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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,


I know it's a old disc. I watched the whole movie last night. The DVD picture is simply WONDERFUL! For a such old movie, there's some blemishes issue in some scenes. Besides that, everything is PERFECT! Rich color, super-fine resolution, great contrast and black level/shadow detail. And almost NO EE whatsoever.


Now that's a reference transfer. Even a few reference quality 5.1 sound scenes! Well done.


And most important, it's a GREAT movie! :)


regards,


Li On
 

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Li On,


What region DVD do you have...R1 or R2?


Didn't you read my "review" of Ben-Hur when it first came out on DVD? :D I agree is a great transfer yet believe it could have been even better had WB...oh well...that's another story...


Ben-Hur happens to be my all time favorite, followed by Lawrence Of Arabia, El Cid, The Ten Commandments, The Robe (btw, I got a review of this film on DVD coming up soon!), et al.


Cheers! :)


-THTS
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Frank,


I did a title search on this forum using "Ben-Hur" but came up nothing! So I needed to create a new thread.


What's the picture quality problem you mentioned? Besdies some minor blemishes (picture flesh between blue tint to yellow tint due to source problem) issue, the image is overall quite PERFECT IMO. My copy is a R1.


On the other hand, Lawrence Of Arabia DVD picture is mostly ugly due to many problems.


regards,


Li On
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Li On
Hi,


I know it's a old disc. I watched the whole movie last night. The DVD picture is simply WONDERFUL! For a such old movie, there's some blemishes issue in some scenes. Besides that, everything is PERFECT! Rich color, super-fine resolution, great contrast and black level/shadow detail. And almost NO EE whatsoever.


Now that's a reference transfer. Even a few reference quality 5.1 sound scenes! Well done.


And most important, it's a GREAT movie! :)


regards,


Li On
Some people complained about the reds being too

orangey.

I agree it looks very good most of the time.

In one scene I noticed flickering from noise

reduction that should not be there. There might

be more.

Michel Hafner:D
 

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Li On,


Try this:


BEN-HUR: Is The DVD Worth A Hoot? Find Out!!!


The waiting was killing me (one of these days, Amazon.com!)...so decided to run to Best Buy and purchased the DVD that has generated far more controversy than any other video transfer thus far: BEN-HUR. Is it any good...or does it fail to provide the viewer with better images than previous video transfers? Psst...follow me, please!


Some of you know about the many misgivings I've had about this new video transfer, particularly when it comes to its aspect ratio. Well, I am happy to report that some of them have been greatly allayed because I find, to my pleasant surprise, that the DVD looks much better than any video transfers previously available. Forget about the widescreen laserdisc horrible transfers; forget P&S VHS tapes; forget watching emasculated versions on TV...because for the here and now, the new DVD provides the absolute best looking images of Ben-Hur ever. It is a keeper! But does the DVD provide perfect images and sound? No, not by any stretch, but I am getting ahead of my self...


It is a good thing and a strike of good fortune to have had the recent opportunity of viewing an original 1959 "roadshow" 35mm, IB Technicolor, 4-track Mag print of Ben-Hur. This has helped me immensely underpin observations I derived from inspecting images off the DVD (that's why using film as an absolute frame of reference is so necessary).


First of all, colimetry suffers somewhat; the brilliant, densely rich colors -particularly reds, yellows, and royal blues- produced by the dye-transfer processed prints just isn't there; the color gamut appears muted and lacking vitality (colimetry gets better as the film progresses, though). However, it is worth noting that original 70mm presentations also exhibited a colimetry similar to this DVD because no 70mm prints were ever struck with the imbibition dye-transfer process; they all were printed by Kodak with the infamous two-pack organic dye process. Don't get me wrong; Eastman prints, like Kodak's LPP filmstock, produced sharp images with beautiful coloration...when fresh and new! (I bet the original 65mm camera negative has suffered fading to a point where it could be unusable).

I also noted some color shifting here and there, but most notably during the Arabian horse gift scene; some greenish cast permeated the image a few frames worth. Also, some reds aren't as deep as those in the IB Tech prints, but at least with my professionally calibrated display device reds of various hues were easily discernable...as also were golds, yellows, purples, greens, and blues, though somewhat muted as noted above. So coloration isn't perfect, but will do...for now.


The ultra-wide image held up quite well expanded to the full width afforded by my scope screen: 12 feet. It showed surprisingly good resolution with acceptable sharpness...so long as photography is close up or shot midrange (and boy, there are some exquisite looking close up shots!); longer range shots do suffer a loss of detail, but it is to be expected since we're dealing with an inherently low-rez video system...plus we also have that pesky ultra-wide aspect ratio (about 2:7:1 on my system; good enough for government work) to contend with, something that effectively diminishes vertical resolution (I told you so!).

I feared WB would use the 80s widescreen transferring element ordered by the Turner people. Nope; WB seem to have ordered a new anomorphic master struck, one that appears to have been Eastman-originated. Was the aspect ratio of 2:76:1 archived by cropping the image on all four sides thus screwing up composition? I think that might be the case to some extent as I believe I see lesser vertical imagery, but will be checking still pics off the DVD against 35mm "letterboxed" frames just to make sure and see if any cropping was actually done. In any case, the resultant framing seems pleasing enough (but boy, will the "I hate black bars" crowd have a cow when they see this movie!).

A loss of resolution, which would have been really dismal had the anomorphic enhancement not been applied, makes itself known with most objects in the foreground (that aren't out of focus because of photographic necessity). For example, during the private film exhibition of Ben-Hur I noticed that a lizard darted away from near Heston's right foot in a scene where Judah is seeking for his mother and sister by the entrance of a cave in the Valley Of The Lepers; it is on the lower right-hand side of the frame, near the cave's entrance (is on the scene where brightness decreases visibly; it was caused by a cloud that went by while filming!). On film there is no doubt about the lizard's very nature; on the DVD, one can still see the darting movement, but mostly as a darkish undetailed blob. This is something akin to the by now infamous exhibisionistic scene by Sharon Stone in a certain 90s movie; on film can be clearly seen and defines it; on video, it merely hints at being, well, flesh...


The decent resolution that the DVD exhibits wasn't caused by an overly handed use of edge enhancement. Oh, it was used alright -and the all too familiar ghosting to the right of images makes itself known by its presence- but was done sparingly and with some forethought (it can be seen on brightly lit scenes). Still, I would prefer none is ever applied.


I think the image is not as bright as it should. Yet contrast dynamic range is excellent. Shadow detail is easily seen, although in really dark scenes blacks seem a bit plugged up, yet reproduction of blacks is quite good in spite of it.


Blissfully, digital artifacts are few; some image instability and "mosquito noise" (signs of bit-rate starvation?) can be seen, but twittering, serrated edges, and the like are absent I am happy to say...as are those horrible horizontal lines waving on objects such as stair steps which occurred on the laserdiscs because of extreme aliasing. Transferring element's artifacts are visible, but are few and don't detract much from the viewing experience.


While perusing several Forums on the Internet, I came to learn from people within the film industry that are on the know that the sound mix for the DVD isn't the excellent sounding track found on the laserdisc versions, let alone newly derived from original 6-track elements. Indeed on the new DVD the track sounds a bit thin as if some fleshy bulk was taken out. By contrast, the laserdisc's PCM digital track sounds fuller, more even, very wide in its soundfield's scope (no pun!), with excellent dynamics. Still, the 5.1 mix is listenable enough, particularly since it was "sweetened" up; bass does contain some fleeting moments when it reaches subterranean depths (the mighty SVS 46/16 subbass octet finally found something to do rather than just sitting by idly!), and the surrounds provides a surprising enveloping spatial canopy that works quite effectively, particularly during the chariot race and subsequent cheering crowd scenes. Oh, yes...Stereo directional tracking was also compromised; dialog now seems to favor the center channel far more than it should. Rats! Yet in overall terms Miklos Rozsa's beautiful musical score is otherwise well served...


I intended to check just a few scenes of Ben-Hur then write my impressions, but wound up watching the whole movie all over again! I've found that the more I view it the more I came to appreciate the incredible wide range of facial expressions used by Charlton Heston in his portrayal of a man who suffers one terrible setback after another. No words can describe better -nor are necessary- than those facial expressions to depict the depths of emotional anguish and other similar feelings Judah Ben-Hur experiences...or the expression of utter happiness and love he finally displays at the film's end. Most moving indeed...No wonder he was nominated for an Oscar!

For those who think Heston was too "wooden" in the role of Ben-Hur I strongly suggest they revisit his best performance ever.

Yet the rest of the major participants also displayed acting feats that were nearly as good as Heston's performance. Indeed, Stephen Boyd portrayed Messala more than aptly, and is quite belivable as a man of its ilk. And Hawkins as Arrius was excellent, first as a highly driven and rather cold, cynical Roman military man, then as a most thankful, grateful, and loving father substitute. Of course, Wilder's direction and Surtees' photography shines like the stars!

With the new DVD video transfer Ben-Hur has finally received the treatment that is more than well deserved. It isn't perfect, and certainly it could have been much better, but for the moment it is the best video image available...at least until the day it is fully restored (both film and soundtrack), remastered, and put on a High Definition format that the average consumer can easily obtain.

There is no doubt that this magnificent American epic film should be a part of every serious movie collection...and is thus highly recommended...


-THTS


PS:


Li, you should try to get to that thread as most posts from other members are really valuable. If anything else fails, ask Dave Bott. I am sure he'll be able to help...







:) :)
 
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