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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Sherlock Holmes [Blu-ray]

 

(Arthur Berthelet, 1916)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company

Video: Flicker Alley

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:56:49.544  

Disc Size: 49,133,522,028 bytes

Feature Size: 21,043,120,128 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.99 Mbps

Chapters: 28

Case: Thick Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: November 10th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3706 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3706 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
 

 

Subtitles:

English OR French intertitles

 

Extras:

From Lost to Found: Restoring William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes Presented by film restorer Robert Byrne at the 2015 San Francisco Silent Film Festival (23:46)
Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900 - 0:47): Courtesy of the Library of Congress and presented in HD, this is the earliest known film to feature the character of Sherlock Holmes.
A Canine Sherlock (1912 - 15:05): From the EYE Film Institute, the film stars Spot the Dog as the titular character.
Più forte che Sherlock Holmes (1913 - 6:31): Also from the EYE Film Institute, this entertaining Italian trick-film owes as much to Méliès as it does Doyle.
HD transfers from the Fox Movietone Collection: Interview with Arthur Conan Doyle and outtakes from a 1930 newsreel with William Gillette showing off his amateur railroad (Sherlock Holmes Turns Engineer (1930 - 5:50) (11:40)

Promotional Photograph Gallery (6 images 0:32)

Lobby cards and Flyer Gallery (10 images 1:02)
A PDF typescript of the 1899 Sherlock Holmes play by William Gillette.
A PDF of the original contract between William Gillette and the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company.
A booklet featuring images from the film and information about the restoration project

Two DVDs of the feature presentation + extras

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: In commemoration of the 99th anniversary of the film s original release, Flicker Alley along with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and La Cinémathèque française is proud to present the Blu-ray/DVD premiere of one of the holy grails of lost films: William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes.

Long considered lost until a complete dupe negative was identified in the vaults of la Cinémathèque française last year, this William Gillette film is a vital missing link in the history of Sherlock Holmes on screen. By the time it was produced at Essanay Studios in 1916, Gillette had been established as the world s foremost interpreter of Holmes on stage having played him approximately 1300 times since his 1899 debut. This newly-restored edition, thanks to the monumental efforts of both the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and la Cinémathèque française, represents the sole surviving appearance of Gillette s Holmes on film. Presented with optional French and English intertitles and an original score composed and performed by Neil Brand, Guenter Buchwald, and Frank Bockius, Flicker Alley is honored to bring Sherlock Holmes onto Blu-ray and DVD for the first time ever.

The film faithfully retains the play s famous set pieces Holmes's encounter with Professor Moriarty, his daring escape from the Stepney Gas Chamber, and the tour-de-force deductions. It also illustrates how Gillette, who wrote the adaptation himself, wove bits from Conan Doyle's stories ranging from A Scandal in Bohemia to The Final Problem, into an original, innovative mystery play.

 

 

The Film:

SCREENED AT THE 2015 SAN FRANCISCO SILENT FILM FESTIVAL: Last October's announcement that a complete nitrate negative of a Sherlock Holmes film starring William Gillette made in 1916 had been found in the Cinemathèque Française may not have had quite the same impact on the film world as, say, a similar announcement about Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" a few years prior, but it's still a big deal to film-lovers in general. For fans of the character, it's mind-blowing; many pieces of imagery associated with Holmes have always been said to come as much from Gillette's much-revived 1899 play as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, but for many decades, we've had to take the scholars' word for it. Now it can be up on the screen in tinted black-and-white for the first time in nearly a century, and generations of fans should be pleased.

It follows the stage production closely, introducing Alice Faulkner (Marjorie Kay), whose sister has recently died leaving her in possession of correspondence that could undermine the Grand Duke of a small European country, and when she refuses to hand it over, a pair of nearby grifters (Mario Majeroni & Grace Reals) see an opportunity. Once they hear that the government has hired Sherlock Holmes (Gillette) to retrieve the letters, they join forces with James Moriarty (Ernest Maupain), a master criminal intent on both blackmailing the Duke and having his revenge on Holmes.

Excerpt from JaySeaverateFilmCriric located HERE

It is an inestimable loss to pop-culture history that the first American feature-length film based on Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is no longer in existence. Particularly frustrating is the fact that 1916's Sherlock Holmes was a literal adaptation of William Gillette's famous stage play, with Gillette himself in the leading role. Departing somewhat from the Doyle "canon," the film (like the play) ends with Holmes marrying heroine Alice Faulkner (here inexplicably rechristened Mary Faulkner) after rescuing her from a complicated conspiracy to rob her of important diplomatic papers. Undoubtedly the highlight of the film was Holmes' confrontation with arch-villain Professor Moriarty (Ernest Maupin), a sequence that never fails to induce loud and sustained applause when presented on stage. Produced by Essanay, Sherlock Holmes was remade by Goldwyn in 1922, with John Barrymore as the Great Detective; fortunately, the Barrymore version has been preserved more or less intact, thanks to the diligence of movie historian Kevin Brownlow.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

 

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

Sherlock Holmes needs no introduction and this 1916 Silent version is miraculous to still be in existence - and now fans can obtain it on stellar Blu-ray from Flicker Alley. It's appearance is largely, as expected, due to the restoration and the condition of the sources. It looks fairly consistent. The screen captures below should give you a rough idea of the presentation. I thought it was very impressive - we are talking about something made literally 100 years ago! I think most will be very appreciative of the visuals. I have given three samples of the text/intertitles.

 

Further background:

 

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

 

Sample Text screen/intertitles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Going all-out with the presentation, Flicker Alley utilize a new DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a whopping 3706 kbps (24-bit) to export the original piano-based, with violin etc., score composed and performed by Neil Brand, Guenter Buchwald, and Frank Bockius sounding superb in the uncompressed rendering. Not much in the way of separation but crisp and very deep - scintillating piano. My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

As usual Flicker Alley add significant value with interesting and extensive supplements. From Lost to Found: Restoring William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes is 24-minutes long presented by film restorer Robert Byrne at the 2015 San Francisco Silent Film Festival explaining and detailing the process to bring Sherlock Holmes to it's restored condition. Sherlock Holmes Baffled is a very short clip made in 1900 - courtesy of the Library of Congress and presented in HD, this is the earliest known film to feature the character of Sherlock Holmes. A Canine Sherlock was made in 1912 and runs 15-minutes. It is from the EYE Film Institute, and the film stars Spot the Dog as the titular character. Più forte che Sherlock Holmes runs 6.5 minutes and is from 1913 - also from the EYE Film Institute; this entertaining Italian trick-film owes as much to Méliès as it does Doyle. Included are HD transfers from the Fox Movietone Collection of an Interview with Arthur Conan Doyle and outtakes from a 1930 newsreel with William Gillette showing off his amateur railroad entitled Sherlock Holmes Turns Engineer. There is a 'Promotional Photograph Gallery' with 6 images and a 'Lobby cards and Flyer Gallery' with 10 images. From the root of the disc(s), via a PC, you can access a PDF typescript of the 1899 Sherlock Holmes play by William Gillette and a PDF of the original contract between William Gillette and the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. The package contains a 20-page booklet featuring images from the film and information about the restoration project and two DVDs of the feature presentation + extras.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed this 4-epsiode Sherlock Holmes on Blu-ray. Doyle fans will appreciate the authenticity and Silent Era aficionados will be right in their element. There really is nothing like turning down the lights and turning on the time machine to settle in and watch as others did a century ago. My goodness! What a triumph for Flicker Alley! I was getting very anxious to see each subsequent part! We give this a VERY strong recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

November 6th, 2015

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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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