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(aka 'La Splendeur des Amberson')


http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/welles.htm
USA 1942

Narrator: "Something had happened. A thing which, years ago, had been the eagerest hope of many, many good citizens of the town, and now it had come at last; George Amberson Mainafer had got his comeuppance. He got it three times filled, and running over. But those who had so longed for it were not there to see it, and they never knew it. Those who were still living had forgotten all about it and all about him."

***

Orson Welles was not only a genius—he played one on the screen. The most lavishly gifted Hollywood director of his generation, this all-around showboat both lived and dramatized the self-serving Promethean spectacle of the outsize artistic temperament laid low by the constraints of commerce.

Adapted from Booth Tarkington's barely remembered Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about social change in turn-of-the-century Indianapolis, The Magnificent Ambersons was in production when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Less than two months later, patriotic Welles took off on a war-related mission to Latin America that would result in his unfinished documentary It's All True. Ambersons' original 131-minute cut was entrusted to editor Robert Wise. The movie tested poorly with audiences, and the RKO brass deemed it too long and too gloomy; Ambersons was re-edited in Welles's absence, or, should we say, it was butchered.

Thus, the movie became the sacred relic of Welles's martyrdom. About 50 minutes were cut, and new material was indifferently filmed and inserted along with several crass reaction shots designed to break the flow and make obvious what particular characters were feeling.

Excerpt from J. Hoberman's review from The Village Voice located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: July 10th, 1942

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DVD Comparison:

Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL vs. Universal Picture Video (UK) - Region 2- PAL vs. Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC

 

1) Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL LEFT

2) Universal Picture Video (UK) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Warner (part of the Citizen Kane Amazon Exclusive Blu-ray) - Region 1,4 - NTSC - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL Warner - Region 1,4 -  NTSC
Runtime 1:28:12  1:28:06  1:28:03
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 3.92 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.16 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.22 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: Montparnasse

Bitrate: Universal

Bitrate: Warner

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0)   English (Dolby Digital 2.0) English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles French, None English, None English, Spanish, French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Éditions Montparnasse

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: September 24th, 2004

Slim Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 10

Release Information:
Studio: Universal (UK)

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• An Unfinished Masterpiece: An Interview With Bill Krohn (In French with English subtitles) - 17:58

• Trailer

DVD Release Date: May 29th, 2006

Black Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• None

DVD Release Date: September 13th, 2011

Standard Keep Case
Chapters: 9

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Warner single-disc DVD now available separately (January 31st, 2012)

ADDITION: - Warner (Included supplement in the Citizen Kane 70th Anniversary Blu-ray) - September 15th 2011 - Although this still appears at the mercy of the available elements - thankfully Warner have finally given us The Magnificent Ambersons in a watchable SD-DVD transfer. The European editions were both severely flawed. the French was green with so much edge-enhancement boosting that the resulting image was super-thin and resolutely poor - the UK Universal was interlaced and both were taken from unconverted standards sources.

Now Presently this Warner DVD edition is ONLY available in an Amazon Exclusive with the exact same impressive Citizen Kane Blu-ray package reviewed HERE. It stands as being about $15 more now with this The Magnificent Ambersons DVD included.

This DVD is single-layered, but progressive and may not be the 1080P that fans would have most appreciated but it is easily the best Home Theater digital presentation currently available. Contrast is strong, detail is notably ahead of the comparable DVDs and there is some grain visible. The audio sounds as though it may have been 'cleaned up' and there are optional English, French or Spanish subtitles. It is coded for regions 1 and 4 in the NTSC standard.

The disc is bare-bones with no supplements at all.

I expect this will become available as a lone edition one day. I like to view the glass as half full and there is some definite positives to be found in this DVD although important supplements and an HD image would have been preferable. 

***

ADDITION: - Universal Picture (UK) - June 1st 2006 - Another interlaced analog transfer with combing evident. It does show the huge amount that is cropped from the Montparnasse transfer. The Universal does not appear as sharp because the French DVD is laced with edge enhancement. The Universal has some extras - a totally un-restored trailer and the 18 minute interview with Bill Krohn which is very good. So, I would advise to wait although there is no definite date for the Region 1, which will undoubtedly be the best. If you are keen on purchasing and seeing this masterpiece now - then go for the Universal (UK). Better in all areas (less manipulation and cropping), extras and it even has optional English subtitles. 

***

ON THE MONTPARNASSE DVD: The transfer is quite weak - barley tube acceptable and with an appallingly low bitrate. The source is definitely analog and there is extensive 'combing' in all horizontal pans. There appears to be some contrast boosting as well and edge enhancements. The mono track is again weak but audible and fairly consistent. The good news is that the French subtitles ARE removable (on my system - we will wait to hear if anyone else is incapable). It is great to have this masterpiece on digital especially with no definite date for coming to Region 1 - NTSC anytime soon. I'd say this is worth the price for any serious collection.

 

NOTE: Warner reps have stated in a chat -

[Warner] We're still looking for better materials on AMBERSONS. We waited for KONG and KANE and it was worth it. It will be worth it for the AMBERSONS, and yes, we will release JOURNEY INTO FEAR when we do AMBERSONS. (Thanks Jeremy)

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus

 

(Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL LEFT vs. Universal Picture Video (UK) - Region 2- PAL RIGHT)


 
 
 

 

Warner (part of the Citizen Kane Amazon Exclusive Blu-ray) - Region 1,4 - NTSC

 


Subtitle Sample   NOTE: Not exact frame 

 

1) Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Universal Picture Video (UK) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Warner (part of the Citizen Kane Amazon Exclusive Blu-ray) - Region 1,4 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Universal Picture Video (UK) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Warner (part of the Citizen Kane Amazon Exclusive Blu-ray) - Region 1,4 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Universal Picture Video (UK) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Warner (part of the Citizen Kane Amazon Exclusive Blu-ray) - Region 1,4 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Universal Picture Video (UK) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Warner (part of the Citizen Kane Amazon Exclusive Blu-ray) - Region 1,4 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Universal Picture Video (UK) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Warner (part of the Citizen Kane Amazon Exclusive Blu-ray) - Region 1,4 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Universal Picture Video (UK) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Warner (part of the Citizen Kane Amazon Exclusive Blu-ray) - Region 1,4 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

1) Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Universal Picture Video (UK) - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Warner (part of the Citizen Kane Amazon Exclusive Blu-ray) - Region 1,4 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


 


Associated Reading (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

This is Orson Welles
by Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Rosenbaum
Orson Welles on Shakespeare: The W.P.A. and Mercury Theatre Playscripts
by Orson Welles, Simon Callow, Richard France
Orson Welles: Interviews (Conversations with Filmmakers (Paperbacks))
by Orson Welles, Mark W. Estrin
The Trial
by Franz Kafka
Orson Welles : The Stories of His Life
by Peter Conrad
Rosebud : The Story of Orson Welles
by David Thomson
Encyclopedia of Orson Welles (Great Filmmakers)
by Chuck Berg, Tom Erskine, John C. Tibbetts, James M. Welsh, Thomas L. Erskine
Chimes at Midnight: Orson Welles, Director (Rutgers Films in Print)
by Bridget Gellert Lyons

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Éditions Montparnasse - Region 0 - PAL Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL Warner - Region 1,4 -  NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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