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PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2017 5:27 pm 
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solaris72 wrote:
Am I the only barbarian here who actually likes watching it with Voices of Light?
Add me to that list, and I've been waiting for this Criterion upgrade expressly for that reason.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2017 7:40 pm 
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There seems to be a considerable hubris involved in taking a through-composed oratorio, especially one of such thundering, stupefying intensity, and then plastering it over the widely-acknowledged masterpiece of film that ostensibly inspired it (and one whose author repeatedly suggested it be watched in silence, no less). The oratorio is so indifferent to the rhythms and emotional contours of the film, and so ceaselessly aggressive that it's almost as though the film is accompanying the score (badly).

In some cases where I've gone to hear someone score a silent film, the incompetence of the accompaniment can be chalked up to ignorance: not every musician has a deep appreciation for silent film, not just its formal qualities but the mores and sensibilities it often showcases. I don't think Einhorn has that excuse, or at least he didn't by the time his score became the "default" for Passion—so I think we have to chalk it up to bad taste and/or vanity.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2017 2:06 am 
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whaleallright wrote:
(and one whose author repeatedly suggested it be watched in silence, no less)

Got a source for that? I'm not sure Dreyer repeatedly said that so much as it's been repeatedly repeated. Closest I can find is that he hadn't found a score that he thoroughly approved of.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:26 am 
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I’ve done it both ways (and now with the Blu-ray, I’ll have more options). I really like it with Voices of Light because it accentuates the inherent spiritual atmosphere as it is much more about spiritual matters than physical matters (yes, it ends in a death).

I don’t see hubris in Einhorn composing this oratorio as “I’m going to make the best score for this silent film”. This was a case where he was deeply moved by the film and wanted to make music from it and from there it became music that could also work as a score (the album is shorter than the film’s runtime and thus can be heard as separate music in its own right).

Furthermore, I have a suspicion that the reason why Dreyer never chose a score at the time was the typical music sensibilities wouldn’t have worked. After all, the typical scores used employed either popular songs or current classic tradition, which was predominantly Romantic. While I remember hearing he was upset with the Lo Duca version and I believe he did take issue with the Baroque score used (amongst many other issues), I really think it was a case where perhaps there had to be someone who could approach the film on its wavelength and use that as the basis of music.

The smart move for Einhorn’s music was it used the text of the time as well as the musical sensibilities of the time (Jeanne’s time obviously) and this is why I think it works as a score for it. Again, this is a film that dared to go deep into the spiritual realm unlike other films before it.

But, in the end, it is personal preference and as long as a choice is always available (and it is: no one should ever force you to watch something one way or one way only ... looking at you, Jorge), it shouldn’t be viewed as an either/or with one choice being the “right one”.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:09 pm 
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Personally, I enjoy the Mie Yanashita score, which plays over the 20fps version on the MoC edition. It's a rather minimalist score that is serviceable as accompaniment without being intrusive. I personally have a hard time watching movies in complete silence (my mind starts to wander a bit, plus outward noises become more distracting). I'm very glad Criterion is porting this score over. As for "Voices of Light," I like the music itself and even own the CD. But I do agree that it does the film a disservice by clashing with the film's editing rhythm. But that's the beauty of choice. It's wonderful that the new Criterion edition will offer three musical selections, plus the option of complete silence, which of course is an option we have for every silent film on home video so long as we use the mute button!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:13 pm 
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djproject wrote:
I really like it with Voices of Light because it accentuates the inherent spiritual atmosphere


You could as easily argue, then, for watching the film while putting on a CD of Saint Matthew's Passion, or an Amy Grant album.... The fallacy (on the part of Einhorn among others) seems to be that a piece of music with a theme or subject matter that matches the film would necessarily be an appropriate musical accompaniment, regardless of the formal qualities of both. Versions of this fallacy abound in contemporary scores to silent films.

As for the "inherent spiritual atmosphere": one thing I like about Joan is that while it's about a woman who claims to have spoken with God, the film is very much about a woman of flesh and blood who is tormented by a group of older men. The Einhorn score seems to me to do violence to this by seeking to remind us, at the get-go and at every turn, of the "spiritual" significance of her plight. As a result it kind of steamrollers across the emotional nuances of the film.

Just to be clear, I don't object to Criterion's including this score! If they didn't, there'd be a lot of disappointed people. And of course every home-video version of the film offers you the choice to just turn the sound off. And I'm looking forward to hearing the Yamashita score.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:20 pm 
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I only use Amy Grant to score Michael


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:27 pm 
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Hey, I'm not knocking Amy Grant. Lead Me On is a good record. And if you play it backwards while watching The Wizard of Oz, you get a contact high.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:21 pm 

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whaleallright wrote:
djproject wrote:
I really like it with Voices of Light because it accentuates the inherent spiritual atmosphere


You could as easily argue, then, for watching the film while putting on a CD of Saint Matthew's Passion, or an Amy Grant album.... The fallacy (on the part of Einhorn among others) seems to be that a piece of music with a theme or subject matter that matches the film would necessarily be an appropriate musical accompaniment, regardless of the formal qualities of both. Versions of this fallacy abound in contemporary scores to silent films.

As for the "inherent spiritual atmosphere": one thing I like about Joan is that while it's about a woman who claims to have spoken with God, the film is very much about a woman of flesh and blood who is tormented by a group of older men. The Einhorn score seems to me to do violence to this by seeking to remind us, at the get-go and at every turn, of the "spiritual" significance of her plight. As a result it kind of steamrollers across the emotional nuances of the film.

Just to be clear, I don't object to Criterion's including this score! If they didn't, there'd be a lot of disappointed people. And of course every home-video version of the film offers you the choice to just turn the sound off. And I'm looking forward to hearing the Yamashita score.


I think this is about right... Watching the movie twice over the past month—once the new restoration with the Einhorn score, and once on film at 20fps with live piano accompaniment—it struck me this time around that Dreyer seems to think all of these people are fools, to some degree or other. The priests are cruel, heartless, dishonest fools and Joan's a naive, innocent (self-deceiving?) fool. Falconetti's Joan seems to stumble into her evasive answers by luck, almost divine inspiration, not thanks to a sharp wit and acute intelligence, and it's a wonder that this person could lead an army with any success and confidence. Dreyer's and our sympathies are with Joan, of course, and Dreyer still seems enamored of the possibility of faith, its forms, what it means, how it comes about and is maintained or lost, but these are people being unbearably cruel to another person, for all too human reasons. As you say, the Einhorn score pretty well rides roughshod over that subtlety. But agreed, I don't begrudge anyone's enjoyment of it—it gives a powerful draw to a film some people might not otherwise enjoy, by highlighting particular themes and ideas. They're just not the ones I find most interesting about it.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:03 am 
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The characters in Passion are not, I would say, fools- that would imply that they're being stupid, that there's an easy out to their problems that they're refusing to see. The priests are more or less as you describe them- though I think part of the horror of it is that they are also sincere, in their way- but I think Joan does and is intended to have a transcendent quality, something in her that allows her to retain her strength and sense of self despite all that is being done to her. She is also scared and hurt and a child- though surely not an innocent one in the normal way that would be applied to a child, as she is literally a seasoned soldier. But to assume that Dreyer's intended take here is that this is a comedy of nothingness, pointless cruelty to someone who is living for a delusion, I think lessens the movie badly, and does not fit with the other movies in this mode Dreyer made- the characters in Ordet are stupid, petty, weak, the Christ figure in it is apparently mentally ill and almost unbearable to be around, yet it is a movie in which an indisputable miracle happens. I think Joan exists in that mode, one in which the transcendental can pierce into the world of the recognizably human.

I love the Einhorn score, though I think the movie certainly also works without it- it pushes the movie in a particular direction, yes, and leads the viewer to a reading that I don't know one would reach without it, but I don't think it's an invalid reading, and the experience of watching the two together was overwhelming in a way that worked very well for me- the movie is still intense without it, but the sledgehammer quality of it is productive, pushing into a realm of sensual overload that makes watching the movie take you totally out of yourself (a feeling I also get from Ordet. Mute, the movie is more delicate, more human and less divine. I'm delighted that I have the means to choose which movie I'm going to watch, as I do with the Glass audio track on Beauty and the Beast.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:20 am 
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Blu-ray.com review


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:03 pm 

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The Passion of Joan of Arc is my favorite film, and I've waited for a blu-ray of this release ever since CC first hinted at it back in 2011. I've waited a long time. I will no doubt be buying it because I adore the Einhorn score. But sadly, I do not consider it definitive.

I do not understand, when MoC already undertook a 2K restoration from the same source, why Gaumont/CC opted to duplicate their work by doing ANOTHER 2K scan of the same source. This film warranted a 4K scan, and should've been off the first generation nitrate, which was struck from the negative and is the best thing possible short of having the o-neg or a first gen master interpos.

And I am frustrated that CC did not heed my messages about the vital importance of the Lo Duca version, which MoC wisely saw fit to include in its entirety. That cut is from entirely alternate takes, and is a priceless glimpse into Dreyer and Falconetti's creative process.

I discuss the differences here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGRY2SuzpI4&t=2s

I am pleased with the new color grading (the MoC was too low contrast for my taste), but in too many ways, this new upgrade repeats what MoC has already done, while neglecting its virtues (like the Lo Duca version).


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:32 pm 

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matrixschmatrix wrote:
The characters in Passion are not, I would say, fools- that would imply that they're being stupid, that there's an easy out to their problems that they're refusing to see. The priests are more or less as you describe them- though I think part of the horror of it is that they are also sincere, in their way- but I think Joan does and is intended to have a transcendent quality, something in her that allows her to retain her strength and sense of self despite all that is being done to her. She is also scared and hurt and a child- though surely not an innocent one in the normal way that would be applied to a child, as she is literally a seasoned soldier. But to assume that Dreyer's intended take here is that this is a comedy of nothingness, pointless cruelty to someone who is living for a delusion, I think lessens the movie badly, and does not fit with the other movies in this mode Dreyer made- the characters in Ordet are stupid, petty, weak, the Christ figure in it is apparently mentally ill and almost unbearable to be around, yet it is a movie in which an indisputable miracle happens. I think Joan exists in that mode, one in which the transcendental can pierce into the world of the recognizably human.

I love the Einhorn score, though I think the movie certainly also works without it- it pushes the movie in a particular direction, yes, and leads the viewer to a reading that I don't know one would reach without it, but I don't think it's an invalid reading, and the experience of watching the two together was overwhelming in a way that worked very well for me- the movie is still intense without it, but the sledgehammer quality of it is productive, pushing into a realm of sensual overload that makes watching the movie take you totally out of yourself (a feeling I also get from Ordet. Mute, the movie is more delicate, more human and less divine. I'm delighted that I have the means to choose which movie I'm going to watch, as I do with the Glass audio track on Beauty and the Beast.




You're right, "fools" is too strong a word. I don't think Dreyer thinks these people are only or purely foolish, and I don't think it's the only mode he's working with. But I do feel like it's one that is under-discussed. I’ve oscillated between fascination and befuddlement (however pleasant) with Dreyer for a long time, and I've as long been unable to articulate why. It was a bit of a revelation during these recent viewings that Dreyer's relationship to Joan is not necessarily one of unmitigated admiration, awe, and respect for her ability, as you say, "to retain her strength and sense of self despite all that is being done to her," a revelation that I expect was so delayed by the hushed reverence with which people talk about him, his films, and his characters, Joan especially, and which seems to be embodied by the Einhorn score. As an atheist who was raised in a devoutly religious family, and who still has an appreciation and fascination, though also a skepticism, for religion and faith, it's thrilling to sense that Dreyer is exploring the human foibles of (both sides of) the story, as well as that transcendence, and each thoroughly, unflinchingly, and in spite of the other. Which is to say, the film is open to the idea that Joan achieved some sort of transcendence in her death, but it also, I think, entertains at least the possibility that she was just as foolhardy in her commitment as the priests. And I don’t think either entirely negates the other. The former gets talked about, implicitly or directly, quite a bit; the latter doesn't. In other words, if Dreyer is fascinated by a passion that can perform miracles, as in Ordet, he's also aware that such passion in a different mode can make you foolish, as in the first half of Ordet.

So perhaps it was just repetition, or having seen several other Dreyer films in the interim, but having seen it, over the years, on DVD and Blu-Ray with various soundtracks (including silence), in theaters with the Einhorn score performed live and another time recorded, and now with a simple, unobtrusive piano accompaniment, the non-Einhorn presentations are where the film actually began to open up to me in a way that allowed for more subtlety and complexity.



But on to the Criterion disc. This is good to have confirmed: "Also, the 24fps version has French intertitles and can be viewed with optional English subtitles, while the 20fps version has original Danish intertitles and can be viewed with optional English subtitles." I'll be curious if the Danish intertitles are restored, recreated, or what... And it'd be nice to have it for sure confirmed that the 20fps version is in fact the fully restored version. At this point I'd be shocked if it isn't... but weirder choices have been made.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:06 pm 
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I agree with you insofar as I think the duality of Joan is key to the movie- it wouldn't work if she were an iconic saint throughout, and insofar as I think Dreyer has a special talent at infusing the real world with the divine, it comes of his honesty in depicting the characters as fully human, with human frailty. You're free to read the movie as seeing Joan's commitment as foolish, and I think that a foolishly committed Joan would not necessarily be out of step with what we see of her as a person.

That said- I've rewatched Häxan relatively recently, and the connections between the movies are striking, particularly in the long fictionalized section of Häxan in which an elderly woman is accused of being a witch and tortured for it. Christensen is pretty unambiguously looking at the scene as an atheist, or at least as someone who does not connect what is happening to the divine in any way, and the woman is not at all a saint, just an ordinary, tired, rather frail old woman put into a nightmare due solely to cruelty and xenophobia and ignorance. She does eventually give her torturers what they want, too, confessing in full and vindictively accusing her accusers of witchcraft in turn. However- there is a spark of the divine, or at least of something that is powerful and admirable, beyond the stupid ugliness of the surroundings and the torturers, in the dignity and humanity the old woman shows when they begin doing this to her. It's difficult to pinpoint, because it's not some noxious Passion of the Christ sense of grace achieved via torture- it's something about her confusion, and the moment before she breaks when she demands of her torturers to know how she can confess to something that is not true. It's not even God she's remaining faithful to, just sanity, decency, reason, something along those lines.

The scenes very clearly influenced Dreyer- I believe he said as much- and I think that even if you assume in the world of Joan that God does not exist, that her visions are dreams and she's talking to nobody, that her steadfastness remains remarkable and admirable because her torturers are wrong and are trying to make themselves correct by force. It's not Silence, where bearing up under this torture is a form of arrogance, because a secret truth held within is a more fitting and powerful one than one forthrightly proclaimed- Joan is a forcibly captured enemy, and to give in would be an act of true surrender. For me, trying to see the movie as one in which she should just do so and have done with it would be almost unbearable.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:59 pm 
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Beaver


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:40 pm 
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The intensity of the black and white is dramatic, so beautiful..

The MoC version looks faded in comparision


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:31 pm 
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Does anyone know whether Dreyer intended the film's blacks and whites to be so dramatically contrasting? I prefer the new look, and this is one film that is so visually incredible that in a way I wouldn't care what they did with the restoration unless it was upside down or something.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:33 pm 
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Did I read that right? There's "combing" on the 20fps?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:54 pm 
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That looks wonderful


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:11 pm 
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denti alligator wrote:
Did I read that right? There's "combing" on the 20fps?

I was surprised by that as well. I didn't think the 20fps presentation on the MoC disc had this problem, but perhaps I was mistaken?

The first time I saw this film, it was projected from a pristine 35mm print, and one thing that really stuck out was being able to see the pores of every face's skin very clearly in every single close-up, so I have to say this new transfer does reflect my memory (though that screening was over a decade ago and it's not as if I looked at the MoC presentation and thought "that's NOT what I remember!")


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:36 pm 
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Regarding the combing, I think we need more clarification on the technical specs of the Criterion versus the MoC 20fps versions. If Criterion's 20fps version is progressive, how can it have combing? If it is actually interlaced, that would be another story.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:38 pm 
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Which one of the scores included is the best?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:04 pm 
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No mention of the MoC having combing.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:49 pm 
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I assume Beaver messed up by labeling the 20fps as 1080p. Criterion also put out Master of the House and People on Sunday in 1080i due to their irregular frame rates, so this seems to be Criterion's preferred approach.

The problem here is that 1080p only accepts signals at 24fps. Thus, you either have to use 1080i and set the desired framerate, or interpolate (double and insert) some frames to fake a 24fps signal. Done poorly this can add some "shuddering" to the transfer (WB's bluray of The Big Parade has been accused of this), but done well it should be imperceptible. MoC probably did this.

Here's some discussion on this re: old Buster Keaton releases.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:22 am 
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Doing non-24 fps at 1080/24p is always perceptible, moreso when it’s 20 or 22, but it never looks as smooth as it could if interlacing was used (and should, I think - these are motion pictures, not screencap farms, so the picture in motion is what counts.) Compare Criterion’s releases of The Phantom Carriage and Safety Last to MOC releases of silents at 20 and 22 fps and anyone should be able to see the difference; the former play back smooth as silk, the latter do not. This doesn’t always seem to work, Criterion’s Master of the House doesn’t seem any different from the usual 1080/24p style, but it should in a majority of cases. I can accept either method but I strongly prefer interlacing, so I’m glad Criterion go that route as often as they can.

Watch an interlaced silent on a PlayStation 3 and you won’t see any combing. All players should be pressed towards handling de-interlacing better but since interlacing is so often and wrongly presented as a negative instead of a highly useful tool, it’s a feature that is ignored.


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