Ghost Stories

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

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MichaelB
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Ghost Stories

#1 Post by MichaelB » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:26 pm

Confirmed in the latest BFI newsletter:
We are delighted to announce that starting with August 2012 we bring to you the most asked for and long awaited GHOST STORIES. Great films with a passionate following of fans with titles such as Whistle and I'll Come To You (1968 & 2010 versions), The Stalls of Barchester and A Warning To The Curious. September 2012 brings Lost Hearts, The Treasure of Abbot Thomas and The Ash Tree; The Signalman, Stigma and The Ice House. October 2012 includes View From A Hill and Number 13. Five volumes here to collect and what a collection to have for keeps!
The other big news is that for the first time in nearly a decade the BFI has finally struck a deal with the BBC that both can live with.

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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Re: Ghost Stories

#2 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:07 pm

MichaelB wrote:Confirmed in the latest BFI newsletter:
The other big news is that for the first time in nearly a decade the BFI has finally struck a deal with the BBC that both can live with.
Beyond.....our Ken?

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knives
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Re: Ghost Stories

#3 Post by knives » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:45 pm

Well I'm glad for this minor miracle. Assuming the BFI's budget hasn't gotten insanely large recently I wonder what caused the BBC to reduce their price to a reasonable amount?

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Ozu Teapot
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Re: Ghost Stories

#4 Post by Ozu Teapot » Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:45 pm

Fantastic news!

I can remember the annual ghost story being a much anticipated part of the BBC's Christmas scheduling, and they repeated a few a couple of years back as part of a mini M.R. James season on BBC 4, and it'll be great to be able to own them finally!

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McCrutchy
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Re: Ghost Stories

#5 Post by McCrutchy » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:50 pm

Hmmm, is a Blu-ray possible? The BBC have gone back and done Civilisation to great acclaim (though the Blu is sadly 1080/50i when they should have gone for 1080p23.976, since that was shot on 35mm) but the UK seriously lacks other classic BBC on Blu-ray. Unfortunately we are starting to best you in this department, even if our releases (like TTSS) are 1080i and in some cases have lossy audio.

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MichaelB
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Re: Ghost Stories

#6 Post by MichaelB » Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:18 am

These films were shot on 16mm, and there's a definite possibility that some (if not most) only exist as SD PAL masters.

So I'm assuming DVD-only releases unless otherwise advised.

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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Re: Ghost Stories

#7 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:18 am

Wonder if the BBC deal could also mean a treasure trove of Arena + Monitor programmes for bonus features? There is such a wealth of stuff there. In fact I was watching the film on Chabrol's childhood only last night.

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MichaelB
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Re: Ghost Stories

#8 Post by MichaelB » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:32 am

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:Wonder if the BBC deal could also mean a treasure trove of Arena + Monitor programmes for bonus features? There is such a wealth of stuff there. In fact I was watching the film on Chabrol's childhood only last night.
With documentaries like that, underlying rights can be a major headache and often an insuperable expense.

Unless they cleared the commercial rights at the time of production (which is wildly unlikely in the case of older programmes), the BBC would only be able to license their original footage, and everything else would have to be cleared with the original rightsholders. And of course they can charge what they like: it's a seller's market with a vengeance.

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Wes Moynihan
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Re: Ghost Stories

#9 Post by Wes Moynihan » Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:44 am

Excellent news, and great timing too - I was considering picking up the five-disc Australian release of The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James, but now I'll wait for the BFI. I hope something can be done with Rudolph Cartier and Nigel Kneale's 1954 BBC television adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four...

Jacob Marley
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Re: Ghost Stories

#10 Post by Jacob Marley » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:44 am

I bought the Australian set a few months ago, although to be fair it was more than covered by the money from selling the BFI Whistle... and Warning... discs. This might just persuade me into double dipping though. Laurence Gordon Clark spoke at the Bradford Fantastic Films weekend in 2007 and said that he'd be interested in recording commentaries for the films he directed, were there ever to be another DVD release. That'd make this pretty much unmissable.

As for the Kneale/Cartier/Cushing 1984, I believe it was lined up for a release about 10 years back from DD Video as was. The Late Night Line Up discussion programme about the 1965 remake starring David Buck was due to be included and clean up job had been done on it by the people who restore the BBC Dr Who dvds.. From what I heard, it was Orwell's estate that put the kybosh on it as the Michael Radford/John Hurt film was due to be released and they felt that the two would be competing for the same market.

Hopefully the situation will have changed by now.

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Matt
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Re: Ghost Stories

#11 Post by Matt » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:48 am

I'm a little confused as to how the three months' worth of releases divide up into five volumes.

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MichaelB
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Re: Ghost Stories

#12 Post by MichaelB » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:54 am

Matt wrote:I'm a little confused as to how the three months' worth of releases divide up into five volumes.
As far as I can make out from the way the newsletter is punctuated, volume 1 is in August, volumes 2 and 3 are in September with a fourth in October. But I don't think they've announced all the titles yet.

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Re: Ghost Stories

#13 Post by Robin Davies » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:28 pm

I spent many years collecting those BBC Christmas ghost stories (and petitioning the BBC for repeats) so this is good news (albeit very late). Lets hope they can muster up some worthy extras like interviews with Lawrence Gordon Clark.
Robert Aickman fans should definitely check out the grievously underrated Ice House.

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Re: Ghost Stories

#14 Post by Jacob Marley » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:07 pm

MichaelB wrote:
Matt wrote:I'm a little confused as to how the three months' worth of releases divide up into five volumes.
As far as I can make out from the way the newsletter is punctuated, volume 1 is in August, volumes 2 and 3 are in September with a fourth in October. But I don't think they've announced all the titles yet.
I read it as meaning that volumes 1 (2 versions of Whistle...) and 2 (Stalls and Warning) are in August, 3 (Lost Hearts, Abbot Thomas and Ashtree) and 4 (Stigma, Ice House and Signalman) in September and then volume 5 contains View from a Hill and Number 13.

Other than those, there's Schalken the Painter which is a possible inclusion, but I'm not sure what else. Other things I can think of have either already been released (The Haunted Airman, Crooked House, The Stone Tape) or are part of a series and would require too many discs (Supernatural). I don't see the remaining episodes of Dead of Night appearing, sadly.

What else is there?

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GaryC
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Re: Ghost Stories

#15 Post by GaryC » Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:43 am

Jacob Marley wrote: I don't see the remaining episodes of Dead of Night appearing, sadly.

What else is there?
"The Exorcism", one of the three surviving Dead of Night stories (out of seven originally), was reshown on TV a few years ago, and I'd seen it shown at the National Film Theatre in the 1990s. There was another one I saw at the NFT called "Scars" (IIRC) which I'm having problems tracing now - it was from the 70s, but nothing obvious is coming up from an IMDB search..

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Re: Ghost Stories

#16 Post by Jacob Marley » Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:35 am

Just dawned on me - there's also the Christopher Lee Ghost Stories for Christmas, three of which are on the Australian set. (Does anyone know why The Ash Tree was missed off?) In terms of extras, there's the brief introductions that BBC 4 showed a few years ago when repeating several of the original GSfC, as well as a couple of documentaries they made - Corner of the Eye, which was specifically about James and the more general Story of the Ghost Story.

The Exorcism would be nice as well and the fact that it's set at Christmas might be a factor in its favour?

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MichaelB
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Re: Ghost Stories

#17 Post by MichaelB » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:09 am

A couple of revelations from the recent blanket announcement of July-September releases.

First of all, the intention is indeed to include all twelve of the BBC's famous Ghost Stories for Christmas;
Secondly, as expected, the Ghost Stories are all on DVD only.
Thirdly, Jacob Marley's guesswork seems to be more accurate than mine - there are indeed two volumes in August, two in September and a fifth in October...

...but if you can wait till October, there's also going to be a box set of all five, presumably with the Christmas market in mind.

Calvin
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Re: Ghost Stories

#18 Post by Calvin » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:19 am

BFI wrote:Our Blu-ray plans for the Ghost Stories will be dependent on the availability of HD masters.

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MichaelB
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Re: Ghost Stories

#19 Post by MichaelB » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:34 am

The crucial word being "availability". Given that the BBC owns these titles, I don't imagine the BFI can justify creating HD masters themselves - at least not without some kind of subsidy.

Still, at least one of them (the 2010 remake of Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You) should be available in HD.

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Re: Ghost Stories

#20 Post by Stefan Andersson » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:40 am

Christopher Lee´s reading of The Ash Tree is missing from the Australian DVD set, according to Mondo Digital. Hopefully it will be included in the BFI set.

Hopefully a reissue of The Stone Tape will follow, plus Schalcken the Painter and maybe some more interesting titles -- sorry, don´t remember exact titles right now -- mentioned in the English Gothic book.

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Re: Ghost Stories

#21 Post by criterion10 » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:58 am

Just out of curiosity, since the BFI was able to strike an agreement with the BBC for Ghost Stories, is there a chance that they may be able to get the rights to some of Ken Russell's BBC films?

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MichaelB
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Re: Ghost Stories

#22 Post by MichaelB » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:52 pm

criterion10 wrote:Just out of curiosity, since the BFI was able to strike an agreement with the BBC for Ghost Stories, is there a chance that they may be able to get the rights to some of Ken Russell's BBC films?
I don't know if this deal is a one-off or if it heralds more BBC collaborations.

The final specs of the Bruce Lacey compilation DVD might provide an early clue, since it's inconceivable that they won't have at least tried to license The Preservation Man, Ken Russell's affectionate Monitor portrait of him (I know the BFI National Archive has a Digibeta as I watched it myself) - but they've only confirmed one title so far.

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Re: Ghost Stories

#23 Post by Jacob Marley » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:17 am

Glad to see that it looks as if the Christopher Lee stories are getting on there. Hoping for maybe some commentaries - Lawrence Gordon Clarke's an interesting speaker and is still very enthusiastic about his work on these, so fingers crossed for that. A commentary by Jonathan Miller for his version of Whistle would be very welcome too - what he had to say about his version of Alice was interesting.

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Re: Ghost Stories

#24 Post by Jacob Marley » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:55 am

Anyway, after hearing this announcement, I've rewatched all the BBC M R James adaptations in the last week or so and I'm watching The Signalman as I type this.

These really are superb, aren't they?

There's five of them - Signalman, Warning, Barchester, Abbot Thomas and Lost Hearts - that I think are as good as anything else of their type that I've ever seen. There are so many images and moments here - the bride on the train in Signalman, the ghost in the tree in Lost Hearts, the pursuing figure in Warning, the final shot in Abbot Thomas - that linger in the mind. And Clark shows such economy in storytelling. The scene between Peter Vaughan and the "boots" at the hotel - we get so much of Vaughan's character and story from a pair of old shoes and a newspaper headline. Or in Barchester, the montage showing Haynes' gathering frustration - the repeated "modest gatherings", the calls of "Young man", the performances of "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace" - all climaxing with Robert Hardy's exasperated glance heavenwards.

There are some great performances too. Denholm Elliot's face when he says "A tunnel collision is the worst to be feared" is like a man looking into his personal hell. Michael Bryant's superiority when dealing with fraudsters is slowly chipped away as his treasure hunt goes on. Peter Vaughan's barely contained misery and desperation throughout Warning, tightly swaddled in his clothes, his pale face like some great baby forced to face a cruel world.

I think the other reason I love these five so much is the sense of place they all have. The culvert, tunnel and signal box where Denholm Elliot - and later Bernard Lloyd - are so enclosed. The cloisters and great house of Barchester where Robert Hardy lives. Most of all the village in Warning. The church, the cottage with the dog that attacks Vaughan, the wood, the beach, the hotel - when I watch it, I almost feel as if I could find my way round the place if I ever ended up there.

Anyway, this has turned into a bit of a ramble, so I'll leave it there for fear of finding myself cited in the "Rediculous" reviews thread...

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antnield
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Re: Ghost Stories

#25 Post by antnield » Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:44 pm


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