DVD Review: Phantom of the Opera : The Ultimate Edition

Phantom of the OperaFor Halloween, I decided to pick up The Phantom of the Opera: The Ultimate Edition, which I got for $15 or so from my local mass retailer. This is actually a 2 DVD set, which includes two versions of the film: the longer 1925 release version, as well as the re-release 1929 version.

I must admit, I’ve only watched the 1929 version, and have not absorbed the audio commentary or extras on the disks, but the high quality of the 1929 version alone merits purchase of this DVD. It is a beautiful restoration. From their blurb:

This deluxe 2-DVD package features both versions of the spine-tingling Chaney horror masterpiece: the longer 1925 original release (rarely available due to print quality issues) and the 1929 re-release, mastered from gorgeous original 35mm materials including the film’s famed Technicolor sequences. The 1925 version boasts a splendid score by composer Jon Mirsalis. The 1929 Phantom has a full orchestral score by the legendary Carl Davis as well as an alternate track with the never-before-available original Vitaphone soundtrack!

The print is just about as beautiful as you can imagine. Obviously they have worked hard to stabilize the image: there is no sprocket weave as is seen on many cheap transfers from old film. Tears, pops and other problems have been removed, and it just looks gorgeous. In particular, the Bal Masque and the scene atop the Paris Opera house are gorgeous uses of Technicolor. Amazing stuff from an early film.

Don’t settle for cheap public domain substitutes. Go spend your bucks. Worth it.

Addendum: IMDB has some additional commentary on the color processes used in early prints. Apparently the Bal Masque and Apollo’s Lyre sequences were filmed in an early two-color version of Technicolor. There were other prints in different early color processes. Good stuff.

Jon Stewart on C-SPAN

C-SPAN recently ran an interview with Jon Stewart and just like his appearance on Crossfire, he continues to roast the conventional television media for participating in the farce that is “popular journalism”.

I’ll undoubtably rant about this some more in my podcast, but here is an idea for thought: Fox News made a deliberate choice to advocate the conservative agenda in America, and has become a commercial success on that basis. Here’s the question: why can’t a news network be similarly focussed, not on the “liberal” viewpoint, or the “left” viewpoint, but the viewpoint of integrity? Why not make the news network that really is Fair and Balanced and News You Can Trust?

More in the audio podcast soon. Download and listen to his interview, it’s great.

Mysteries of Package Tracking

First thing this morning I decided to try to track my latest amazon order to see when it was going to arrive. I got the following:

Date            Time            Location Service Area   Checkpoint Details
Nov 01, 2004    09:05:00 AM     ALLENTOWN PA            WITH DELIVERY COURIER.  
Nov 01, 2004    07:55:00 AM     OAKLAND CA              ARRIVED AT DHL FACILITY.  
Oct 29, 2004    05:06:30 PM     Lexington KY USA        SHIPPED  

I rather liked the idea that it was in Oakland, because that is fairly local. Allentown, PA, despite being lauded in song by Billy Joel, is nowhere near where I am at though. The distance between these two cities is 2483 miles, and apparently there was only one hour, ten minutes between their appearance. Hence, the most logical explanation is that my package was carried by SR-71.

We shall see if my package shows up sometime soon.