Customer Review

59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THRILLED.... AND DISAPPOINTED, 11 Mar. 2008
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This review is from: Hitchcock - The British Years [DVD] (DVD)
I had been waiting for years for the release in decent presentations of some of these great films, particularly The Lodger, available so far on DVD only in terrible transfers of very poor copies. So I was thrilled when I heard of this box-set and ordered a copy immediately. I won't repeat what previous customers wrote about the films and contents of this package, because I generally agree with them. But I must say I am very disappointed with the disc of The Lodger, for me the main attraction of this set. The picture looks very good in the new BFI restoration, considering the state of the film elements available, but how on earth Network and Granada considered acceptable for this release on DVD a mute presentation (with no soundtrack at all) of this gem o a film? Silent films were never silent! Was so expensive to record at least a simple piano score with out of copyright material? This is sloppy if not shameful. You only have to watch the archival copy of the film, included as a bonus, with much poorer picture and just a mediocre soundtrack, to realize how music improve the enjoyment of a silent film. I guess I'll have to wait for Eureka or any other responsible company to give The Lodger the treatment it deserves. Also, the box and all five individual cases share the same rush and cheap looking design. I cannot give this release more than 3 stars. What a shame.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Aug 2008 17:14:13 BDT
Mr Happy says:
For some reason the German boxset has a soundtrack, its also a good copy and print.

Posted on 1 Oct 2008 19:41:15 BDT
Thank you for the tip. MGM is releasing also a set in the USA, Alfred Hitchcok Premiere Collection, which includes The Lodger, remastered from the best elements apparently, and with TWO soundtracks, running commentary and some more attractive bonus features. With seven more movies, it seems a good edition, with lots of extras and the AFI Tribute to A. Hitchcock. I resent having to keep spending money for movies I already have, but I have ordered already my copy from in the States.

Posted on 18 Nov 2008 09:36:44 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Nov 2008 09:39:34 GMT
Having read your excellent review, I was expecting the archive version of 'The Lodger' to be the horrible un-tinted version I have seen previously - However it is the previous BFI version with the tints and, in my opinion, excellent soundtrack. It's a shame that this soundtrack couldn't be added to the newly restored version - perhaps the timing wouldn't have worked given that the frame rate/speed has been corrected. It is a good set but I would have liked the 'missing' films included - however poor the quality - and I do find 'silent' films presented silently hard going.

Posted on 20 Apr 2010 13:41:04 BDT
Why is the lack of music such a problem for so many people? Some mediocre pianist tinkling randomly is one of my pet hates of silent film. Luckily my setup allows separate selection of audio and video. Just put on some music of your choice, people. Not every silent film has Richard Einhorn or the Alloy Orchestra to provide an appropriate soundtrack.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jul 2010 18:11:48 BDT
Robert Moore says:
But silent films always had soundtracks. Why should they be so now? There can be good and bad accompaniment, but there needs to be some. I have the Premiere Collection, which has the two very good soundtracks mentioned above. I would never, ever dream of turning them off. To make no attempt whatsoever to provide a soundtrack is unconscionable.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Sep 2010 19:35:54 BDT
Some other things silent films 'always had' (or at least often had):
Gangs of noisy children running about loose in the cinema.
People chattering constantly throughout the film (considered socially acceptable as there was no spoken dialogue in the film to interrupt).
An ever-present danger of dying in a fire caused by flammable nitrate stock.

Which is all to say that progress ain't always the worst thing in the world.

I agree entirely with Cecelia Schmieder's comments. There are few things that set my teeth on edge moreso than newly-commissioned music for silent films on DVD. Their only 'contribution' is to give you sad music when the composer (or, just as frequently, improviser) thinks you should feel sad, and chipper music when they think you should be laughing. One might as well add a laugh track or the sound of sniffling and noses being blown into tissues; surely those aural blessings would likewise have been present in the odeons of old!

Even the best new scores (Neil Brand's, for instance) have such a overwhelming feeling of condescension about them that I can never stomach listening to them, when at all, until perhaps a third or fourth screening, if the film in question warrants one. I'm sure that if you tried watching truly great silent films without any sound whatever, you might find that you'd come to enjoy it even more than you did with a soundtrack. Much like those who claim not to be able to watch films that have subtitles, it's often that one just needs to get used to the experience slowly, and after that one hardly notices the absence of the music at all.

The best thing I've found in watching silent films without newly-added scores is that I feel I notice so much more of the detail and the background action when I'm not CONSTANTLY being told what to feel, watch, and pay attention to. And, as you surely know, it's the detail and the subtlety that are what often matter the most in Hitchcock's work, as well as in the best of all silent filmmaking.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Sep 2010 21:28:49 BDT
I get your point, but what about a good soundtrack? Or what about the one played when the film was premiered? We keep record of many of them. Because the truth is that in any good theatre ALL silent films were accompanied by sound. And I need that sound to enjoy completely a silent film. And I always have watched and enjoyed all films not in Spanish or English in their original version with subtitles, with no need to get used to that. But, speaking for myself, I don't want to get used to watch a silent movie lacking the aural experience, part of the total experience intended by the filmmaker.
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