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Superman: The Movie


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 01:08 AM

I just compared some frame grabs between the last DVD release of "Superman: The Movie" (the Expended Version) and the new transfer of the original release version that just came out on the new 4-disk set, but I couldn't find any difference at all, not enough to be worth posting comparison frames. It was pretty much identical, which is odd considering the two transfers are a few years apart.

The only thing that this new DVD has, besides both the original and expanded versions and the three behind-the-scenes docs on the old DVD, are some vintage items on Disk 4, like an old TV special about the making of the movie, the 1951 "Superman and the Mole Men", nine Fleischer cartoons (which are cool.)

Anyway, here are two frame grabs, just to remind me of what I liked about this movie. As a teenager, I was blown away by the design and photography of Kryton, especially the use of front-projection screen material in the wardrobe, combined with a front light and a Fog filter. I think we were all dreading some sort of Flash Gordon design for Krypton straight out of the old comics, so what John Barry & Geoffrey Unsworth did was really impressive:

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This image from the funeral has always been a touchstone for me; I've pulled it for reference on both "Northfork" and "The Astronaut Farmer" even though I've never copied it closely -- it's just that painterly Andrew Wyeth / Norman Rockwell / John Ford Americana feeling I love so much:

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#2 Nicholas Jenkins

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 01:21 AM

The biggest thing that stuck with me about this film was the openning credits sequence. It just really was everything I wanted Superman: The Movie to be. As I get older, I find that I just don't care for much of anything that took place in Metropolis, but I love everything (story, acting, design, shots, lighting) in Smallville and the fortress of solitude. It was just epic. Great stuff.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 01:51 AM

You can see in these frames from "Northfork" the subtle influence of "Superman" (and John Ford movies) on the framing. It helped that we were filming in Montana, which has similar weather and landscape conditions as the part of Canada where they shot the Smallville scenes (i.e. "Big Sky Country"). The camera spent a lot of time on a sandbag on the ground getting these shots...


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#4 Jamey Johnson

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 02:14 AM

Personally I prefer the funeral shots in The Astronaut Farmer over the Superman funeral shots, but I can definatley see the influence. The thing I love in the Superman frames is the soft vignette, especially in any of the landscape scenes.
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#5 John Holland

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 12:08 PM

I have always wanted to know how much light ,which would have to be almost on lens axis ,you would have to use to get correct balance on the costume and Brandos face , must have been judged through the lens i suppose ? John Holland.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 05:13 PM

I have always wanted to know how much light ,which would have to be almost on lens axis ,you would have to use to get correct balance on the costume and Brandos face , must have been judged through the lens i suppose ? John Holland.


Yes, I'd assume that would be the only accurate way of judging the effect. It was a pretty bold decision because a miscalculation would probably blow-out the costume enough to hide the most expensive per-minute actor in film history at that point, Marlon Brando.
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#7 Hal Smith

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 05:45 PM

I absolutely love compositions that use ALL the frame - IE: composed for the big screen. The eye candy of a large scale composition where one can look at one element, then another, then another is just so pleasing to my eye. The scene in "Lawrence of Arabia" where ALI is riding in on his horse from the horizon to the well where LAWRENCE and his arab guide are standing is my number one example of this principle. I'm not certain if I gained this appreciation before or after I moved to Oklahoma but it's certainly reinforced by my driving around this gorgeous state through wheat fields, wastelands, prairie, The Great Salt Plains, etc. I think Oklahoma should be renamed "The Wide Screen State".
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#8 Jamey Johnson

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 06:28 PM

Not to get off the topic of Superman, but still in the topic of comparing releases: I just rewatched 2001 and compared the latest release to the one before it- what a quality difference. Also, I rewatched the Remastered version of Lawrence of Arabia last night. Does anyone else find it so bizarre the ADR for the Remaster was done 25 years after the release. Also, I find it so hard to watch without constantly thinking about the shots that were borrowed from the movie. Every so often I expect to see Indiana Jones or a droid to appear in the scene.
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