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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'People on Sunday')

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/ulmer.htm

and Curt Siodmak, Robert Siodmak, and Fred Zinnemann
Germany 19
30

 

Years before they became major players in Hollywood, a group of young German filmmakers—including eventual noir masters Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer and future Oscar winners Billy Wilder and Fred Zinnemann—worked together on the once-in-a-lifetime collaboration People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag). This effervescent, sunlit silent, about a handful of city dwellers (a charming cast of nonprofessionals) enjoying a weekend outing, offers a rare glimpse of Weimar-era Berlin. A unique hybrid of documentary and fictional storytelling, People on Sunday was both an experiment and a mainstream hit that would influence generations of film artists around the world.

***

This light-hearted tale of five young Berliners - a taxi driver, a traveling wine dealer, a record shop sales girl, a film extra and a model - spending a typical summer Sunday, is considered to be one of the most important works of the German film Avant-Garde of the 1920s. A trip to the countryside reveals the flirtations, rivalries, jealousies, and petty irritations common to any group outing, but all too soon it's the end of the day, and the prospect of Monday and the return to the weekday routine looms.

A blend of feature and documentary, the five principals are all amateurs who actually worked at the jobs described in the film so their performances are strikingly natural and unselfconscious. The film was shot over a number of Sundays and the sense of unforced credibility derives from the fact that these were exactly what the title suggests - ordinary Berliners on their day off, doing pretty much what they would have been doing in any case. This honesty and quietly ironic observation lends the film a timeless, universal appeal.

People on Sunday was a huge influence on the French New Wave (for instance, Renoir's Toni and Partie de campagne) and Italian Neorealist movements - Luciano Emmer's Domenica d'Agosta is virtually a direct homage. It also marked the start of the film careers of six young cinéastes who would go on to great international success: Billy Wilder, Robert and Curt Siodmak (who wrote the screenplay based on a short story by Curt Siodmak), Edgar G Ulmer, Eugen Schüfftan (director of photography) and Fred Zinnemann (camera assistant).

The original negative of the film is lost and no complete copy exists, but this restored version has been reconstructed by the Netherlands Film Museum and contains important scenes previously missing. It also features a vibrant new score by Elena Kats-Chernin.

Theatrical Release: February 4th, 1930 - Germany

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Comparison:

BFI - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray

BFI -  Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection, spine #569 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:13:45  1:14:00.636
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.48 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080i Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 42,470,726,466 bytes

Feature: 23,019,460,608 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.95 Mbps

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio Silent with musical accompaniment by Elena Kats-Chernin (Dolby Digital 1.0)  LPCM Audio German 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio German 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• This Year - London - 1951 (25 min) short
• Filmmakers bios
• 12-page liner notes booklet includes essay by Philip Kemp

DVD Release Date: April 25th, 2005

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

1080i Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 42,470,726,466 bytes

Feature: 23,019,460,608 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.95 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
• Two scores: a silent-era-style score by the Mont Alto Orches­tra and a modern one by Elena Kats-Chernin, performed by the Czech Film Orchestra (both presented as uncompressed stereo soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition)
• Weekend am Wannsee, Gerald Koll’s 2000 documentary about the film, featuring interviews with star Brigitte Borchert and writer Curt Siodmak (31:15)
• Ins Blaue hinein, a thirty-six-minute short from 1931 by People on Sunday cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan (35:30)
• Liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Noah Isenberg and reprints by scriptwriter Billy Wilder and director Robert Siodmak

Blu-ray Release Date: June 28th, 2011
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 15

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - June 11': People on Sunday blew me away when I first saw it about 6-years ago and to have it now looking so rich and thick with grain and appearing, even more, film-like is a super treat. My expertise in areas of transfer does not include the frame-rate issue with many Silent films - the Criterion Blu-ray transfer is interlaced (1080i) and my assumption is that it relates to the frame-rate but that is far as I am willing to guess. The one point I will make is that, even under scrutiny, the 'combing phenomenon associated with a non-progressive transfer, seems less apparent via hi-def. However there is significant flickering. The Criterion is advertised as a 'New high-definition digital restoration, created in collaboration with the EYE Film Institute Netherlands .' In-motion the new format version of People on Sunday is quite entrancing.

Criterion supply the option of two scores: a silent-era-style score by the Mont Alto Orches­tra and a modern one by Elena Kats-Chernin, performed by the Czech Film Orchestra both presented in linear PCM stereo tracks at 2304 kbps. The modern score is, more resonant but I was also keen on the silent-era-style score that captured a bit more of the vintage flavor sounding bouncy and fitting. There are optional subtitles and the Blu-ray disc is, as always from Criterion, coded for region 'A'.

Extras consist of the 1/2 hour Weekend am Wannsee, Gerald Koll’s 2000 documentary about the film, featuring interviews with star Brigitte Borchert and writer Curt Siodmak and Ins Blaue hinein, a thirty-six-minute short from 1931 by People on Sunday cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan. This is similar to People on Sunday in many ways. There is a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Noah Isenberg and reprints by scriptwriter Billy Wilder and director Robert Siodmak.

Very nice package - I have this fantasy about lending it to friends with more mainstream tastes in hopes of 'converting' them in some manner. But I suggest that anyone willing to open up their mind to experiencing People on Sunday will definitely benefit from it from a viewing. If I had ever actually taken a trip in a time machine - seeing this film is what I might compare it to. Absolutely recommended!

***

ON THE BFI DVD: I'm going to do some speculation here - occasionally because of frame rate conversion from older silent films that are mastered in HD we can have 'trailing" as a process of the transfer of such an older film. I don't think though that this was transferred progressively (one frame at time) and can possibly be the same reason it shows limited 'combing' (see last capture). Regardless of that - the image looks marvelous - absolutely super. There was contrast flickering evident but it was often on the very last frame or 2 of certain scenes. I assume that the intertitles are new - and they look perfect as do the optional subtitles. There was minor dirt and scratches at times, but all 'flaws' of this image are more-or-less expected from a 75 year old film... but more - from a film virtually lost (original negative gone for good) and reconstructed. Amazing!

BFI have brought us an important film from cinema history and we applaud them for it. I'll admit it - I was mesmerized while viewing. I feel like locking this DVD in the safe every night (if I had a safe). The liner notes extras are great for appreciation of the film. The "This Year -London" short featurette has some relational camp. I think People on Sunday was worthy of a commentary being that it is quite short, but I won't be a nitpicker. An ESSENTIAL DVD! out of    

Gary W. Tooze

 

Kevin tells us:   I would like to let you know that, more or less parallel to the BFI release of Menschen am Sonntag, the Dutch Film Museum itself also released the film on DVD. 'While watching I can't check what the exact length of the feature is, but the inlay says it's 76 minutes - so supposedly three minutes longer than the BFI release. But I guess this can't be right, since both releases are PAL editions of the same Filmmuseum-restoration. However, compared to your screenshots the Dutch version seems to be much brighter (not too bright though), less black and revealing much more detail in the image. This DVD has the same ghosting artefacts you noticed.

The extras are different: it includes the making of Weekend at Wannsee and a featurette about the restoration. Last but not least, the score included is not the Karmin orchestral score, but a warm-blooded, often very funny Techno soundtrack by the Dutch Alliage Orchestra that merges perfectly with the timeless style and atmosphere of the images. The best moment is when at the beach one of the girls switches on the gramophone - at the moment the needle hits the groove, beats start pumping from the speakers!!! a 1929 ghetto-blaster!

O yes, also worth mentioning: the dvd was presented at the Dutch Filmmuseum Bienalle. At the cinema, they used the DVD and not the original 35 mm copy, beamer and all, but the quality of the projection was superb. I really think I wouldn't have guessed it was digital had they not projected the DVD menu as well!!!

 

MORE:

I just read the review of PEOPLE ON SUNDAY and the remarks by Kevin on the Filmmuseum Biennial screening of the film. He states it was shown from DVD, this is actually not true. It was projected from the 35mm print. It may have looked like it was shown from the new DVD released by the Filmmuseum because before the screening they projected the dvdmenu. But that was only to promote the DVD release. Once the screening started, the film print was used.
 

Kind regards,
André Waardenburg
filmcritic (Amsterdam, Holland)

 


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Intertitle/Subtitle Sample

 

BFI -  Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

BFI -  Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


BFI -  Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


BFI -  Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


BFI -  Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


BFI -  Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


 
 'Combing' evident
 
BFI -  Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection, spine #569 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 





 

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