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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK Mr Pastry Time's Avatar
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    The Edge of the World 1937 on Blu-ray.



    I originally got to know about this film in the mid 1970’s when developing an interest in the vintage home movie film gauge 9.5mm introduced by Pathe in 1922 and subsequently started to collect commercially printed films on the gauge. The Edge of the World was issued by Pathescope (the UK arm of Pathe) on 9.5mm optical sound film just before the war in 1939 and was one of its premiere releases although the timing was bad. In nine five circles around the 70’s locating sound films was something of a task in itself let alone a machine to project them on but eventually I obtained a machine and later this much sought after sound film enabling projection at home. In the Pathescope film catalogue they described it as “A grand drama is brought to light in a truly great British picture? so how could I not have wanted to hunt this one down..



    Fast forward to 2010 and my first black and white Blu-ray purchase just had to be EOTW. Now I am not the greatest fan of the BFI but for once I will take my hat off to them for a delightful release packed with some nice additional extras you will probably never see again elsewhere in such fine condition. But first we have the film from 1937 noted to be the first independent production by British director Michael Powell. Presented in the correct screen ratio and 75 minutes long it is a nice restoration of the film with expected high quality 1080p images, but it’s worth remembering this is a 1937 film and not the latest block buster. Sound is good from what would have been a quickie film in ’37 and the extras are most welcome with offerings such as: Michael Powell Home Movies, Original trailer, 24 min Michael Powell documentary “Return to the Edge of the World?, 16 minute travelogue on St Kilda and alternated scenes. Quite something..



    The story revolves around a skipper landing on Hirta the Hebridean Island of his birth. He is overcome by memories of a time before evacuation, love story and rivalry all follow along with of course survival against the elements and modernity. The film draws you into it more and more as you watch it and I would recommend it totally.



    The box of tricks also includes a nice booklet about the film and Michael Powell which is quite an insight in itself, also including a copy of the press book cover which is a nice touch. All in all a nice collectable and entertaining Blu-ray which could hopefully herald the dawn of the BFI digging out more of this type of film from its bulging archive. For once I take my hat off to you for a superb effort and a worthy entry on Blu-ray.

    Photo: Blu-ray-Pathescope film cat-9.5mm optical sound film Edge of the world issued 1939





    £12.93 Amazon

    £19.99 BFI

    Also available on DVD

  2. #2
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Far from it for me to denigrate any release of a Powell and/or Pressburger film on any medium, but it seems that the only thing that is on this that wasn't on the BFI DVD is the "Fully illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essay by Professor Ian Christie, reviews and notes on the film."



    How about the film itself? Is the quality of the film any better, or any different on Blu-Ray to that on the DVD?



    BTW not all British films made in the 1930s were quota films and this one isn't a quota film and it certainly wasn't a quickie. They were working on location on the island for many months and were marooned there when the storms were too fierce for the boat to take them off. There was no air service there in 1936/37





    There was also an American release on DVD. That had Powell's short propaganda piece An Airman's Letter to His Mother rather than the travelogue St. Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle (1928)



    Steve

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK Mr Pastry Time's Avatar
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    Hi Steve

    Erm.. Blu-ray issued and back of box do say 1080p 24fps so my guess would be better than any DVD issue technically. Sorry I do not have the DVD to compare on screen..

    The high def transfer is very nice although much may be lost on the DVD, but with Thelma Schoonmaker sorting the grading its worth going the extra mile for the Blu-ray. I should also mention the Blu-ray has optional hard of hearing subtitles. The book has 28 sides to it with some great info from Ian Christie and more.

    If you are a lover of older British classics and would like to squeeze every ounce from your HD panel I would most certainly go for the Blu-ray above the DVD.



    Happy days!

  4. #4
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='Mr Pastry Time' timestamp='1286975269' post='482239']

    Hi Steve

    Erm.. Blu-ray issued and back of box do say 1080p 24fps so my guess would be better than any DVD issue technically. Sorry I do not have the DVD to compare on screen..
    But is it any better on screen?

    Did they go back to the 35mm print and make a new transfer for the Blu-Ray or did they just take the one they did a few years previously for the DVD and pad it out a bit (automatically) to fill the 1080p size? I suspect the latter in which case there will be no difference on screen.



    The high def transfer is very nice although much may be lost on the DVD, but with Thelma Schoonmaker sorting the grading its worth going the extra mile for the Blu-ray.
    Thelma did the work for the DVD release - which also makes me suspect that the Blu-Ray version is just an automated "upgrade" from that



    I should also mention the Blu-ray has optional hard of hearing subtitles.
    So does the DVD. All the extras are the ones they did for the DVD with the exception of Ian's new essay in the booklet



    The book has 28 sides to it with some great info from Ian Christie and more.

    If you are a lover of older British classics and would like to squeeze every ounce from your HD panel I would most certainly go for the Blu-ray above the DVD.



    Happy days!
    I'm still of the opinion that except for the rare cases where releases are made specifically for Blu-Ray then the ones that are just automated upgrades from a DVD print don't actually add anything. They're no worse than the DVD and if you have a Blu-Ray player then you may as well get that version. But it's not worth getting a Blu-Ray player just for the automated upgrades. Blu-Ray & so-called "HD TV" is really only a minor upgrade from the existing technology. There's a much more significant upgrade only a few years away. I'll probably wait for that.



    The DVD of this film was, as you mentioned above, supervised by Thelma Schoonmaker, Powell's widow and Scorsese's multiple Oscar winning editor. It's about as high a quality as any home digital version can be.



    Steve

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: UK Mr Pastry Time's Avatar
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    Yup, they used the 35mm negative for the 2010 issue on Blu-ray. Unless the BFI are pulling a fast one with this issue I will believe what it says on the box.

    If there was one thing I would have liked to see on the disc would have been the old 9.5mm issue, similar was done with The Wrecker.

  6. #6
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='Mr Pastry Time' timestamp='1286984210' post='482285']

    Yup, they used the 35mm negative for the 2010 issue on Blu-ray. Unless the BFI are pulling a fast one with this issue I will believe what it says on the box.

    If there was one thing I would have liked to see on the disc would have been the old 9.5mm issue, similar was done with The Wrecker.
    "they used the 35mm negative for the 2010 issue on Blu-ray" - yes, via the print they did for the DVD

    If Thelma had done another, different print for the Blu-ray she would have mentioned it in one of our many conversations



    Steve

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: UK Mr Pastry Time's Avatar
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    Thats right, from the 35mm Neg and the new master would have been down graded for the lower res DVD.

    Confused dot com..

  8. #8
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='Mr Pastry Time' timestamp='1286992766' post='482344']

    Thats right, from the 35mm Neg and the new master would have been down graded for the lower res DVD.

    Confused dot com..
    Yes dear. If that's the thought that keeps you happy, you stick to it



    Steve

  9. #9
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    An interesting, if somewhat confusing thread this. On the one-hand, we have subjective opinion (which is great) re. the BFI. For me, however, the work they've been doing in recent years unearthing some fine and rare British films and making them available for the first time ever on home video (Bed Sitting Room, The Party's Over, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, The Pleasure Girls, etc., etc.) as well as their many fascinating British documentary collections (British Transport Films, GPO, COI, NCB, etc., etc.) make them an absolute favourite DVD/Blu-ray company. But, as I say, the question of whether one 'rates' the BFI or not is entirely subjective, and we're all welcome to our opinions.



    The question of the quality of Blu-ray presentations (when done right) is not, however, a subjective matter. It's not about what one 'wants to believe'. It's about the fact that the high resolution image which a Blu-ray disc can deliver is far superior to that of any DVD. A DVD can hold up to 9GB of data, while a Blu-ray can store up to 50GB of data. In cold, hard terms, this makes it more than 5 times better.



    A DVD can be made from a digibeta master (the tape format which, some 5+ years ago, was broadcast standard, but is now fast becoming obsolete). The inferior digibeta tape format simply cannot be used for Blu-ray production, since it just doesn't contain enough information for Blu-ray presentations.



    Even if a DVD was produced using an HD master as its source, the HD tape would first have to be 'down-converted' to digi in order to be used for encoding.



    In the case of TEOTW, even if the same original master (first used for the DVD) was used for the HD encode it would look vastly superior, provided the original telecine transfer was done correctly. However, since the BFI worked closely with Thelma Schoonmaker on the production of its recent TEOTQW Blu-ray, including inviting her to the UK to make some subtle changes to the film (including inserting shots that were not in the BFI's previous DVD edition (and therefore its previous master), it is - unless we still consider facts to be open to subjective interpretation - quite clear that a newly created HD master was, in fact, created for this released.



    But, as I say, even if that weren't the case, and even if the same master were actually used for both DVD and Blu-ray (this is, after all, what Disney do when they release titles on DVD and Blu-ray!), the fact that it has now been treated to a higher-definition encode, and is stored on a higher-capacity disc capable of displaying detail previously lost to compression, mean that it would look far superior in any case.



    To say otherwise is like saying that mp3s sound just like their original vinyl counterparts simply because they are taken from the same analogue or digital source master. It's simply not true.

  10. #10
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='Liger' timestamp='1286999293' post='482406']

    In the case of TEOTW, even if the same original master (first used for the DVD) was used for the HD encode it would look vastly superior, provided the original telecine transfer was done correctly. However, since the BFI worked closely with Thelma Schoonmaker on the production of its recent TEOTQW Blu-ray, including inviting her to the UK to make some subtle changes to the film (including inserting shots that were not in the BFI's previous DVD edition (and therefore its previous master), it is - unless we still consider facts to be open to subjective interpretation - quite clear that a newly created HD master was, in fact, created for this released.
    That's what I was asking. Did they make the Blu-Ray from the same master as they used for the DVD. Or did they just upscale the DVD? Did Thelma do some additional work for the Blu-Ray? I'll be seeing her again soon so I'll ask her then.



    Remember that when they released the DVD (in 2004) there wasn't any HD TV or Blu-Ray worth speaking of so it's unlikely that they would have made an HD version at the same time.



    Just because a Blu-Ray can hold more data doesn't always make it better. The quality of that data should be taken into account as well



    Steve

  11. #11
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    name='Steve Crook' timestamp='1287002146' post='482419']

    Just because a Blu-Ray can hold more data doesn't always make it better. The quality of that data should be taken into account as well


    Of course, this is absolutely true, but no video distributor with a conscience would ever consider using anything other than an HD transfer as the basis for a Blu-ray release. (There are rumours that some early Blu-rays were 'up-scaled' from digibeta masters, but since it's so easy to tell when and if this is the case - digibeta is so evidently inferior to HD that it's baffling to think that it was ever a professional industry standard - it soon became apparent that it was not going to be possible to pull the wool over viewers' eyes!)



    I take it from what you've written in this thread, Steve, that you haven't bought this Blu-ray, in which case there's no reason to assume that you've been able to read the accompanying booklet. If you had done so, though, you'd know (from the 'About the transfer' page) that it states that the film was "transferred to High Definition from the original nitrate 35mm negative and acetate finegrain elements". Not only that, thought, but it also states that each and every single extra on the release is also newly transferred to HD ('St Kilda' from a 35mm finegrain positive; 'Return to TEOTW' from a 16mm combined print'; home movies from 16mm Kodachrome positive). I'm sure that the BFI wouldn't make all of this up if it weren't true!



    So, not only does the film itself look and sound like never before, but so too do all of the extras (including, I should add, those not previously included on the original DVD; the trailer, the alternate titles and deleted mute scenes).



    Sorry to go on - and I really don't mean to be too forceful on this matter - but it does bother me a great deal that people speak out against Blu-ray so readily (and with such an apparent lack of direct experience of it) when such amazing work is going on out there to bring incredibly eclectic and, presumably, uncommercial editions to the market. Labels like BFI (with Blu-ray editions as diverse as their Jeff Keen set, which includes a variety of film gauges (from Super-8 to 16mm), Winstanley, Loving Memory, Nighthawks, Salo, etc.), Masters of Cinema (with silent films such as Sunrise, M and City Girl, as well as their amazing edition of Paranoiac), and Arrow (have you seen their release of Dario Argento's Inferno?!) have demonstrated time and again that Blu-ray isn't a medium which can only be used to deliver new films, which have been shot digitally, but which can actually breath new life into films from the history of cinema in a way you'd never have believed possible.



    Film is so much better served by Blu-ray than it ever was or could have been by DVD, no matter when it was made, and no matter on what film gauge it was shot (standard 8mm being the only exception - it's a lower-res than HD). It's simply a matter of being able to show you, in greater definition than ever before, what appears on each and every frame of a film. And, even better still, Blu-ray is capable of reproducing film, progressively, at correct film speed (i.e., 24 frames per second), which means that the days of 4% PAL speed-up are now a thing of the past for UK and Eurpean viewers.



    Anyway, enough said. I for one would dearly love to hear about Thelma Schoonmaker's experience of working with the BFI on this Blu-ray release. And, without wanting you to break any confidences, it'd be great if you could post some of her thoughts and comments. If you can: thanks in advance.

  12. #12
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='Liger' timestamp='1287011212' post='482432']

    I take it from what you've written in this thread, Steve, that you haven't bought this Blu-ray, in which case there's no reason to assume that you've been able to read the accompanying booklet. If you had done so, though, you'd know (from the 'About the transfer' page) that it states that the film was "transferred to High Definition from the original nitrate 35mm negative and acetate finegrain elements".
    Thanks, that's what I was asking from the beginning



    Anyway, enough said. I for one would dearly love to hear about Thelma Schoonmaker's experience of working with the BFI on this Blu-ray release. And, without wanting you to break any confidences, it'd be great if you could post some of her thoughts and comments. If you can: thanks in advance.
    Well I'll certainly ask her when I next see her, which should be in a week or so. She mentions quite a bit about the film in the commentary (unless she & Ian have done a new version of that as well )



    I know that generally she holds them in high regard as they do her. She's well aware of the problems that they have but is full of praise for the work that they do despite those problems. I remember that in one of our chats I mentioned some grumble about the BFI and she quickly pulled me up on it.



    Steve

  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: UK Mr Pastry Time's Avatar
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    Might have been quicker to use your BFI contact Steve in the first place old bean. Mine was just an enthusiastic user review at home as a lover of this old film and not a tech report on the authoring process itself.

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    Although Liger has already pretty much settled the matter, I'm happy to confirm that the source for the 2010 Blu-ray edition of The Edge of the World is indeed from a brand new high-definition transfer that was created specifically for this release. As its technical supervisor James White commented:



    Although the master used for the BFI DVD was pretty good for the time, the master we've created for the new Blu- ray release is brand new and a significant leap forward over all previously available versions. As well as being remastered in 1080p, the master was made using the original 35mm nitrate negative and safety fine grain materials, all preserved by the BFI National Archive.


    These framegrabs from DVD Beaver make the difference clear - although even they don't tell the full story, as the Blu-ray in motion does a far better job of reproducing the original grain structure. Although the images are still digital, they "feel" like film in a way that the DVD is technically incapable of coming near.



    The extras have also been remastered in full high-definition from film source materials, and also look significantly better than they do on the DVD.



    A couple of other, more general, points:



    1. Many DVD releases these days are downconverted from HD masters, including most recent BFI titles. As a result, even if the specifications are otherwise identical between the Blu-ray and the DVD, the Blu-ray will still look significantly better, even if the master has been around for some time. For instance, the BFI's Yasujiro Ozu Blu-rays were sourced from Criterion's HD masters, even though Criterion themselves have only (so far) put them out in NTSC DVD.



    2. There is no question of the BFI upscaling a standard-definition telecine and passing it off as a genuine 1080p transfer. If the source was standard-definition video (for instance, the supporting feature on Nighthawks, Strip Jack Naked, originally shot and mastered on SD video), this is made clear in the booklet.



    Michael Brooke

    Screenonline Curator, BFI National Archive

  15. #15
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Thanks Michael



    Steve

  16. #16
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    Take the Blu Ray plunge, Steve.

  17. #17
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='JamesM' timestamp='1287520412' post='484333']

    Take the Blu Ray plunge, Steve.
    Nah, I don't think so. I don't like intermediate versions of things that are going to be replaced by something a lot better in a few years. I've seen quite a lot on Blu-Ray and compared it to the same source material on "Low-Def TV". There's not enough of a difference to make me say "Wow". It's only a fractional improvement over "LDTV"



    Steve

  18. #18
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    I can perhaps understand choosing to wait. The next upgrade will be the last significant one so you would not have to worry about the format going out of date. HD is roughly 16mm quality so the next upgrade will probably be 35mm standard. I don't think there would be too much demand for home entertainment equipment that can match 70mm quality to make such equipment affordable.

  19. #19
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    To say HD is equal to 16mm is a terrible statement 'JamesM'! What are you watching HD on???? HD/Blue Ray and High Definition Quality is far superior to 16mm. I project onto a 12 ft screen with a full HD Panasonic 4000 Projector...the results are equal to my 35mm Philips output. The 35mm Philips has a xenon lamp and Zeiss Lenses. I also have a 16mm Xenon Philips projector and nothing on 16mm...even new film on the latest stocks...can come anywhere near the Blue/Ray and HD pictures. Justify that statement 'JamesM' please!

    Film Man

  20. #20
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    name='Film Man' timestamp='1287656761' post='484782']

    To say HD is equal to 16mm is a terrible statement 'JamesM'! What are you watching HD on???? HD/Blue Ray and High Definition Quality is far superior to 16mm. I project onto a 12 ft screen with a full HD Panasonic 4000 Projector...the results are equal to my 35mm Philips output. The 35mm Philips has a xenon lamp and Zeiss Lenses. I also have a 16mm Xenon Philips projector and nothing on 16mm...even new film on the latest stocks...can come anywhere near the Blue/Ray and HD pictures. Justify that statement 'JamesM' please!

    Film Man


    I'm talking about the quality of images caught on 16mm and 35mm film. HD will only bring out the full quality of 16mm and not 35mm. Only 4k digital equipment will be capable of displaying 35mm (films shot in 35mm).



    You are projecting processed film which I understand, can suffer loss from the quality of the original negative.



    For Steve, it is worth waiting for the next step (Ultra High Definition) as he will never need to upgrade again as no upgrade beyond that will bring any further improvement to the image of any Powell or Pressburger film. Enthusiasts of 70mm might look forward to the step beyond Ultra high definition.



    Does my statement still sound terrible to you?

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