to reduce the damage while retaining the original film grain and image detail. Previous DVD releases of The Far Country had also used this source element but the effect of the film damage was reduced by Universal's standard application of noise/grain reduction, as well as the work being completed in the lower SD resolution.

The original mono mix was remastered from the optical negatives at Deluxe Audio Services, Hollywood.

All original materials supplied for this restoration were made available by NBC Universal."
It adds up. The restoration looks sort of like it's capturing some sort of artistic intent from the period - a thick, painterly landscape look - and sort of like there were problems with the film elements?

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Re: The Far Country

#19 Post by domino harvey » Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:51 am

Is Arrow one of his patreons?

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tenia
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Re: The Far Country

#20 Post by tenia » Sun Nov 10, 2019 5:01 am

This note looks like what is simply written in the technical details of the booklet.

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Re: The Far Country

#21 Post by Apperson » Sun Nov 10, 2019 6:07 am

I have the booklet with me and the second paragraph is not in the technical notes.

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tenia
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Re: The Far Country

#22 Post by tenia » Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:26 pm

Apperson wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 6:07 am
I have the booklet with me and the second paragraph is not in the technical notes.
And indeed it isn't... though I don't think it explains the final result.
I had a quick look at it, and it's, well, somewhere being completely out-of-focus for 95% of the time and just simply awful for a new 4K restoration from an OCN. I'm not sure how this is physically possible in a competently performed restoration, but it never looked like it's new, in 4K, nor from the OCN.
Even if the OCN was badly restored, the material would still, I suppose, contain its argentic fine grain. It's absolutely nowhere to be found here. It's thick and fluctuating as if using a 3rd or 4th generation element, on a Telecine, and after adding EE all over it. It's also interesting to note the utmost majority of the movie, including simple shots without opticals, shows ringing everywhere, reminding me of some of the infamous Universal Hitchcock restorations like The Birds.
Also, the movie doesn't really show excessive fluctuation, it just goes from very blurry to pretty blurry. Sure, a few shots are slightly better while some are borderline SD, but it never feels like a chemical/physical fluctuation.
Finally, even if one would think "well, maybe it's just filtered somehow"... Possibly. But even so, the underlying grain field never feels like a fine OCN grain that's been smoothed out like, say, An American Werewolf in London.

In the end, I don't know what went wrong, but I've never seen a competent restoration, even from a beaten up element, where you can't guess what it's based upon and how it was scanned. And I've seen 4 older movies over the past month that were all in 35mm copies, 3 of them quite damaged, and absolutely none of those looked like this smooth blurry mess.

This looks like the whole movie is a 97 min optical shot.

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