Aug 30, 2016

Disc Releases We Dig This Week: August 30, 2016 edition

Incredibly exciting releases this week from Criterion, with their double shot of releases from Orson Welles' late period: Chimes at Midnight (1967) and The Immortal Story (1968). Chimes had been previously released on VHS in North America, in poor transfers. Earlier this year the film aired on TCM in a fairly respectable condition. With Criterion at the helm, one suspects this will have never looked better for any home release. The Immortal Story on the other hand I don't think has ever had a home release (at least on this continent). I reviewed the latter film -egad!- five years ago for ESR's tenth anniversary issue. (Perhaps I'll put it up here in the near future.)

From Criterion's website:
The crowning achievement of Orson Welles’s extraordinary cinematic career, Chimes at Midnight was the culmination of the filmmaker’s lifelong obsession with Shakespeare’s ultimate rapscallion, Sir John Falstaff. Usually a comic supporting figure, Falstaff—the loyal, often soused friend of King Henry IV’s wayward son Prince Hal—here becomes the focus: a robustly funny and ultimately tragic screen antihero played by Welles with looming, lumbering grace. Integrating elements from both Henry IV plays as well as Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, Welles created a gritty and unorthodox Shakespeare film as a lament, he said, “for the death of Merrie England.” Poetic, philosophical, and visceral—with a kinetic centerpiece battle sequence that rivals anything in the director’s body of work—Chimes at Midnight is as monumental as the figure at its heart.

Disc Features:
-New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
-Audio commentary featuring film scholar James Naremore, author of The Magic World of Orson Welles
-New interview with actor Keith Baxter
-New interview with director Orson Welles’s daughter Beatrice Welles, who appeared in the film at age nine
-New interview with actor and Welles biographer Simon Callow
-New interview with film historian Joseph McBride, author of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?
-Interview with Welles while at work editing the film, from a 1965 episode of The Merv Griffin Show
-PLUS: An essay by film scholar Michael Anderegg

From Criterion's website:
Orson Welles’s first color film and final completed fictional feature, The Immortal Story is a moving and wistful adaptation of a tale by Isak Dinesen. Welles stars as a wealthy merchant in nineteenth-century Macao, who becomes obsessed with bringing to life an oft-related anecdote about a rich man who gives a poor sailor a small sum of money to impregnate his wife. Also starring an ethereal Jeanne Moreau, this jewel-like film, dreamily shot by Willy Kurant and suffused with the music of Erik Satie, is a brooding, evocative distillation of Welles’s artistic interests—a story about the nature of storytelling and the fine line between illusion and reality.

Disc Features:
-New, restored 4K digital transfer of the English-language version of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
-Alternate French-language version of the film
-Audio commentary from 2005 featuring film scholar Adrian Martin
-Portrait: Orson Welles, a 1968 documentary directed by François Reichenbach and Frédéric Rossif
-New interview with actor Norman Eshley
-Interview from 2004 with cinematographer Willy Kurant
-New interview with Welles scholar François Thomas
-PLUS: An essay by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum


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