Today saw Masters of Cinema announce their Q4 releases for 2012 and the announcement is a mixture of pleasing confirmations and delightful surprises.
September will see Soul Power return to the series, available as a dual format release and a standalone DVD. The title went out of print late last year (as reported in my first column) and it very much looked as if it would not return. The Blu-ray release quickly reached exorbitant prices on Ebay as many collectors wanted to plug that hole in their collection and I'm sure that the resurgence of interest in the release had an impact on MoC's decision to bring it back.
October sees the long delayed release of Die Nibelungen, which I'm sure will be worth the wait. I for one can't wait to kick back and feast on five hours of Fritz Lang at his best, and on Blu-ray no less.
Much shorter but no less essential is the other October release, Sam Fuller's vital and gripping drama about newspapermen in the 19th century. The film is a favourite of mine (a still from it has provided me with a Twitter background for a couple of years now) and I can't wait to see the new MoC edition. Previously only available as part of the U.S. MGM Limited Edition Collection (an on demand DVD-R service) this will be the film's début on DVD in the UK and the release will hopefully include some worthy extras. My dream extra would be a commentary from David Simon, although I may be asking a little too much there.
November brings the new restoration of Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc. The chance to see Dreyer's beautiful film in HD is a tantalizing prospect and this release is one that many are highly anticipating, and with good reason.
MoC served up two Billy Wilder releases last month and in November they will release another film from Wilder's idol, Ernst Lubitsch. Wilder reportedly had a sign in his office which read 'How would Lubitsch do it?' and although I have seen shamefully few Lubitsch films I can see why Wilder considered him so important. I look forward to expanding my Lubitsch knowledge with Trouble in Paradise.
And finally, December will see the release of two Japanese films from MoC, Ozu's beautiful Floating Weeds and Kinugasa's Gate of Hell. Ozu's Floating Weeds was a remake of his own black and white silent The Story of Floating Weeds and it will be interesting to see if MoC have secured the rights to that too for a double film release.
The releases announced are a mixture of formats and it's interesting to see that MoC have changed their release strategy slightly, with standalone releases also available. Feel free to let me know what you'll be picking up in the comments and on what format.
Read on for the full list of titles and details, taken from the official press release, and click on the links at the foot of the post for the hi-res covers.
10 September 2012
The vérité documentary – compiled entirely from footage shot in 1974 – of the astonishing back-to-Africa 3-day music festival "Zaire '74". It was held in Kinshasa ahead of the biggest boxing event of all time: the Muhammad Ali–George Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle". Re-issued as a Blu-ray + DVD "Dual Format" edition & standalone DVD edition.
22 October 2012
DIE NIBELUNGEN [THE NIBELUNGEN]
From the same legend that inspired Wagner's Ring cycle of operas, but with Fritz Lang's signature cinematic touch, a 5-hour fantasy epic in a beautiful new restoration by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Germany. Blu-ray and DVD editions from spectacular HD materials.
Ripsnorting drama from the maverick legend Samuel Fuller, who drew on his own experiences as a newspaperman to self-finance this long-overlooked hardboiled gem about media wars in the 1880s New York press. DVD edition from a new progressive transfer.
12 November 2012
THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC [LA PASSION DE JEANNE D'ARC / JEANNE D'ARC'S LIDELSE OG DØD]
One of the most famous and iconic of all silent films, Carl Theodor Dreyer's mesmeric The Passion of Joan of Arc is released in an exclusive new restoration featuring Dreyer's very own Danish intertitles – on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world, in a limited-edition premium "Dual Format" (Blu-ray + DVD) SteelBook edition. Also available as standalone DVD & blu-ray sets.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
Described by Pauline Kael as nothing less than "perfection", and by Empire Magazine as "the most sophisticated comedy ever produced in Hollywood", Ernst Lubitsch's very first comedy of the sound era is a cinematic feast of wit, charm, and romance. DVD edition from a new HD transfer.
3 December 2012
FLOATING WEEDS [UKIGUSA]
A typically exquisite offering from the great Yasujiro Ozu, reworking his own A Story of Floating Weeds [Ukigusa monogatari] to explore the trials and tribulations of an ageing actor on his return to a seaside port and lives he left behind. Exclusively restored, on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world (in a Blu-ray + DVD "Dual Format" edition), and also available as a standalone DVD set.
GATE OF HELL [JIGOKUMON]
Critically acclaimed but long unavailable in the west, Teinosuke Kinugasa's enthralling Cannes and Oscars-winning tale of feudal intrigue, political machinations, and erotic obsession is available once more. Beautifully restored in a Blu-ray + DVD "Dual Format" edition, also available as a standalone DVD set.
Just a quick reminder that there is still time to enter the competition to win two very rare Masters of Cinema posters. Click through to the last column for details on how to enter.
Hi–res cover artwork: