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Westfront 1918 + Kameradschaft (Two films by G.W Pabst) [Blu-ray]
(Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1930 + 1931)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Gaumont-Franco Film-Aubert (G.F.F.A)
Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #170-171
Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Westfront 1918 Runtime: 1:36:10.055
Kameradschaft Runtime: 1:29:42.543
Disc Size: 48,407,811,664 bytes
Westfront 1918 Feature Size: 23,656,701,312 bytes
Kameradschaft Feature Size: 22,091,828,928 bytes
Video Bitrate: 28.99 Mbps
Chapters: 10 + 10
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: July 24th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 1.19:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio German 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
For Kameradschaft the option of English for both German + French, English just for German or English just for French, none
• Westfront 1918, an introduction by film scholar and author
Jan-Christopher Horak (17:57)
Description:Georg Wilhelm Pabst (Pandora’s Box, Diary of a Lost Girl) made a flawless transition from silent to sound filmmaking with, Westfront 1918 and Kameradschaft, a pair of strongly anti-war titles (Pabst himself was a prisoner of war for the duration of WWI) that combined elements of Expressionism and New Objectivity to stunning effect.
In Westfront 1918, four infantrymen on the Western Front suffer the everyday hardships and insanity of trench warfare, and in Kameradschaft, a team of German miners risk their lives to rescue a team of French miners left trapped after an underground explosion.
Sharing many thematic elements, as well as key cast and crew (most notably cinematographer Fritz Arno Wagner, M, Nosferatu, Der müde Tod), Westfront 1918 and Kameradschaft represents a master director at the height of his powers, and The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present both these titles for the first time ever on Blu-ray in a special Dual Format edition.
Pabst's first talkie offered a grim, humanitarian perspective on trench warfare, not unlike that in the almost contemporary All Quiet on the Western Front. Hardly any film since has given such an unremittingly horrific picture of warfare-in-action, from the agonising lulls to the surprise attacks, from harsh resilience to the release of madness or a death wish. The point is ultimately a simple pacifism, with all the political limitations that implies. But Pabst's brilliant tracking shots along the trenches, through ruins, and across no man's land, remain more haunting than anything in 'expressionist' cinema.
The absolute high-point of German socialist film-making of its period. Pabst imagines a coal-mine on the French-German border, where the aftermath of World War I is still being played out: French prosperity and chauvinism hard up against German inflation and unemployment. There's a disaster in the French wing of the mine...and the German miners go to the rescue. Both the visual style and the 'message' of solidarity owe a lot to Soviet Socialist Realism, but Pabst was a more sophisticated social critic than any of the Russian film-makers. Only a bruised and cynical Berlin pessimist could produce a film as moving, sincere and committed as this.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Georg Wilhelm Pabst's Westfront 1918 was premièred in Berlin on May 23rd, 1930, at the capitol Cinema. The original camera negative has been lost. This restoration was based on a master positive from the BFI National Archive Collection. Missing scenes were re-inserted using a duplicate negative from Praesens-Film, and the restoration is by Deutsche Kinemathek in cooperation with the BFI National Archive, with digital 2K processing by Alpha-Omega, Munich. The 1080P Blu-ray transfer has a high bitrate and looks great - plenty of wonderful grain, good contrast layering and occasionally surprising detail.
Kameradschaft's premieres took place in Berlin on November 17th, 1931. The film was based on the historic Courrieres mining disaster on March 10th, 1906, when over 1,200 miners were buried alive. Art the time German miners rushed to the aid of their French comrades. Pabst dedicated his film, whihc updated the setting to the present day, to these German miners. The German version's original negative, opening credits and ending have not survived. The original negative of a slightly divergent French version, La Tragedie de la Mine, is preserved in the archive at the CNC. The reconstruction of the German version is based on a dupe positive from the BFI National Archive. The CNC negative was used for the ending of the film, which was missing from the BFI footage. Unfortunately, this doesn't looks as good in the Blu-ray transfer. Certainly a function of the varied, and lesser, sources - the visuals are heavy and waxy and grain is less apparent than in Westfront 1918. The Kameradschaft image is unnaturally hazy and soft but is fairly consistent. This may be the best we get of this masterpiece.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio, for both films, is transferred via a linear PCM 1.0 channel track (24-bit) in the original German. The audio has the predictable deficiencies inherent in the era's production limitations. It was, however, clear and there are optional English subtitles provided. For Kameradschaft the option of English for both German + French, or English just for the German or English just for French,is provided as well as 'none'. My Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Masters of Cinema include an introduction by film scholar, and author of Dream Merchants: Making and Selling Films in Hollywood's Golden Age, Jan-Christopher Horak - running, for both film, running, in total, over 1/2 hour. He provides excellent information and background for viewing both Pabst's films. The package also contains a booklet featuring a new essay by Philip Kemp, alongside rare archival plus a second disc DVD.
July 14th, 2017
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 3500 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
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find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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