Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

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perkizitore
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#26 Post by perkizitore » Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:36 pm

Has anyone checked the extras of BFI's upcoming Blu-ray release of Salo? Criterion has more, but BFI has a making of. But let's wait for the image quality of these releases.

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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#27 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Thu Jul 10, 2008 8:13 pm

perkizitore wrote:Has anyone checked the extras of BFI's upcoming Blu-ray release of Salo? Criterion has more, but BFI has a making of. But let's wait for the image quality of these releases.
See page 32 for all the details.

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MichaelB
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#28 Post by MichaelB » Fri Sep 05, 2008 10:20 am

perkizitore wrote:Has anyone checked the extras of BFI's upcoming Blu-ray release of Salo? Criterion has more, but BFI has a making of.
For comparison purposes:

Both editions

- Italian and English soundtracks
- Fade to Black, a 23-minute documentary featuring directors Bernardo Bertolucci, Catherine Breillat, and John Maybury, as well as scholar David Forgacs
- Theatrical trailer (BFI disc has the original Italian trailer; Criterion doesn't specify)

Unique to Criterion

- "Salò": Yesterday and Today, a 33-minute documentary featuring interviews with director Pier Paolo Pasolini, actor-filmmaker Jean-Claude Biette, and Pasolini friend Nineto Davoli
- The End of "Salò", a 40-minute documentary about the film’s production
- New interviews with set designer Dante Ferretti and director and film scholar Jean-Pierre Gorin
- A booklet featuring new essays by Neil Bartlett, Catherine Breillat, Naomi Greene, Sam Rohdie, Roberto Chiesi, and Gary Indiana, and excerpts from Gideon Bachmann’s on-set diary

Unique to BFI

- Coil - Ostia (the Death of Pasolini) The original 1987 track from Coil's celebrated second album, Horse Rotorvator, with a newly created video accompaniment, shot especially for this release, by Peter Christopherson.
- On set footage and interviews (1974, 25m) – newly created documentary using full colour footage shot in 1974 by acclaimed film journalist and Pasolini expert Gideon Bachmann.
- Whoever Says the Truth Shall Die (1981, 58m) Philo Bregstein's classic documentary on the life and death of Pier Paolo Pasolini.
- Ostia (1991, 25m, with optional director commentary track) – Julian Cole's short film about the last days of Pasolini, starring Derek Jarman.
- A booklet featuring essays by Sam Rohdie, Gideon Bachmann, Gilbert Adair, James Ferman's letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, cast and credits, Pasolini biography, stills.

Direct comparison of the transfers will have to wait for DVD Beaver (I haven't seen either), but the BFI clearly has the edge regarding both definition (Blu-Ray) and source (the original negative), while the Criterion seems to be an SD disc sourced from a cleaned-up 35mm interpositive.

Just to put an end to all the speculation, I can now confirm that the BFI's Salo remains the longest version of the film available, with the new restoration including the short sequence missing from both the Criterion releases.

As the booklet explains:
In order to present Salò in its complete and uncut form, this DVD edition includes a brief scene which was cut from the original negative and is only available in a 35mm print held at the BFI National Archive. Although efforts have been made to make this inserted material consistent with the overall feature, the noticeable contrast in image quality is due to the difference in source material.
Sadly (for some), I can now confirm that the BFI's Salo Blu-Ray will definitely be Region B, due to unavoidable contractual issues.

And that's straight from the head of BFI DVD Publishing, so it's completely official.

UPDATE: I've just uploaded the first comparison of the final versions all three recent releases here. I now have the Criterion, BFI Blu-ray and BFI SD directly to hand, so do feel free to ask me about any specifics.

DVD Beaver comparison - or an interim version, at least (he's only been sent the Blu-ray disc, not the extras yet).

Please ignore Gary's over-optimistic "skepticism" about the region code of the final version - it's 100% definitely Region B, in line with contractual obligations imposed by the rightsholder.

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jsteffe
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#29 Post by jsteffe » Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:25 pm

Hmmm... based on Gary's frame grabs the color scheme of the BFI disc looks decidedly cool next to the warmer Criterion re-release. Personally I lean towards the Criterion--it seems to have a richer range of hues--but I can see the BFI version also working in its own way. (This is assuming that the frame grabs are 100% accurate, since we already know they're not an exact science.)

Either way, the best decision I ever made in my life was to sell that original crappy greenish Criterion DVD to some desperate soul for $300! It was the worst-looking title they ever put out.

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MichaelB
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#30 Post by MichaelB » Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:32 pm

jsteffe wrote:Hmmm... based on Gary's frame grabs the color scheme of the BFI disc looks decidedly cool next to the warmer Criterion re-release. Personally I lean towards the Criterion--it seems to have a richer range of hues--but I can see the BFI version also working in its own way. (This is assuming that the frame grabs are 100% accurate, since we already know they're not an exact science.)
I'm happy to confirm that Gary's grabs look pretty accurate. As for the colour, I think it's a matter of taste - there's clear contextual justification for a cooler look (given that Pasolini intended the film to be detached and analytical), but without Pasolini or Tonino Delli Colli to confirm, there's always going to be a certain amount of educated guesswork.
Either way, the best decision I ever made in my life was to sell that original crappy greenish Criterion DVD to some desperate soul for $300! It was the worst-looking title they ever put out.
The original BFI DVD wasn't much better!

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#31 Post by CSM126 » Sat Sep 20, 2008 3:34 am

Maybe it's just something on my end, but those blu-ray caps look awful in full resolution. They look all blocky and smeary and pixelated on my monitor.

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MichaelB
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#32 Post by MichaelB » Sat Sep 20, 2008 4:26 am

CSM126 wrote:Maybe it's just something on my end, but those blu-ray caps look awful in full resolution. They look all blocky and smeary and pixelated on my monitor.
It looks fine in motion - and Gary himself says in the same review that "it looks quite stunning".

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Tommaso
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#33 Post by Tommaso » Sat Sep 20, 2008 6:17 am

Gary Tooze wrote:Extras include the 6:54 Death of Pasolini featurette that some may find as bewildering as the man himself.
Oh oh... I somehow feared that Christopherson wouldn't simply do an 'aesthetic' kind of pop video. The titles on the Beaver cap mentioning a Khmer Rouge 'Interrogation Camp' (and that dog!) makes me assume that this might be almost as 'unwatchable' as the film itself.

As to the colours: I think the BFI is more accurate, the additional warmth (and contrast boosting, look at the third cap!) on the CC seems not only less appropriate to the film, but also makes it look less 'smooth' and film-like. Unless that latter difference comes from the CC not being a Blu Ray disc; but I'd be surprised if the difference was showing even in screen caps.

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Darth Lavender
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#34 Post by Darth Lavender » Sat Sep 20, 2008 10:31 pm

MichaelB wrote:
CSM126 wrote:Maybe it's just something on my end, but those blu-ray caps look awful in full resolution. They look all blocky and smeary and pixelated on my monitor.
It looks fine in motion - and Gary himself says in the same review that "it looks quite stunning".
I can't speak to what it looks like in motion (blasted Australian censorship, and this is the one blu-ray I would have at least considered paying 15 pounds for) but from the caps it looks a lot like my HDDVD of 'Elizabeth' which, I suspect, suffers from a very subtle edge-enhancement (which meshes well with what Gary illustrated in his vidcaps)

I quick look at my HDDVD of 'Casablanca' (which I just bought a few days ago) showed a similar, but more subtle effect. A sort of mild 'harshness' to the image (probably, again, due to the kind of very mild edge-enhancement which is somewhat acceptable in DVD but noticable on Blu-Ray)

Assuming this is as bad as Elizabeth (which I think is the most accurate comparison) I wouldn't quite call this a deal-breaker. It's not the type of thing you see and then can't stop seeing (like the jaggies in Faust) but it does give the whole image a faint 'harshness' if you sit close to the screen like I do.
I'd be even more lenient, here, because this is Salo, and I assume most of the people buying this are buying it largely for the extras.

One thing does puzzle me, though, with it being pretty clear that at least some edge-enhancement was used; I have to wonder why?
'Elizabeth' and the less-severe 'Casablanca' were both originally mastered with DVD in mind, so it's not surprising that we see that slight 'harshness'

But, Salo would have been a whole new master specifically intended for a simultaneous DVD & Blu-Ray release.

The idea of edge-enhancement still being deliberately used (and not just as a side-effect of cost-cutting, as in Elizabeth & Casablanca) is what concerns me a little more.

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#35 Post by Bürgermeister » Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:06 am

Is BFI having trouble getting the Blu-Ray of Salo out? Just got back from town and went in HMV and Zavvi neither had it except for the SD-DVD.

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#36 Post by MichaelB » Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:14 am

Bürgermeister wrote:Is BFI having trouble getting the Blu-Ray of Salo out? Just got back from town and went in HMV and Zavvi neither had it except for the SD-DVD.
The BFI itself seemed to be selling copies in the foyer when I popped out for my lunch break earlier today.

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#37 Post by Bürgermeister » Tue Sep 30, 2008 2:36 pm

MichaelB wrote:
Bürgermeister wrote:Is BFI having trouble getting the Blu-Ray of Salo out? Just got back from town and went in HMV and Zavvi neither had it except for the SD-DVD.
The BFI itself seemed to be selling copies in the foyer when I popped out for my lunch break earlier today.
Must be the suppliers all the usual websites are saying pre-order, dispatched in next 7 days. Amazon website is claiming release on 2nd of October. It seems strange that SD-DVD is available though.

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sir karl
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#38 Post by sir karl » Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:48 am


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MichaelB
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#39 Post by MichaelB » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:24 am

Blu-ray.com.

(One tiny quibble - as far as I recall, it is possible to watch the film in unsubtitled Italian, but you have to select the relevant option via the menus rather than switching it on the fly)

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Tommaso
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#40 Post by Tommaso » Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:52 am

Right then, I received my set (SD) yesterday, and as I couldn't yet bring myself to watch the film itself, I started with the less directly related extras.

First the Coil video: a very nice visual adaptation, filmed in Thailand, where Christopherson lives these days. It seems to me that apart from relating the horrors of "Salo" to those of the Khmer Rouge, Christopherson also tried to celebrate what for lack of a better term could be described as the "Thai ragazzi", thus hearking back to Pasolini's own obsessions (and Sleazy's own, I suppose). Wiith the re-staging of his murder in the film Christopherson is almost trying to give us a whole visual portrait of Pasolini, the man. Well, certainly too much for a six-minute piece, but well done. I also liked the brief written piece by Christopherson in the booklet.

Then on to Julian Cole's "Ostia": this is, well, a student film, and it somehow doesn't feel fully accomplished for many reasons. But it is nice to see Jarman as an actor (even though it's obvious that Pasolini was a far better one, if his appearance as Chaucer in "Canterbury Tales" is any indication), and the film has a nice dream sequence that could have come straight out of "Last of England" or "The Garden". More interesting than the film itself was Cole's audiocommentary, in which we learn a lot about his and Jarman's motivations for the film (and little about Pasolini, but that's beside the point). My only criticism is the badly battered print used: the audio is so crackly that in places it is very hard to understand what is said. Was there really no better print available, or if not, couldn't they have simply cleaned up the audio a little bit?
Anyway, well worth seeing, and for those with nostalgia for the 80s industrial music movement: the music for this piece was composed by Test Dept. (apparently unreleased elsewhere), and if I'm not mistaken, in the billiard room sequence I think I briefly spotted Coil's Stephen E. Thrower as one of the guests...

Finally, the long documentary by Bregstein. I agree with MichaelB that this is a very substantial piece, though not necessarily THE best documentary I've ever seen on Pasolini (I'd ultimately prefer the 2-hour "A futura memoria" which is on the RHV "Sopralluoghi in Palestina" disc, it's just more detailed). The good thing is that it doesn't focus so much on the films, but on Pasolini's writings and poetry, and the backgrounds of his thinking.

So, everything about this BFI set seems to be as great as I hoped. The booklet is lavish, and I really liked the menu designs, imitating the look of the black on white opening credits of many of Pasolini's films. Certainly the best way to do the menus in case of a film like this.

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#41 Post by MichaelB » Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:12 am

Another DVD Times review - this time of the Blu-ray.

(Note that the Blu-ray and DVD editions are identical aside from the feature, trailer and Coil video being in high-definition on disc one. Disc two is literally identical in both cases)

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Darth Lavender
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#42 Post by Darth Lavender » Sat Oct 18, 2008 7:50 pm

To revise my earlier thoughts on Salo's quality.

I was watching Battlestar Galactica on HDDVD the other day and it's a fine transfer indeed. Obviously exactly what the directors wanted, there's lots of grain throughout (in this case, intentional digital noise) no excessive sharpening... It's ranks with 'Bullit' as one of the most 'authentic-looking' movies I've seen on High Definition...
Then I happened to pause it and, in 'freeze-frame' it looked truly, utterly horrible...
Horrible in exactly the same way as the Salo captures :wink:

Tried the same with 'Elizabeth,' comparing freeze-frames with freeze-frames, and there's really no similarity there.


So, I'm completely revising my own estimation of the BFI blu-ray's quality. (Of course, the EE was silly as heck, just because it gives the reviewers something to criticise)

And, if I might offer a bit of free advice to the BFI (I might even send an email) this is one Blu-Ray which (if I'm right about the stills vs motion thing) could DEFINITELY benefit from a 1080p trailer online (all the major studios are doing those already, so the technology is there, and it's really the only way (aside from dubious-sounding praise) to convey just how good this Blu-Ray (I assume, based on BG) looks in motion.

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MichaelB
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#43 Post by MichaelB » Sun Oct 19, 2008 2:42 am

Darth Lavender wrote:(aside from dubious-sounding praise)
So three respected reviewers, based in three different countries and with no connection to the BFI, reach more or less identical conclusions in their reviews - and you think this is "dubious-sounding"?

On the contrary, doesn't such a consensus from people with reputations to protect suggest that their findings are far more likely to be accurate than anything else?

And would you not agree that the really "dubious-sounding" individuals in this debate are those who have been happy to slam the transfer, often in absurdly hyperbolic terms, without actually watching it first?

(Credit where it's due: you've been the most thoughtful of the naysayers, and I appreciate that you have specific local reasons for not being able to watch it - but the fact remains that you still haven't watched it, and therefore your opinion is automatically less valid than that of the "dubious-sounding" individuals you're citing).

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Re: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

#44 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Thu Dec 25, 2008 6:56 am

A bit late, but the picture quality debate resurfaced over at the Blu-ray.com forums, compelling Robert Harris to throw his hat into the ring:
I've now had an opportunity to peruse the Blu-ray of Salo, and here's what I'm seeing.

The film appears to have been scanned on the wrong equipment, as notches have affected the stability of every shot. If a facility does not have the means to correct these problems digitally, the element should be scanned pin-registered, which should be unaffected, or far less affected, by the timing notches.

The entire film appears to have been processed to remove grain, with additional processing in an attempt to make it look more like film. It does not. The final result is fully digital.

Because of the processing, high frequency information has been lost.

All in all, at least to my eye, not a pretty picture, and assuming that earlier information is correct, none of these problems stem from the BFI.
And here's Torsten Kaiser on the provenance of the master:
The film elements were handled in Rome (as I suspected, by Technicolor; this was not the first time this issue came up) without the presence of anybody from the BFI. The master was made not from a transfer direct to HD but a 2K scan of the material (from what I am seeing here, on a 2K Spirit - that still has the little porcelain piece near the lens head attached, which is part of the cause of the distortions). Then the files were converted and played to out to an HD tape, in this case an HDCAMSR. This is what the BFI received, not the 2K files. I do not know whether the SR was done 4:4:4 RGB, but I suspect it was not, so it was made 24psf 1080 - probably 4:2:2 YUV. During that scan (!!!!!) already De-Noising was attributed - so it could not be removed. The color timing is another issue, but the "bugs" were already in the "flesh" before the 2K downconvert HDCAMSR made it to the hands of the BFI team.
The "processing" that you refered to, Robert, is the trail of a de-noising tool such as Digital Vision produces it. It removes grain by cleansing the image intraframe from not only grain but any HF detail and replaces it with an almost veil-like shroud if made too agressively. The artifacts left behind are crystal sharp and on the file resemble little sugar powder that replaces the original pixel information.

A pin-registered scanner such as an IMAGICA would have been, indeed, better for this material - not to mention that the use of de-noising during the scan is something that is beyond belief.

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TMDaines
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Re: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

#45 Post by TMDaines » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:59 pm

How is the dual format of this packaged? Same as the Blu-ray with a Blu keep case and book housed by a slip case?

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mfunk9786
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Re: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

#46 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:07 am

If it's anything like the dual-format Alice release, it's the wide clear Blu case like the one that MoC uses for their dual-format releases.

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TMDaines
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Re: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

#47 Post by TMDaines » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:29 am

mfunk9786 wrote:If it's anything like the dual-format Alice release, it's the wide clear Blu case like the one that MoC uses for their dual-format releases.
Yeh, it could be but I think they'd have to print yet another different size book then. Oh well, we'll see.

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bigP
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Re: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

#48 Post by bigP » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:35 am

It's the same as the cases MOC use, no slip case, three discs surprisingly fitting well. I never had the Blu-ray release so don't know what the booklet for that was like, but I didn't notice anything missing from the Dual booklet when (swiftly) checked against the DVD booklet.

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TMDaines
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Re: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

#49 Post by TMDaines » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:28 am

bigP wrote:It's the same as the cases MOC use, no slip case, three discs surprisingly fitting well. I never had the Blu-ray release so don't know what the booklet for that was like, but I didn't notice anything missing from the Dual booklet when (swiftly) checked against the DVD booklet.
Great, thanks. Safe to order through somewhere that uses shitting packaging then.

Orlac
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Re: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

#50 Post by Orlac » Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:08 pm

Well, the edge enhacement on this transfer is pretty horrid, almost as horrid as the film! ;)

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