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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Lola Montez' or 'The Fall of Lola Montes' or 'The Sins of Lola Montes" )


Directed by Max Ophüls

France / West Germany 1955

 

Andrew Sarris in 1963 dubbed this film the greatest ever made, and although he's noted for his quirky opinions, he's no fool. A masterpiece, LOLA MONTES is certainly director Max Ophüls' greatest achievement. In flashback, we take a fascinating look at the life of the passionate yet oddly passive title character (Carol, more perfect in the part than she could possibly have fathomed). Introduced by a New Orleans circus master (Ustinov), the aging Lola answers (or has answered for her) personal questions from the audience for a small fee. The ringmaster tells of her many romances throughout Europe, including one with Franz Liszt (Quadflieg) and another with the king of Bavaria (Walbrook). In the last scene, Lola (who throughout has been made to perform various acts like a well-trained seal) stands atop a high platform, preparing for a dangerous jump. Her health is as precarious as her position, yet the ringmaster removes the safety net. The finale is unforgettable.
 

Along with Michael Powell's BLACK NARCISSUS, this is one of the most gorgeous films ever shot in color. Eastmancolor generally pales beside Technicolor; leave it to Ophuls to make the most of it. Ditto the use of CinemaScope, which Ophuls didn't want and tried to negate by using pillars and curtains at the edges of the frame. The effect is to frame the whole affair as a performance, and Ophüls' innate visual flair makes shot after shot (e.g. the descending chandeliers at the opening) a stunning use of widescreen. He even knows when to ditch both resources, as Lola's most intimate moments are signaled with a ghostly blue monochrome and a tight closeup with most of the frame in black. His customary genius with the camera has rarely been on better display, as he dizzyingly dollies 360 degrees around the trapped, immobile Lola while the exploitative ringmaster spins her platform. Never cutting when camera movement will do, Ophüls tilts, tracks and cranes magnificently, embodying Lola's flashback motto, "For me, life is movement." By contrast, the overwhelmingly cluttered mise en scene of the circus all but smothers the degraded courtesan.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 23rd, 1955

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Comparison: 

Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Fox Lorber

Region 0 - NTSC

Second Sight

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection (Spine # 503)

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:50:08 1:50:28 (4% PAL speedup) 1:55:33.259
Video

2.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.55 mb/s

NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
 

2.55:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.72 mb/s

PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc Size: 47,119,159,399 bytes

Feature Size: 31,462,582,272 bytes

Average Bitrate: 32.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate :

 Fox Lorber

Bitrate :

Second Sight

Bitrate :

 Blu-ray

Audio French, German, English (Dolby Digital mono 2.0) French, German, English (Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo) DTS-HD Master Audio French/German/English 2220 kbps 3.0 / 48 kHz / 2220 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 3.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English (burned-in) English (burned-in) English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Fox Lorber

Aspect Ratio:
Letterboxed widescreen - 2.30:1

Edition Details:

• Filmographies
• Awards list
• Production credits


DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 1999

Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Second Sight

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.55:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Susan White, author of 'The Cinema Of Max Ophuls'
Lola Montes Revisted - A documentary on the making of the film (1:09:27)


DVD Release Date:
July 6th, 2009
Keep Case

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

Disc Size: 47,119,159,399 bytes

Feature Size: 31,462,582,272 bytes

Average Bitrate: 32.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary featuring Max Ophuls scholar Susan White
• “Max Ophuls ou le plaisir de tourner,” a 1965 episode of the French television program Cinéastes de notre temps, featuring interviews with many of Ophuls’s collaborators (53:10 in HD!)
• Max by Marcel, a new documentary by Marcel Ophuls about his father and the making of Lola Montès (32:56 in HD!)
• Silent footage of actress Martine Carol briefly demonstrating the various glamorous hairstyles in Lola Montès
(1:04 in HD!)
• Theatrical rerelease trailer from Rialto Pictures  (2:20 in HD!)
• 28-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Gary Giddins


 Blu-ray Release Date :February 16th, 2010
Transparent (thick) Blu-ray Case

Chapters 23

 

Comments:

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

Released in Paris December 23rd, 1955, Lola Montes, directed by Max Ophüls, caused an unprecedented scandal. Faced with commercial failure of the movie, the producers decided to cut some scenes, to translate some of the German dialogues to French, and to remix the sound. At the end of 1956 against the director's wishes, the film was cut further and re-edited chronologically. In 2008, thanks to digital technology, Le Cinémathèque Française is able to release a completely restored version, faithful to Max Ophüls wishes with the colors, stereo sound and format originally intended.

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray - February 2010 - It appears as though our wish has come true with Criterion taking Max Ophuls' restored masterpiece to 1080P. Produced from the same completely restored version as the Second Sight PAL DVD - colors seem faithful but everything is much tighter. Detail seems the biggest recipient of the improved resolution. Everything that was slightly hazy has come into clear focus with even more of an improvement than I was anticipating. Grain is apparent texturizing the presentation with a film-like 'feel'. The visuals are quite stunning at times and there is even some depth in the scenes with a grander scale of the extreme widescreen that I calculate to be about 2.56:1(later prints were made at 2.35 -cropping information from the side edges). Most facets of the video transfer are dramatically improved on the Blu-ray - as I hope the screen captures will bear out.

The original audio was in something called '4-track magnetic stereo' - an early attempt at surround sound available only for Cinemascope films. It consisted of left, right and center channels - plus a 4th surround that was rarely used by filmmakers because of its inferior quality. This has been rendered in the original French (German and some English) to a DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0 channel at 2220 kbps. While sounding at times a bit echo-y - it is a marvelous improvement. Unlike both DVDs - the Criterion dual-layered Blu-ray has optional English subtitles (they were 'fixed' on the SD transfers) -perfectly rendered with improved translations. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.

Fans of the director are treated to the same audio commentary as on the 2009 DVD featuring Max Ophüls scholar Susan White author of 'The Cinema Of Max Ophüls'. As stated below - it is very strong and worthy of indulging. I got just as much out of it the second time.“Max Ophüls ou le plaisir de tourner,” an October 26th, 1965 episode of the French television program Cinéastes de notre temps runs for 53 minutes (pretty rough shape) and features interviews with many of the director's collaborators including actors and crew, like Simone Simon and Danielle Darrieux, from earlier Ophüls films. Like all video features on the disc this is in HD. Max by Marcel is a new 1/2 hour documentary by Marcel Ophüls pays tribute to his father and the making of Lola Montès. Also included are new and archival interviews with more Ophüls' collaborators. We get a little over a minute's worth of silent footage of actress Martine Carol briefly demonstrating the various glamorous hairstyles in Lola Montès and there is the theatrical rerelease trailer from Rialto Pictures lasting about 2.5 minutes. Included is a 28-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Gary Giddins.

It truly feels like a 'l'âge d'or' for serious film fans to enjoy some the greatest works that cinema can offer from the comfort of their home theaters. As I considered the DVD an essential - this certainly holds true for the Criterion Blu-ray. It's a glorious achievement respecting the director's masterpiece in a blossoming format from the meticulously restored print. Easy enough to say we give this a HUGE endorsement. Buy with confidence and immerse yourself in one the most admired films every created.

Gary Tooze  

***

ON THE DVDs (July 2009) :To get the 1999 Fox Lorber DVD out of the way - it is taken from an unconverted PAL source (with the associated artifacts and ghosting deficiencies), cropped on the left edge with, unusually, a shade more on the right edge, it is non-anamorphic (in an inaccurate 2.3:1 aspect ratio) and, as you can see below, the colors are drastically muted. It also seems to be vertically stretched, has burned-in English subtitles and 2.0 channel mono sound.

The new Second Sight is a glorious step forward - approximately 2.55 aspect ratio, vibrant colors but still suffers the limitations of the SD format. This would be wonderful to see in the glory of 1080P resolution. The PAL edition has the stereo sound which is clear and clean. As it stands there are some minor artifacts and the English subtitles remain non-removable. I haven't fully tested but it appears as though they are similarly burned-in which is a black-mark. I should note that the translation is often different with the Second Sight which seems more detailed.

Supplement-wise the Fox Lorber had some text screens where the Second Sight offers a full, and professional, commentary by Susan White, author of 'The Cinema Of Max Ophuls'. It's very factual, a little dry, but has some excellent analysis infused into your viewing. I think this is VERY much worth listening to and I would think Ophüls fans will appreciate. She was definitely the right person chosen. An 1 hour 10-minute long documentary on the making of the film is included entitled Working With max Ophüls - Lola Montes Revisted. I'm not quite through it but is detailed and, at times, quite fascinating.

I suppose this is a silly comparison as the Second Sight is so far in advance but it does help to indicate the extensive restorative work that has been done. Bravo! This Region 2 DVD is a must-own as far as I am concerned. I'm so happy to have it in my library although would love to see it in the glory of Blu-ray one day. Gigantic thumbs up!

Gary Tooze  

 



Menus

 

Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL RIGHT
 

 

Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Second Sight - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Fox Lorber

Region 0 - NTSC

Second Sight

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection (Spine # 503)

Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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