on 28 June 2013
Tabu, Murnau's last film is the latest up-grade to blu-ray from a previous Masters of Cinema package, the excellent 2007 DVD release. I have so many Eureka releases of Sunrise that I didn't get around to up-grading it to BD, but Tabu has got there in two easier [on the wallet] steps.
So, is the Blu-ray worth it? Yes, the image quality is considerably higher than the DVD but the irony is that the higher resolution also sharpens any damage and there is plenty of surface damage. I'd sooner have it that way rather than use digital tools to clean it all up at the expense of film texture. I'm glad to see that this is the route F W Murnau Stiftung has taken of late, as with the recent photochemical only restoration of Die Nibelungen.
The improvement in image quality in this release is twofold; the obvious improvement that comes with a well produced blu-ray transfer is here complemented by the radical aspect ratio change. MoC's 2007 release was 1.37:1, which it was claimed was he original aspect ratio but this new version is 1.19:1. which again is claimed to be original and this time it would appear to be correct. However well meaning I'd say this calls into question the 'promotional' use of the term original aspect ratio.
So, what does this mean in viewing terms? The first and obvious difference is that 1.19:1 is considerably narrower than 1.37:1, that's two inches narrower when making a rudimentary onscreen measurement of the image width on my TV set. Given this, I set about analysing the same two frames from the two versions. The first was from the second image in the film, the young men standing in the surf with their fishing spears. I found that while the information was the same for the width of the frame there was what I can only describe as a huge amount of additional picture across the bottom of the frame and a good amount at the top. This results in a distinct difference in composition between the two images.
The second frame I selected again corresponded in width but in this case while the framing at the top was also the same it revealed a massive amount of additional picture information at the bottom of the frame. So, over all it appears that the 1.19:1 ratio benefits by revealing considerably more of the original image in frame. This narrower aspect ratio would seem to be consistent with other 'on film sound' productions of the period and is accounted for by the amount of space required for the soundtrack.
Now the entire image is on display the vertical composition is improved hugely and the quality is beautiful, [unless you are of the school of thought that believes digital technology should be employed to remove every visual imperfection]. This 1.19:1 ratio results in a much squarer frame and apparently it was not so popular with audiences at the time.
Two extras carry over from the 2007 release: they are the commentary and the Berriatua film. In addition to these we have a UFA produced short about fishing made from unused footage and most interesting is a short film about the out takes footage which amongst other things compares footage shot by Flaherty and Crosby and discusses which of Flaherty's shots were used.
The revised booklet on the other hand pales when compared to the substantial book that came with the original DVD release.
Over all for image quality this is a must, however many previous version you may have!
on 31 December 2007
This is a visually stunning film and very different from some of Murnau's earlier expressionist movies. Filmed in Tahiti it tells the story of Matahi, a young fisherman, who falls in love with Reri. She has been declared Tabu though and is forbidden to have lovers but the young couple are not prepared to give up so easily...
The story is simple and told without intertitles much like Murnau's 'the Last Laugh'. Only certain facts are conveyed through signs, documents etc where necessary.
The scenery and photography are stunning and although the film starts with a documentary feel the story soon takes over. It offers a fascinating glimpse into island life and is a pleasure to watch.
I would recommend 'Tabu' more to those who are already fans of 'silents' or Murnau, who want to see more of his work. Those new to the genre might find his more well known films a better starting place.
The extras include a 96 page book, commentary and documentary.
on 2 October 2013
TABU is for me a Chef d’œuvre of silent movies, an ethnographical testimony on the life of the inhabitants of the Polynesians islands (Tahiti) and an evocation of the paradise such as a Westerner could dream about it in the begining of the last century.
Of a high quality of images, the movie is completed by a interesting documentary presenting outtakes from the original shoot of the film , and a short realized from sequences not edited by F. W. Murnau.
A "clin d’œil" in the magic of the images of the director and his main chief cameraman who shows that the dream works always today.
Thanks M. Murnau
on 28 July 2016
This movie is in black and white with no soundtrack, yet, it still had the ability to attract my attention. I liked what I learned about it from comments. More, much more persuasive , was the fact that it is about French Polynesia, more so, Tahiti. I have had the privilege of visiting French Polynesia no less than eight times.I love the place and this movie brought back many memories of the beauty of that place. The story itself, to me, was as entrancing as the islands themselves, including its story. I enjoyed this movie and I think that you will too.
on 25 December 2009
Although this seems a beguiling, innocent story, this critique of religion and capitalism borders on blasphemy. It is visually lavish and Murnau's play with dark and light is reminiscent of 'Nosferatu', as is the iconic imagery. The sharp, truthful ending has a powerful punch that will not bring happiness to the romantics out there but completes a strong, meaningful story. I love it. The extras are great as well. A detailed 80 page booklet, a commentary with two film experts and a 'making of' documentary gives a full account of the film. This is as good as it gets; although 'Faust' is still my favourite.