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slowcloud 08-22-05 06:11 AM

The Apu Trilogy - out of print
 
Turns out The Apu Trilogy: Aparajito, World of Apu and Pather Panchali has suddenly gone OOP. I was about to sign up with Columbia House to get these, but they are no longer offered there. Then I see them unavailable at Amazon (Still fetching reasonable used prices, though) and out of stock everywhere else. Before I get any of these I was just wondering if anybody had news of reissues with better presentations and some extras.

dvdisoil 08-22-05 10:28 AM

From what i have read SONY has lost the rights to all of Satyajit Ray films - Heres hoping he gets the CRITERION treatment he deserves. -pray-

Ambassador 08-22-05 12:50 PM


Originally Posted by slowcloud
Before I get any of these I was just wondering if anybody had news of reissues with better presentations and some extras.

If you are region-free, then you may want to take a look at the British company Artificial Eye's Apu Trilogy boxset (region 2). Artificial Eye's release is far superior to Sony's in terms of image transfer and extras. I also think that the boxset is packaged handsomely. (The only drawback is that I find Sony's subtitling to be a little better.) Even with the exchange rates, you can grab the whole Apu Trilogy from Amazon.co.uk or Bensonsworld.co.uk for what you'd pay for the three separate Sony titles.

You can verify that Artificial Eye's transfer looks better by visiting DVDBeaver.


And I wouldn't count on Criterion releasing any Ray films any time soon. Over at the Criterion Forum, somebody asked Criterion and got the "no plans" reply.

slowcloud 08-22-05 07:58 PM

Thanks for the informative reply, guys! I had heard of Artificial Eye's releases, but I did not know they were that cheap. Glad to say I am region free.

shawagg 08-22-05 09:52 PM

There's this guy who teaches at UC Santa Cruz that got hollywood to restore all his films. He was waiting for Sony's licence to run out and wanted someone like Criterion to put them out. I read that about a year ago, not sure where it's at now.

FilmFanSea 08-22-05 10:39 PM


Originally Posted by shawagg
There's this guy who teaches at UC Santa Cruz that got hollywood to restore all his films. He was waiting for Sony's licence to run out and wanted someone like Criterion to put them out. I read that about a year ago, not sure where it's at now.

Excellent memory. As much as I love Ray, I had never seen this website:
Satyajit Ray Film & Study Collection at UCSC
I always thought that the restoration of Ray's films was sponspored by Merchant & Ivory.

As has been stated already, I would kill to have Criterion work its magic on as many of Ray's films as they could get their hands on, but it doesn't appear imminent.

Identify 08-22-05 10:41 PM

And here I thought this was some kind of Special Edition Simpsons DVD. Now back to our regularly scheduled thread.

shawagg 08-23-05 03:48 AM


Originally Posted by FilmFanSea
Excellent memory. As much as I love Ray, I had never seen this website:
Satyajit Ray Film & Study Collection at UCSC
I always thought that the restoration of Ray's films was sponspored by Merchant & Ivory.

As has been stated already, I would kill to have Criterion work its magic on as many of Ray's films as they could get their hands on, but it doesn't appear imminent.


This is the thing that has allways annoyed me about Criterion. I love em, but they are very euro-centric. Japanese films make it only on the popularity of the directors in the west-- Seven Samurai opened the door here.

India has the largest movie production industry in the world-- they're just come out of a period like the Golden Age of Hollywood and are now into the experimental and more adventureous. You're telling me Criterion doesn't think even one film is worthy?

shawagg 08-23-05 04:01 AM

BTW if you're interested here is a VERY good artical on Ray and UCSC

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...NG9O1QMNH1.DTL

wendersfan 08-23-05 08:19 AM


Originally Posted by shawagg
This is the thing that has allways annoyed me about Criterion. I love em, but they are very euro-centric. Japanese films make it only on the popularity of the directors in the west-- Seven Samurai opened the door here.

India has the largest movie production industry in the world-- they're just come out of a period like the Golden Age of Hollywood and are now into the experimental and more adventureous. You're telling me Criterion doesn't think even one film is worthy?

A lot of it has to do with rights, but by and large I agree with you. Criterion's has largely ignored the non-European film industry, Akira Kurosawa and Seijen Suzuki excepted. We need more Ozu, more Ichikawa, more Imamura. Where's the Mizoguchi, the Ray, the Makhmalbaf, the Sembene (yes, I know, he's African), the Zhang, the Hou, etc???

And even within Europe, Criterion still hasn't released any movie filmed in Spanish. -ohbfrank-

Falc04 08-23-05 08:23 AM


Originally Posted by Identify
And here I thought this was some kind of Special Edition Simpsons DVD. Now back to our regularly scheduled thread.

Me too.

shawagg 08-23-05 07:23 PM


Originally Posted by wendersfan
Sembene (yes, I know, he's African)-

Nothing wrong with that

duff beer 08-24-05 12:55 AM

Silly customer! You cannot hurt a twinkie.

RevKarl 08-24-05 01:03 AM


Originally Posted by shawagg
BTW if you're interested here is a VERY good artical on Ray and UCSC

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...NG9O1QMNH1.DTL

Thanks for the link to the article in the Chronicle...and to give credit where it is due, Michael Friend was the head of the AMPAS archive when the Ray film restoration project began and it would not have happened if not for his efforts.

pro-bassoonist 08-24-05 03:09 AM


Originally Posted by shawagg
This is the thing that has allways annoyed me about Criterion. I love em, but they are very euro-centric.

Such a statement is rather populist and could not be farther from the truth. If anything Criterion has to catch-up on their European titles OR perhaps I should say Eastern European directors. In fact, I consider Criterion to be very ignorant when it comes to Eastern European cinema. How come there is not a single Kusturica, Tarr, Mihalkov, Angelopoulos, etc.-title in their catalog. Coincidence?....I hardly think so!!

With this said even the Artificial Eye versions of the Trilogy are in dire need of stellar restoration work.


Pro-B

slowcloud 08-24-05 05:49 AM


Originally Posted by pro-bassoonist
... even the Artificial Eye versions of the Trilogy are in dire need of stellar restoration work.


Pro-B


So maybe there may indeed be plans for restored versions of these films in the U.S.? Maybe I should wait a few more months to see before I buy anything.

The Bus 08-24-05 08:24 AM


Originally Posted by pro-bassoonist
Such a statement is rather populist and could not be farther from the truth. If anything Criterion has to catch-up on their European titles OR perhaps I should say Eastern European directors. In fact, I consider Criterion to be very ignorant when it comes to Eastern European cinema. How come there is not a single Kusturica, Tarr, Mihalkov, Angelopoulos, etc.-title in their catalog. Coincidence?....I hardly think so!!

With this said even the Artificial Eye versions of the Trilogy are in dire need of stellar restoration work.


Pro-B

Criterion basically just handles "Western" movies and it appears most of their Japanese movies have "Western" themes or are what's "expected" from movies in Asia (Samurais, etc.).

Someone mentioned no films were in Spanish. Le Salaire de la Peur has some Spanish in it... :o

wendersfan 08-24-05 09:01 AM


Originally Posted by shawagg
Nothing wrong with that

Well, of course not, but all the other directors I listed were Asian, and I didn't want to confuse anyone.


Originally Posted by pro-bassoonist
Such a statement is rather populist and could not be farther from the truth. If anything Criterion has to catch-up on their European titles OR perhaps I should say Eastern European directors. In fact, I consider Criterion to be very ignorant when it comes to Eastern European cinema. How come there is not a single Kusturica, Tarr, Mihalkov, Angelopoulos, etc.-title in their catalog. Coincidence?....I hardly think so!!

At one point, it looked as if Criterion would have a strong Eastern European presence, with the release of several Czech New Wave films and the various Tarkovskys. Since then, theyve added the Wajda trilogy and I think that's about it. Still, you must admit that, as a region, Eastern Europe is far better represented in their catalogue than central or Western Asia, Latin America, or Africa.

pro-bassoonist 08-24-05 12:23 PM


Originally Posted by The Bus
Criterion basically just handles "Western" movies and it appears most of their Japanese movies have "Western" themes or are what's "expected" from movies in Asia (Samurais, etc.).

Someone mentioned no films were in Spanish. Le Salaire de la Peur has some Spanish in it... :o


This is a very accurate statement, right to the point!! About 90% of their releases are what I would describe "as mainstream" within the art-house genre. When you add up the Japanese titles to that group which as you point out correctly are what the audience in general expects (Samurais, etc). Criterion is indeed quite biased. Of course, nothing wrong with that but I think that in general the foreign market in the US is very much under that specific Hollywood-esque influence....with other words films that are not in English but are as close to what Hollywood would introduce to the public as possibe (Ong-Bak, Kung-Fu hussle, etc...these are the films that seem to be doing great).

As to whether or not Eastern Europe is better represented....I think that we are getting ourselves in a very delicate debate here. If we are speaking numbers...yes, you are correct, but if we are talking ratio....I hardly think so. Russia alone (or the Soviet Union for that matter) has as many notable films (pre-war and classic silents) as England, even more. Yet there are very few released through Criterion. Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania are also up there...esp, Romanian directors which MK2 recently began exploring. In general I think that the Eastern European directors are very much ignored. In fact, the few that have been released were actually working in foreign countries so their films are rather Western...and that is what I think made Criterion notice them.

Ciao,
Por-B

Ambassador 08-24-05 12:32 PM


Originally Posted by slowcloud
So maybe there may indeed be plans for restored versions of these films in the U.S.? Maybe I should wait a few more months to see before I buy anything.

As much as I always respect Pro-B's comments regarding DVDs from other regions, I respectfully have to disagree with his use of the adjective "dire" in his post. The Artificial Eye transfers definitely could have stood some further restoration, but considering the circumstances (namely, that the original negatives for the three Apu films no longer exist, having been destroyed by a fire), I think that AE's 3-disc release is more than acceptable, especially since it features some decent extras (including interviews with Ray on each disc and a masterclass on World of Apu).

That doesn't mean you have to buy the AE release. But in my opinion, it is clearly the best available. And if you are planning on waiting for another U.S. release, I'm afraid you'll be waiting for a long time. AFAIK, there are absolutely no R1 releases of any of Ray films on the immediate horizon. But you also have to temper my comments somewhat with the understanding that I consider the 3 Apu films to be essential must-owns, and since AE's release has given me pleasure for over a year, I'll consider it a worthy investment -- even if I have to replace it with an eventual (hopefully Criterion) release in another 12 months or so.

So take my comments for what they are worth....

pro-bassoonist 08-24-05 12:49 PM


Originally Posted by Ambassador
As much as I always respect Pro-B's comments regarding DVDs from other regions, I respectfully have to disagree with his use of the adjective "dire" in his post. The Artificial Eye transfers definitely could have stood some further restoration, but considering the circumstances (namely, that the original negatives for the three Apu films no longer exist, having been destroyed by a fire), I think that AE's 3-disc release is more than acceptable, especially since it features some decent extras (including interviews with Ray on each disc and a masterclass on World of Apu).


I don't think that you and I have different opinion on the subject of restoration. I only think that in a longer run better versions will appear (if Criterion indeed manages to acquire the rights...and I have strong suspicions that these films will appear in their collection). With this said there is no point of arguing about the existing R1/R2 versions. AE's discs are clearly the better ones, plain and simple!!! But even considering the fact that the original negatives are lost there are quite a few technical specs that could have been improved (as you well know AE are not that strong in the restoration department). HOWEVER, If you are on the market and you wish to own these films now by all means get the AEs though I am positive...sooner or later Criterion will restore what is possible and have them on the market. As you correctly point out above these films are calssics.

Pro-B

Ambassador 08-24-05 01:09 PM


Originally Posted by pro-bassoonist
I don't think that you and I have different opinion on the subject of restoration. I only think that in a longer run better versions will appear (if Criterion indeed manages to acquire the rights...and I have strong suspicions that these films will appear in their collection). With this said there is no point of arguing about the existing R1/R2 versions. AE's discs are clearly the better ones, plain and simple!!! But even considering the fact that the original negatives are lost there are quite a few technical specs that could have been improved (as you well know AE are not that strong in the restoration department). HOWEVER, If you are on the market and you wish to own these films now by all means get the AEs though I am positive...sooner or later Criterion will restore what is possible and have them on the market. As you correctly point out above these films are calssics.

Yep, Pro-B, you and are in agreement after all. I agree with all you've said, and I too hope for an eventual Criterion release. (They work miracles with films that, like the Apu films, face huge hurdles in restoration. For that reason, I'm really looking forward to their upcoming release of Tales of Hoffman.) It's just that, based on inquiries people over at the Criterion Forum have made, I doubt we'll see any Ray films on R1 for at least another six or nine months.

So, Slowcloud, you've got a tough choice to make. Wait for who knows how long, or get a decent (but not spectacular) existing release.

By the way, even though I agree with Pro-B about AE not being super-strong in the restoration department, they do have two other very nice releases that are worth picking up if you're in the market: Tarkovsky's The Mirror and The Complete Jean Vigo. Other than those, I'd do some careful detective work before blind-buying any AE release.

FilmFanSea 08-24-05 01:32 PM

I think what is being overlooked here is that >90% of the films Criterion has released on DVD are from the Janus film library---so it would be far more accuarte to describe Janus as "Western-Eurocentric." I would suspect that outside of the Janus holdings, Criterion has a limited acquisitions/licensing budget, and they have chosen to use it to acquire films that would sell on DVD (Truffaut, Fassbinder, Altman, Cronenberg, Dassin, Fuller, Gilliam, Lubitsch, Malle, Roeg, Sirk, Sturges, Visconti).

The home video rights to the films of many 'great' directors are held by other companies, or are otherwise unavailable to Criterion. For example:

New Yorker: Kusturica, Angelopoulos, Sembene, Ceylan, Alea, Jia, Kiarostami, Imamura, Makhmalbaf, Dardenne brothers, Ichikawa, Rivette, Godard, Eustache, Bresson, Pereira dos Santos, Diegues, Akerman, Palcy, Resnais, Zhang (most of whose films are held by MGM/Sony)

Wellspring: Carax, Chen, Hou, Panahi, Sokurov, Tsai, Yang

Kino: Cissé, Jansco, Mambéty, Tian, Wong, Kieslowski

Koch-Lorber: Kusturica


The argument about whether the Criterion Collection should contain a more balanced representation of International Cinema has been articulated many times before, but I think it often ignores the economic realities. Criterion has been so successful largely because it has mostly released the Janus-held Western European masterpieces that are revered by most mainstream cinephiles. Had they only had New Yorker's holdings to work from, say, they would be a less successful and less powerful company.

Further, Criterion is able to create definitive, loaded releases of the Janus films in part because it doesn't have to pay a large licensing fee (AFAIK). Companies which must first license their films don't have that luxury.

How many copies of Cissé's Yeelen do you think Kino sold? Peter Becker said in an interview within the last year that he was determined to bring out Mizoguchi's Ugetsu (now slated for November) even though it was almost guaranteed to lose money. If an acknowledged masterpiece such as Ugetsu can't make money, what of the more obscure directors/films mentioned in this thread? If Home Vision had been making good money off their DVD catalog, would the owners have sold it off to Image? Fantoma appears kaput; Wellspring's new parent company is in financial trouble; New Yorker either doesn't care or can't afford to properly release its films to DVD.

I think Criterion will continue to release more obscure world masterpieces, but in a very limited way. As the A-List Janus holdings are exhausted, the company will have to further refine its business plan in order to stay viable.

slowcloud 08-24-05 03:28 PM

Thanks, everyone, for the interesting information and perspectives! You all have provided more insight into my decision of purchasing these titles than I would have expected. Although, I would have bout all 3 for less than $2 each for joining Columbia House in a heartbeat on U.S. R1, the fact that they are out of print on R1, and I would have to hunt down the import versions, along with the looming possibility of reissues-- be it ever so slight-- in the next year, leads me to conclude: I shall wait and see what develops. But the deciding factor actually comes up when I consider how many titles I still own that I have still to watched, and, also, the handful of titles still coming out this year that I want to own and watch (not to mention some theatrical releases coming down the pike at the cinema house). Considering my tight viewing schedule, I think it would be worth the wait and see. I already see prices jumping up at Amazon.com's third party market for these titles-- all the more reason to wait! I’m glad to have learned about the AE versions, though, and knowing those are out there makes me feel more secure about waiting.

wendersfan 08-24-05 03:43 PM

I hate to quote one point out of context in your excellent post, but,


Originally Posted by FilmFanSea
How many copies of Cissé's Yeelen do you think Kino sold?

Kino's release of Yeelen lists for $29.95 (according to Amazon). That's almost certainly how much a Criterion release of the same film would cost, but instead of a barebones release with a (likely) shoddy print, Criterion would include lots of extras and the finest print quality that could be obtained. The two companies' reputations precede them - people who have never heard of Cissé might likely buy a Crierion release on brand recognition alone; I can't imagine anyone doing that, ever, for a Kino release. Many, many times I have decided not to buy DVDs of films I live, simply because they are released by Kino or New Yorker, and I have no intention of paying through the nose for a shitty DVD (no matter how great the film is). Criterion's pricing might be higher than the industry average, but when compared to their competitors in the niche, art-film market, they deliver more value for your money than the rest.


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