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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "City Lights: A Comedy Romance in Pantomime")

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/chaplin.htm
USA 1931

My favorite Charlie Chaplin feature (1931) -- his first sound picture, but not, properly speaking, his first talkie--is also probably the one on which he exercised the most patience and perfectionism, with almost two years of shooting, countless retakes, and a recasting of the female lead (with Georgia Hale, his female lead in The Gold Rush, eventually replaced by Virginia Cherrill, who was herself subsequently fired and rehired, as the blind flower-selling street waif who believes Chaplin’s Tramp is a millionaire). It’s also quite likely the Chaplin feature that can boast the best DVD extras, including one brilliant seven-minute gag sequence that Chaplin deleted because it interfered with the film’s overall architecture. Interestingly enough, and significantly, the tragic final sequence, in close-ups, rightly regarded as the most emotionally wrenching sequence in Chaplin’s career, is edited in such a way that it has glaring continuity errors, none of which matter in the slightest because of the power of his performance.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's article "30 Great Movies on DVD" located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: January 30th, 1931 - Los Angeles, California

Reviews                    More Reviews                         DVD Reviews

Comparison: 

Image Entertainment (oop) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Warner (oop) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Kinowelt - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Nick Wrigley of Masters of Cinema for the Region 2 PAL DVD captures!

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Warner - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Kinowelt - Region B - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

  

 

 

Same transfer as UK Edition:

Distribution

Image Entertainment / CBS Fox

Region 0  - NTSC

Warner
Region 2 - PAL

Kinowelt

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine #680
Region 'A' -Blu-ray
Runtime 1:27:03 1:22:40 (4% PAL speedup) 1:27:00.215 1:26:47.202
Video

1.13 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.12 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.29:1 Pan and Scan
Average Bitrate: ?
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc Size: 22,336,516,561 bytes

Feature Size: 17,638,981,632 bytes

Average Bitrate: 23.99 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

1.19:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,994,649,991 bytes

Feature: 25,696,290,816 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.17 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

Image

 

Bitrate:

Warner

 

UNAVAILABLE at present

Bitrate: European

Blu-ray

 

Bitrate: Criterion

Blu-ray

 

Audio PCM English (Silent) (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) conducted by Carl Davis 1989, English (Silent) (Dolby Digital 1.0 Stereo) - Chaplin's Original Score

English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio Undetermined 1615 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1615 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit) LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles None English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Arabic, Bulgarian, Romanian, English for the hearing impaired, French for the hearing impaired, Italian for the hearing impaired and none - Extras is subtitled in: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, German, Dutch and none German, none None (Intertitles are English)
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Picture Boxed - 1.13:1

Edition Details:
• All Regions
• Black & White, Dolby
• Chaplin's own score in two version: the original 1931 mono soundtrack, or a new digitally-recorded PCM stereo version
• An interview with composer-conductor Carl Davis, who reconstructed the score in honor of the Chaplin Centennial in 1989
• Bonus Material: Original story notes, production data & publicity items


DVD Release Date: February 8, 2000
Snap Case

Chapters 20

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Studio

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.29:1

Edition Details:
• Introduction by David Robinson (discusses details of production)
• Chaplin Today: City Lights - 1916 cartoon footage of the little tramp.
• Documents
* behind-the-scenes material
* a screen test for Georgia Hale
* short film "The Dream Prince", Chaplin rehearsing the boxing scene,
* Winston Churchill visiting the set
• Additional Extra Features Also on disc two are trailers, six image galleries, a poster gallery, and a selection of clips from all the films in "The Chaplin Collection".
• Trailers

DVD Release Date: September 22nd, 2003
Custom Case

Keep Case

Chapters 20

Release Information:
Studio:
Kinowelt

 

Disc Size: 22,336,516,561 bytes

Feature Size: 17,638,981,632 bytes

Average Bitrate: 23.99 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

 

Edition Details:
• Introduction by David Robinson (discusses details of production 5:25)
• Chaplin Today: City Lights - 1916(26:47)
• The Tramp (1:10)
• Outtake Scene (7:00)
• Trailers

6 Galleries

Chaplin ABC (30:00)

 

Blu-ray Release Date: May 6th, 2010
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 8

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:

1.19:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,994,649,991 bytes

Feature: 25,696,290,816 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.17 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• New audio commentary by Charlie Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance
• Chaplin Today: “City Lights,” a 2003 documentary on the film, featuring Aardman Animations cofounder Peter Lord (26:48)
• Chaplin Studios: Creative Freedom by Design, a new interview program featuring visual effects expert Craig Barron (16:14)
• Archival footage from the production of City Lights, including film from the set, with audio commentary by Chaplin historian Hooman Mehran; a costume test; a rehearsal; and a complete scene not used in the film (8:35 + 7:25 + 1;24 + 1;14)
• Excerpt from Chaplin’s short film The Champion (1915 - 9:22), along with footage of the director with boxing stars at Chaplin Studios in 1918 (4:40)
• Trailers (8:47)
• One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins and a 1966 interview with Chaplin

Blu-ray Release Date: November 12th, 2013
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 17

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (September 2013): Firstly, Criterion have indeed attempted to maintain the original aspect ratio pillar-boxing. The Criterion AR clocks in at the advertised 1.19:1. Unfortunately, it is both a shade cropped against the Image Entertainment 2000 DVD (AR of 1.13:1) on the top and losing some information on the left edge of the European Blu-ray while simultaneously gaining on the right edge. My grudge was always against the unnatural 1.33:1 and I am very pleased Criterion did their best to adhere to the original presentation in this regard. The pillar-boxing was only a round for a short time and should be respected. What this is - is another 4K restoration transfer. The Criterion has different contrast (more pure) more texture. They have max'ed out the bitrate - significantly advancing over the Kinowelt/Studio Canal. This might be most obvious viewing the 'Final Note' capture. I suppose this will come down the personal preference but the Criterion is a strong improvement - toggle back and forth between large capture #7 - no contest. For myself the pillar-boxing is a big enough factor - the more robust, more detailed, transfer is added appreciation.

Criterion have also sought to recreate the original audio with a flat uncompressed monaural soundtrack in linear PCM. It sounds very tight, tinny and flat. I initially found it a bit grating but it grows on you and keeps you aware of the time period. The intertitles appear original and are, of course, in English. The Criterion is a region 'A'-locked Blu-ray.

Criterion stack this disc of one of the all time great pieces of cinema. We get a new audio commentary by Charlie Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance (author of Chaplin: Genius Of The Cinema.) Vance knows his stuff and shares important details relevant to the production. Chaplin fans will relish it. We get a 26-minute 2003 documentary on City Lights featuring Aardman Animations cofounder Peter Lord. It is entitled Chaplin Today: “City Lights” and found on other digital editions. Chaplin Studios: Creative Freedom by Design is a new 16-minute interview program featuring visual effects expert Craig Barron. What is really cool are 4 pieces of archival footage from the production of City Lights, including film from the set, with audio commentary by Chaplin historian Hooman Mehran; a costume test; a rehearsal; and a complete scene not used in the film. These four scenes run almost 20-minutes and are fascinating to see him at work. We get a 10-minute excerpt from Chaplin’s short film The Champion (1915 - 9:22), along with 5-minutes of footage of the director with boxing stars at Chaplin Studios in 1918. There are a hopping 9-minutes worth of trailers and being as the new dual-format the package contains a DVD, with all content available in both formats. Ther eis a booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins and a 1966 interview with Chaplin.

This is another of my all-time Top 10 films and I am pleased with Criterion's impressive package - from the robust pillar-boxed video to the Vance commentary and other extras - notably the archival footage. I would hope this was a blind buy before my review but, as far as I am concerned, you can buy this Blu-ray with extreme confidence.   

***

ADDITION: Kinowelt - Region 'B' Blu-ray - April 2010: Firstly, the HD transferred image has been differently framed showing much more on the left hand side, more also on the bottom and less on the top and right of the frame. I wasn't expecting it to be correctly pillar-boxed (see comments below) and I also knew it wouldn't have crystal clear clarity that some have come to expect from 1080P. This film was made 80-years ago - 80!.

The higher resolution does tend to look superior - more noticeable in some sections rather than others and, for the most part, I lean to this 'framing' version as the best composition for most (but not all) scenes. More information (backgrounds) is available and detail does improve. Contrast-wise this new Blu-ray is more faint than the Warner but slightly richer than the Image Entertainment. This strikes me as being more accurate to the source - I always felt the Warner's were black boosted to some degree. Occasionally though, I see the Kinowelt image as having some green infiltration. Not surprisingly the higher definition image looks the best on my system but it was hard, even for this reviewer, not to have grander expectations for grain and sharpness. It is soft. Because of the production age there is still contrast flickering and damage (less apparent and mostly frame specific). One interesting note is that this is the first viewing (I've seen this at least 20 times) where Chaplin's heavy pancake make-up was the most highly notable I can ever recall. I even believe I pointed-out a band-aid under his hat brim - not present in other shot of the very same scene. Those 'picky' might even consider this a continuity error but only visible through 1080P Blu-ray resolution. This established some confidence that I was probably seeing City Lights in the best presentation I am likely to ever find in my home.

I suspect this will be the same transfer offered in France, the UK and eventually the US but I can't be certain. Stay tuned.

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1615 kbps is still quite tinny but does exhibit some infrequent strength in depth, but this improvement, like the image, would be considered more subtle. However, it certainly does exist. Nice to see in this German edition the original English intertitles. There are optional German subtitles offered. My Momitsu has identified it is being Region 'B'-locked.

Extras start with a nifty advert for the Studio Canal Collection and offer some of what in the, now OOP, Warner package - most notable is the 1/2 hour long Chaplin ABC - silent but with German chapter cards.

I've always loved City Lights and it was such a pleasure seeing it looking and sounding it's best albeit softer than one would like. I'll still cherish my Image Entertainment disc. Expectantly, I laughed (boxing scene) and cried (finale). This is one of the great creators all-time achievements.

***

ON THE DVDs: I have been waiting to compare this disc as it is one of my favorite films of all time.

The Region 2 Boxset was overwhelmingly chosen as the DVD of the Year in our Poll located HERE, but in this instance the Image Entertainment Region 0 Disc has a strong advantage. The Warner DVD is cropped (it was originally show pillar-boxed NOT 1.33) and has PAL speedup. Contrast is better on the Warner (boosted?) but they appear equally as sharp. Well... what can we say. Extras go the way of the Warner, and I suspect the sound will as well, but the Image Entertainment disc does offer both the Carl Davis 1989 score and the original. The Warner does offer an inappropriate 5.1 version although this may be considered varying from the original presentation (although I'm sure it sounds great!).

The cropping by Warner is a disappointment. The Window-boxing (Pillar-boxing) was only around for a short period of time and it should be respected. It is a highly significant omission in my opinion.

 - Gary W. Tooze


Associated Reading  (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Menus

Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Warner - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT


 

Kinowelt - Region B - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Kinowelt - Region B - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Kinowelt - Region B - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

NOTE: You can't see the window frame behind the blind girl in the PAL DVD (boosted blacks)


 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Kinowelt - Region B - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Kinowelt - Region B - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

NOTE: Significant cropping Top and Bottom - see statue in background's head.

 


 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Kinowelt - Region B - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray captures

1) Kinowelt - Region B - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kinowelt - Region B - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kinowelt - Region B - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Recommended Reading on Chaplin (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"


Hit Counter


 

Box Covers

 

  

 

 

Same transfer as UK Edition:

Distribution

Image Entertainment / CBS Fox

Region 0  - NTSC

Warner
Region 2 - PAL

Kinowelt

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine #680
Region 'A' -Blu-ray




 

 

 

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Gary Tooze