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Clockwork Orange on Bu-ray


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#1 Craig Knowles

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 01:45 AM

I got the blu-ray of Clockwork Orange for Christmas and was struck by how many soft shots there are in the picture. I wondered if anyone had any thoughts on this.

A few things came to my mind:
  • In most of the extreme wide shots, the center tends to be relatively sharp, but it falls off a lot on the sides. Is this just a quality of lens issue, or maybe because they're just extreme wide lenses in the first place?
  • In some cases, there seems to be some sort of diffusion going on where a objects will have a slight halo or soft outline. One good example is during the "test" where Alex is on stage and they bring a nude woman out to see if his treatment has been successful. When the girl walks into the light, there's a rather large and noticeable halo effect on the (screen) left side of her.
  • In the special features (and in fact, in a lot of the set photos in books like Michel Ciment's 'Kubrick' and Allison Castle's 'Archives') there are a lot of shots of Kubrick using a large blimped camera where the lens is inside, shooting through glass in the blimp itself. Might this account for soft/diffuse-looking stuff? I really don't believe Kubrick was much of a diffusion guy so I wonder if that may be causing the diffuse look.
  • Throughout the entire film, there are a few shots that are quite sharp, but overall, things seem pretty soft. Probably not a transfer issue. Lenses? The blimp again?
  • Minor criticism: There's a noticeable hair at one point on the bottom left corner of the screen, just as the nurse is prepping Alex for his first treatment. The film is presented at 1.66 on Blu-ray, the theatrical-release ratio according to IMDB, but I can't believe they wouldn't have fixed that before release
Any thoughts would be appreciated!
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#2 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 04:25 AM

Based on what I read about the making of the movie, I think a lot of the softness you noticed is the result of using available light with the fast wide lenses of the era and Kubrick's pronounced use of backlighting in many scenes. In the scene with the girl on the stage, it looks to me like actual diffusion was used. I think Kubrick also used diffusion in a number of scenes in Lolita and he used low-contrast filters in Barry Lyndon.

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
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#3 Joe Taylor

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 10:49 AM

Much of the show was shot with an Arri 2c and not just MOS. The big blimp is holding a IIc as well. Most of the wide shots were achieved with 9.8 Kinoptik. Those are pretty good lens and are still rehoused and used to the day. Otto Nemenz rents them out quite a bit.

I have the HDDVD version and was disappointed in the image quality too (compared to the Shining and 2001) it looks like VHS. It's likely the sources for the transfer were poor quality multi-generation copies.
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#4 Jason Debus

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 05:25 PM

I saw a 35mm print of A Clockwork Orange recently. I do remember some minor halation but nothing overly heavy. Overall the movie was sharp as a tack and what you would expect from spherical wide lenses, it held up extremely well on the big screen.
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#5 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 07:08 PM

Yes, I also saw the new 35mm print struck from the original neg's recently. Sharp as knives every single shot, except where some halation or glare was present, but seemed to be how it was shot rather than the print. Sharp and fine grained. A joy to watch indeed.
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