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Customer Review

119 of 131 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A disaster, 13 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Directed By Douglas Sirk [DVD] (DVD)
DVD companies take a lot of criticism, much of it justified, for finding ways to get consumers to re-purchase the same titles over and over. For example, with this box set, instead of including All I Desire, which had already been available on DVD for some time, they could have included a different Sirk film like There's Always Tomorrow. This time, however, I had nothing but good feelings about buying this set. Two of my most desired films that had not been released on DVD before, Magnificent Obsession and The Tarnished Angels, were finally coming out! But the way they botched the release of a great film like Magnificent Obsession is inexcusable.
The colors are off (everything is too pink), there is way too much visible "grain" in the transfer, and many scenes have a blurry look, probably due to improper alignment of the three separate strips of the film elements.
Worst of all, as the other reviewer already pointed out, they were way off on the aspect ratio. Back in mid-1954 when this film came out directors and cinematographers were still composing for 1.37:1, or 1.66:1 at the very widest. Sirk and Russell Metty meticulously set up each shot to show important characters, objects, and relationships between them composed in a particular way. For some reason, Universal has seen fit to retain masking to roughly 2:1 that was applied at some point after Magnificent Obsession's initial release.
If this seems like tech geekery or home-theater hair-splitting to you, imagine how different it is seeing the film reduced to a completely strange-looking state by intruding cuts way into the top and bottom boundaries of the frame, starting with the Universal logo at the beginning and continuing all the way through the film. Magnificent Obsession's careful composition of the shots to frame the important visual information is crucial to the mise-en-scene (and thus the substantial meaning of the film) and is not very forgiving of a drastic change like this.
I know this is only one film out of the box set, but as it is one of Sirk's best and this was to be its auspicious DVD debut, it really is a major disappointment. One can only hope that Universal will do a much better job if and when Magnificent Obsession is released in the U.S.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 May 2009 19:26:43 BDT
let's hope you survived this major melodramatic incident in your troubled and tear streamed 13, 99 pounds it must have been such a blow!

Posted on 22 Feb 2010 06:06:57 GMT
Suzanne says:
Someone should REALLY post a review correcting the incorrect information being peddled in some of these reviews. Magnificent Obsession was shot in a 2.00:1 ratio, and that's how it's presented in this set. You can get the aspect ratio right from IMDb. I think many people saw the film years ago in a 4:3 or 1.37:1 format and thought that was the way it was meant to be; it's not.

Posted on 27 Jun 2012 12:09:46 BDT
The great debate on the issue of the "correct" ratio for MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION has no easy answers. 1.37:1 or 2:1? Was the latter "forced" onto the director after filming, or did he allow for both versions whilst shooting? Unfortunately Mr Sirk isn't here to ask, so we can only rely on our own aesthetic judgement as to which version is preferable. You can check out the 1.37:1 version in the Carlotta Films French release ("Le Secret Magnifique"), though the colour isn't quite so well saturated in that print as in either the Criterion (R1) editions, or this superb value "studio" release. Personally I prefer the brighter palette of this R2 release to the darker, murkier Criterion print, much admired though that is in America. At all events, we should make up our own minds about an issue which is very far from easily answered as to rights and wrongs.

Posted on 17 May 2013 22:25:03 BDT
J. Kinory says:
What do you mean, "grain"? It's grain, without scare quotes. That's the correct photographic term.
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