Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has revealed that it plans to bring to Blu-ray director Carol Reed's The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), starring Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison, Diane Cilento, Alberto Lupo, Venantino Venantini, and Tomas Milian. The preliminary release date set by the studio is March 4, 2014.
Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison portray two of the Renaissance's most colorful figures in this historical drama based on Irving Stone's best-seller set in the early 16th century. When Pope Julius ll (Harrison) commissions Michelangelo (Heston) to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the artist initially refuses. Virtually forced to do the job by Julius, he later destroys his own work and flees to Rome. Eventually resumed, the project becomes a battle of wills fueled by artistic and temperamental differences that form the core of this movie. Nominated for an Oscar Cinematography and named one of the year's best films by the National Board of Review.
"...named one of the Best Films of the Year by the National Board of Review" - yeah real obscure. Better Fox release it than Olive or Twilight Time and we get barely a trailer for Bonus Features (yeah I know it reads there's only the trailer but I'll bet there'll be other features by the time it's released)
@bigkt123: This is a film that just screams to be released on BD. The image if it's in good shape will make it one of the BDs of the year. As for the story, it is a very entertaining look at a battle between two gigantic wills (Pope & Michelangelo) as portrayed by two superb actors. I hope you give it a chance when it comes out before passing judgement. It will be time well spent.
As for the paucity of other catalogue titles, on that I do sadly agree. The number of top titles has dwindled in the last 12 months. BD now concentrates its marketing energies on recent releases. If it wasn't for classy, some would say snobby, Criterion, and small companies such as Twilight Time. Flicker Alley, Olive Films along with the occasional good master from Warner Bros. there wouldn't be much in the catalogue market worth buying. The situation is much as I predicted a year ago (Dec. 16, 2012). I expected studios to pull back from catalogue films simply because they don't sell in large numbers on BD and aren't worth the studios' efforts.
This was posted as news back in July, just in case no one remembers....
"20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has commissioned HTV illuminate Arts-Media-Entertainment to restore two of its classics for a Blu-ray release later this year: 'The Agony and the Ecstasy' and 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines'', two 1965 films shot in Todd-AO (a film format that used 65mm negatives and 70mm release prints).
The movies have been scanned at 2K from 65mm interpositive source materials. By current standards, this seems a little low, especially for such a large negative. For example, Warner Brothers scanned 'The Wizard of Oz' (shot on 35mm) at 4K. So did The Film Foundation with 'The Red Shoes'; and 'A Star Is Born' has reportedly already been restored at 6K. However, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting.
According to the company, its proprietary deep scanning process (with an equally proprietary scanning device called the Illuminate Light Scanner) makes it possible to extract far greater detail from film elements than is possible with other restoration processes without changing their original look and character. "The original image is not modified in any way," observed HTV illuminate CEO Jim Hardy. "It has allowed us to produce great results for both recent films and for older titles such as 'The Agony and the Ecstasy' and 'Those Magnificent Men'."
According to company colorist Mark Nowicki, a major challenge with 'The Agony and the Ecstasy' were density changes throughout the movie, "associated with the leader that was used to separate scenes in the original master."
On the other hand, the film elements available from 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines' were in much better condition, although it had problems with shading and other color-related aspects of the film. Additionally, film opticals made at the time looked "crude by contemporary standards", so it was decided to apply sharpening and grain reduction "to make those scenes look more acceptable to modern viewers." Hopefully the results will be subtler than those on the previous 70mm films from Fox previously released on Blu-ray.
Additionally, the restoration team performed a significant amount of wire and rig removal that simply was not possible at the time the film was made. For both films, HTV illuminate used 65mm interpositives as its source material. Before scanning the films, they were subject to rigorous analysis to identify trouble spots. Post scanning grading is done via Digital Vision's Film Master, which is also used for post-grading scratch removal and other image repair and enhancement functions."
"Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" was released by Twilight Time in a pretty well reviewed disc right here on this site. Lets see what happens...
Maybe these other Fox classics I voted for and lost are comming soon also ??? Kiss of Death, The Bravados, Prince Valiant, UK version is very grainy. Warlock, and One Million Years B.C. Hammer Film Raquel Welch. Dec. 2014 ????? I hope sooner ! ........... Yes I remember Carcosa !
Are we to assume that Those Magnificent Men etc. is being redone for a further blu ray release other than the Twilight Time one which appeared last year?
TT is, of course, a purely North American affair: its licenced releases don't appear anywhere else in the world except, occasionally, on any given studio's own label. More often, the titles don't appear at all. I believe the TT licencing arrangements are for 3 years: so either Fox is already looking to a new release for TMMITFM thereafter, or, more hopefully, a release on its own label sometime soon in Europe (and it is a thoroughly English film in the first place, shot here, with an almost entirely English cast and director). Fingers crossed!
Fox's DVD of The Agony and the Ecstasy was sourced from a 2004 restoration of the original 65mm negative. Whether it is the same restoration as the one described above is unclear. At any rate, the DVD looks fine, so the Blu-ray should look better. However, the audio on the DVD was scratchy in parts, so there is some room for improvement on the Blu-ray.
The movie is worth seeing if only for the remarkable replica of the Sistine Chapel built on a sound stage in Rome (and enhanced a bit by visual effects). Heston and Harrison give excellent performances, with Heston especially toning down his "larger than life" acting style.
The 12 minute prologue, dealing with Michelangelo's sculptures, was included on the DVD, so it should also be on the Blu-ray, since the running times are the same. I believe the prologue has always been part of the movie (even though it was made by other filmmakers), probably to help justify Agony's release as a roadshow attraction. Without the prologue, the intermission and the exit music, the movie would have run about two hours.