S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
The Thief of Bagdad [Blu-ray]
(Raoul Walsh, 1924)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Douglas Fairbanks Pictures
Video: Cohen Media Group
Region: FREE (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 45,910,712,045 bytes
Feature Size: 42,252,567,936 bytes
Video Bitrate: 29.03 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: February 19th, 2013
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2232 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2232 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
• Audio commentary by Fairbanks biographer Jeffrey Vance
•Fairbanks and Fantasy (17:07) including rare behind-the-scenes photographs
• 2012 Restoration trailer (2:25)
Description: Douglas Fairbanks is at his most graceful and charismatic in one of the classic silent films of the 1920s. As the thief of Baghdad, his movements are dance-like -- nothing like the athletics he performed in most of his other films. In this Arabian take, the thief ignores the holy teachings and sneaks into the palace of the Caliph (Brandon Hurst). All thoughts of robbery slip away, however, when he sees the beautiful princess (Julanne Johnston). Princes have come from many faraway lands to win the princess' hand (and it's amusing to watch her face growing ever more alarmed at their arrival, because each one is uglier than the last). The thief disguises himself as a prince and the princess falls in love with him. After having a pang of conscience, the thief confesses all to the Holy Man (Charles Belcher), who sends him to find a magic chest. He braves many obstacles to get it, and when he returns he discovers that the Mongol Prince (Sojin) has taken over the city. Using the chest, the reformed thief creates armies of men out of nothingness and recaptures the city. He then uses the cloak of invisibility to spirit the princess away on a magic carpet. Fairbanks stole some of the special effects for his film from Fritz Lang's Der Müde Tod, which he had purchased for American distribution. The Thief of Baghdad, with its look of unrealistic beauty (courtesy of art director William Cameron Menzies), was not fully appreciated in its day. Because of its huge cost (two million dollars -- a real fortune in those days), it made little money. After that, Fairbanks stuck closer to the swashbuckling persona he felt his audience wanted.
Douglas Fairbanks spared no expense for what may be the most lavish fantasy movie ever made. Inspired by the flying-carpet effects of Fritz Lang's somber but spectacular Der Müde Tod, Fairbanks (ever the canny businessman) bought the American rights, then hid the film away as he created his own show-stopping adventure, an adaptation of A Thousand and One Nights in which the magic-carpet ride was but one of many fantastic marvels. Swaggering through massive marketplace sets and cavernous throne rooms as an incorrigible thief and pickpocket, he scales towering walls (with the help of a magic rope) and leads a merry chase through crowded bazaars in his pursuit of loot--until he falls in love with the beautiful princess and vows to win her heart. This jaunty opening is but mere preamble to the spectacular second act. As three kings scour the globe to retrieve the rarest treasures known to man, the repentant thief embarks on an odyssey through caverns of fire and underwater caves. The marvelous special effects--from the smoke-belching dragon and underwater spider to the flying horse and magic armies arising from the dust--may show their seams but glow with a timeless sense of wonder. William Cameron Menzies's magnificent sets appear to have leapt from the pages of a storybook. As the adventure concludes in a torrent of movie magic that cascades nonstop through the breathless final hour, Fairbanks commands the screen with a hearty laugh and graceful athleticism, the cinema's first action hero triumphant. Kino's restored edition is tinted and features an organ score by Gaylord Carter.Excerpt from Sean Axmaker at Amazon located HERE
THE THIEF OF BAGDAD separates rather neatly into two sections. The
first, a Scheherazadian romance, will appeal to adult viewers. The
second--a classic storybook odyssey which takes the thief through the
Valley of Fire, the Valley of the Monsters, the Cavern of the Enchanted
Trees, the Abode of the Winged Horse, and the Citadel of the Moon--will
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Thief of Bagdad (1924) looks marvelous on Blu-ray from the Cohen Media Group. This is described as "...newly restored from two 35mm negatives and incorporating the color tints and tones of the original release prints". I imagine while watching that it probably looked quite similar to this theatrically almost 90 years ago. This restoration is housed on a dual-layered disc for the 2.5 hour film. It is 1080P and seems to adhere to the film's original textures. Hopefully the captures will give you a good idea of the presentation appearance. I was very pleased with how it looked in-motion.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio come in two lossless flavors - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 bump at 2232 kbps and a less robust linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 2304 kbps. Both sounded wonderful and are described as "Carl Davis conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra, performing a magnificent score that intermingles Davis' own music with the iconic Orientalia of Rimsky-Korsakov". Brilliant. I preferred the LPCM and watched mostly with that although the DTS-HD Master carried some formidable depth, intensity and, obviously, separation. It is nice to have the option. The intertitles are original (see sample below) and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE.
Supplements include a detailed audio commentary by Fairbanks biographer Jeffrey Vance. It includes historical detail and context to further appreciate the breadth of the production and Fairbanks as a performer. There is also an 18-minute featurette entitled Fairbanks and Fantasy which includes rare behind-the-scenes photographs. Lastly is the impressive 2012 Restoration trailer.
February 15th, 2013
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS