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K 1944

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s beloved classic A Canterbury Tale is a profoundly personal journey to Powell’s bucolic birthplace of Kent, England. Set amid the tumult of the Second World War, yet with a rhythm as delicate as a lullaby, the film follows three modern-day incarnations of Chaucer’s pilgrims—a melancholy “landgirl,” a plainspoken American GI, and a resourceful British sergeant—who are waylaid in the English countryside en route to the mythical town and forced to solve a bizarre village crime. Building to a majestic climax that ranks as one of the filmmaking duo’s finest achievements, the dazzling A Canterbury Tale has acquired a following of devotees passionate enough to qualify as pilgrims themselves.

***

Master Film creators Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made an homage to Powell's native Canterbury wrapped inside a closet-mystery adaptation of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Four modern pilgrims on a quest that briefly unites them. A film that you never really want to end. out of  

Gary W. Tooze

Very nearly plotless, this 1944 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger represents one of the few times the narrative cinema has approached the lyrical ideal. Crossing wartime Britain, a group of travelers--including an American GI, a young woman from London, and an English officer--linger in a small farming village, ostensibly to solve a peculiar mystery (someone is putting glue in the local girls' hair), but really because of the spell (quite literal, in P and P's mystical vision) cast upon them by the countryside. Over the hill lies Canterbury Cathedral, and as parallels begin to emerge with Chaucer's pilgrims, the characters find themselves being drawn to it, for a soft-pedaled climax that represents the fulfillment of their individual quests. Strange and wonderful.

Excerpt of Dave Kehr's comments HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: August 21st, 1944 - UK (premiere)

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DVD Comparison:

 Carlton -  Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC

(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Carlton Visual Entertainment - Region 2- PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 341 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:59:24 2:04:40
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.86 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.5 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Carlton

 

Bitrate: 

Criterion

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby)  English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby)
Subtitles None English, none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Carlton Visual Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer ad for Carlton's Silver Collection

DVD Release Date: November 10th, 1999

Keep Case
Chapters: 15

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by film historian Ian Christie
• Excerpts from the American Version, with Kim Hunter
• Video interview with actress Sheila Sim
• A Pilgrim’s Return, a documentary about John Sweet, by Nick Burton and Eddie McMillan
• A Canterbury Trail, a new documentary visiting the film locations, by David Thompson
• Listen to Britain, 2001 video installation piece inspired by A Canterbury Tale, by artist Victor Burgin
• Listen to Britain, a 1942 documentary by Humphrey Jennings
• Liner notes booklet featuring essays by Graham Fuller, Peter von Bagh, and actor John Sweet

DVD Release Date:
July 25th, 2006
Double thick Keep Case
Chapters: 18

Comments:

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 1- NTSC - July 2006: - Well, there are huge differences between these two releases. The Criterion is infinitely superior in every area. Unfortunately, the NTSC DVD is windowboxed - which has become a common practice for Criterion's older 1.33 films. For a detailed description of window-boxing see our Kind Heart and Coronets review HERE. Although we are against the practice - we cannot refute Criterion's digital superiority in bringing us the best films, with the best image... and best supplements.

As far as the image goes I can't add anything that you cannot see in the captures below. I think I nabbed all the capture matches accurately but I may be off a frame here or there - hence I decided to add many more than usual. I believe the prints may be different as the damages marks never seem to be the same. Criterion does have instances where they do show damage - usually in the form of light vertical scratches. There is some flickering of contrast and I see slight frame shifts with neither gaining the upper hand in cropping. Overall nothing seem to matter as much as the sharpness factor - Criterion have done some spot manipulation but contrast is still pristine. Occasional digital noise can be seen later in the film. In direct comparison the Carlton is very hazy.   

The Ian Christie commentary on the main DVD is quite good, as are all the extra features on the 2nd disc. Christie is very well-prepared and has an excellent clear and lightly-accented voice. At times he can be a bit dry but I very much enjoyed hearing his insights. He can really go into detail about the geographical region at times. Christie really knows his stuff. Of the other supplements - the US version excerpts are kind of interesting - although I can't imagine the film with Kim Hunter now. I enjoyed listening to the Humphrey Jennings audio stuff.  All the Shelia Sim interview, the 'Pilgrimage' and the 'trail' featurettes are all very warm and a delight to see. They kind of captures the same homey/small town feeling of the film.

Overall, this is another of my favorite Powell and Pressburger films and I encourage everyone to watch it in the best possible digital representation available - that would be the Criterion. I wouldn't allow the windowboxing to discourage you in this case - the film looks too good and the extras are at Criterions highest level.      

Gary W. Tooze





DVD Menus

(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC RIGHT)

 
 

 

Criterion - Disc 2

 


Screen Captures

 

NOTE: Captures are not resized from there native resolutions.

 

(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 

 


(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 

 


(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


(Carlton - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


Associated Reading (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Carlton Visual Entertainment - Region 2- PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 341 - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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