Lawrence of Arabia superbit release

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by Raul Bloodworth, Sep 10, 2003.

  1. Anyone have it? Have tried local Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. to no avail.
    How's it look/sound?
    Raul Bloodworth, Sep 10, 2003
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  2. I've just skimmed it so far, but I'm very pleased.

    Robert Harris' involvement seems to have helped (unsurprisingly): the
    colours are a significant improvement over the previous releases, with
    bluer skies and less-pink fleshtones in many of the desert/daylight
    scenes. And the scoring error found in the train-walking scene on the
    older DVD -- a few bars of music repeat where they shouldn't, pushing
    the "march" theme off-sync with the picture -- has thankfully been

    The image seems sharper and more solid than on the previous release: I
    don't know whether that's an improvement from the higher bit-rate or
    whether they just a better job on this new transfer.

    A member of the Home Theater Forum has put up several comparison
    screenshots, which might help convey the visual differences. See this


    ....for the links.

    Columbia did one thing right with the split over two discs: unlike the
    older release, the Superbit's second disc just starts from black (no
    menu, no Columbia logo, no FBI warning). Excellent: that's how it
    should be done.

    I *do* wish the disc break could have occurred at the theatrical
    intermission, though: as it is, the film breaks partway through
    Lawrence's ride from Aqaba back to Cairo. Not the worst interruption
    point, but a bit jarring all the same.

    I'm holding on to the older release for its excellent DVD-ROM
    supplements and because I might -- if I were showing the film to a
    first-time viewer -- want to use it to let them experience the first
    act uninterrupted. But for my own viewing and reference, the Superbit
    edition is clearly superior.


    Douglas Bailey, Sep 10, 2003
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  3. Raul Bloodworth

    Dr. Shavers Guest

    Thanks for the excellent post Doug. I can't wait to pick this one
    up. god bless david Lean.
    Dr. Shavers, Sep 11, 2003
  4. Raul Bloodworth

    jayembee Guest

    Thanks for the review. I'd just picked it up this evening, and haven't
    had a chance to look at it yet. Up to now, I haven't bought a single
    Superbit release (well, except for PANIC ROOM, but that's because it
    was the only release), simply because most of the titles aren't ones
    that I really care to own in the first place, and for the others, the
    original transfers are good enough. LOA is the first time I felt that
    I *had* to get the best version possible, no matter what.

    -- jayembee
    jayembee, Sep 11, 2003
  5. It certainly does help! Thanks.
    Raul Bloodworth, Sep 11, 2003
  6. Raul Bloodworth

    Doonie Guest

    The colour is much more accurate and the detail is better - Too bad
    about the extra edge enhancement, though.
    Doonie, Sep 11, 2003
  7. I'm in more or less the same boat. I now own three Superbit titles:
    _Panic Room_ because it's the only release; _Das Boot_ because the
    original release was a very early flipper with some compression
    problems; and now _Lawrence_.

    But I'd substitute "the version with Robert A. Harris' input" for "the
    best version possible" as the reason for this third Superbit purchase.
    With Lean gone, Harris -- who restored _Lawrence_ to Lean's demanding
    specifications -- is the reigning authority on how the film is meant to
    look, and I think it was truly a shame that Columbia were unwilling to
    consult him for the original DVD release.

    Between his input and the new Columbia regime's willingness to go back
    to original elements, this new DVD is probably the most accurately-
    coloured version of the film ever released on home video. The Criterion
    laserdisc was the only previous edition done with input from Harris,
    but even it was limited by the need to work from a magenta-heavy print
    (which, AIUI, was all that the contemporary Columbia regime were
    willing to provide to Criterion: Columbia's own LD edition featured a
    less accurate transfer from a more accurate print).

    Of course, Columbia still spelled Harris' name incorrectly on the
    Superbit version, too: the small print on the back cover calls him
    "Robert A. Harns." Annoying, but an error in the cover doesn't affect
    the movie itself one bit.

    Douglas Bailey, Sep 11, 2003
  8. Raul Bloodworth

    Scot Gardner Guest

    <<The colour is much more accurate and the detail is better - Too bad
    about the extra edge enhancement, though.>>

    They made all of those improvements and then added edge enhancement?
    Edge enhancement artifacts will be just as hard for me to deal with as
    the off-color, less-accurate original DVD.

    Did Columbia let Universal do the new _Lawrence of Arabia_ DVD?
    Scot Gardner, Sep 11, 2003
  9. Yes, they should certainly have consulted him, though I can't say I'm a
    hundred percent confident about all of Harris' choices (which I suppose
    is a knock on Lean himself, to the extent he personally approved Harris'
    work). For example, the scene in Feisal's tent always looked off-color
    to me in Harris' restoration. Did Lean prefer/approve such odd
    fleshtones? Nor has the Omar Sharif entrance/mirage scene at the well
    looked quite right in any of the Harris iterations. Very pale and
    yellowish. Same with the scene where Lawrence informs Ali that he wants
    to cross the Nefud. No doubt some or all of these aberrations may have
    been due to limitations in the source material, but color correction is
    the objective here, isn't it?
    The new version is way superior to the first DVD in terms of color, and
    certainly is a far better match to the laserdiscs created with Harris'
    input, though questions of absolute color fidelity remain, as discussed
    above. It also has had some digital cleanup applied, which was missing
    in the first DVD, and of course in the laserdiscs. (Take a look, for
    example, at the binocular shots in the scene with Lawrence and his guide
    early in the film: a lot of dirt/specks have been banished; the opening
    title sequence is also improved beyond recognition: much cleaner and
    sharper, and the cloudy white flaring of the text is gone.) The result
    is much more filmlike and three-dimensional. Even the side-by-side
    screenshot comparisons that have been posted at DVD File don't really
    convey the degree of improvement: it's one of those things where you
    really need to watch the disc straight through to appreciate it (not to
    mention some of those screenshots look off-color to me vis-a-vis the new
    My understanding was that the Columbia and Criterion editions were for
    all intents and purposes identical visually. Was this not the case?
    No, it sure doesn't.

    The one big boo-boo here is the edge enhancement, in the form of a white
    halo around objects, not always visible, but annoying and distracting
    when it is. Why, oh why did they feel it necessary to add this to the
    otherwise superb visuals?

    Incidentally, regarding the sound, although I don't have any kind of
    surround set-up, I do note that the soundtrack has been filtered on top,
    similar (or identical) to the previous DVD. To my ears, the
    best-sounding version of the Lawrence soundtrack has always been that on
    the Harris-derived laserdisc editions, which has plenty of hiss, but
    also much more air, ambience, high-frequency extension, and
    dimensionality than is evident on the later hiss-free versions.

    All told, the new disc is easily the best-looking version of the film on
    home video to date, though the "halos" are a major fly in the ointment.

    If you love the film and have the hardware to appreciate the
    improvements, you really do need the new disc.

    Mitchell Kaufman, Sep 11, 2003
  10. [laserdisc editions of _Lawrence_]
    That's not the story I've heard: see the first two paragraphs of the
    review at <> for one source. (I own the
    Criterion CLV set, but I've never seen the image from the Columbia LD
    edition, so my information is secondhand.)

    According to RAH's article on The Digital Bits, "It has been confirmed
    that there [is] no new electronic sharpening."


    There's been some speculation that the halos are caused by Columbia's
    video encoder itself, rather than added in the transfer stage as the
    result of edge enhancement or other sharpening processes.

    Douglas Bailey, Sep 11, 2003
  11. Raul Bloodworth

    Goldfinger Guest

    I wanted to upgrade to the superbit version and was planning on selling my
    previous 2 Disc cloth version no Ebay. However, Ebay prices on the cloth
    version sucks ranging from $10-$15 only. Anybody know why this OOP delux
    edition is not fetching good money on Ebay?
    Goldfinger, Sep 11, 2003
  12. I find that content is more important than packaging on Ebay sales.
    The cloth box is nice but the film is readily are

    . Steve .
    Steve(JazzHunter), Sep 11, 2003
  13. My "source" is a vague recollection of a Perfect Vision interview with
    Harris at the time of the release of the LDs. Conversely, I've seen the
    Columbia LD and neither of the Criterions; the "word in the street" at
    the time was that they were all essentially the same. I can try to
    locate the TPV interview, but given my "random access" filing system,
    that may be hoping for too much.
    Sounds disturbingly like "no new taxes." ;-)

    According to Harris, IIRC, two layers of edge enhancement had been
    removed for this transfer. Apparently there were three.
    Whatever the reason (and yes, it would be interesting to ascertain it),
    it does kind of cast a pall over what is otherwise a superlative video

    At any rate, I'm now happy to say that I can enjoy watching the film
    without constantly futzing with the video settings. (Contrast and
    brightness are also much better-judged and consistent throughout the new

    Mitchell Kaufman, Sep 11, 2003
  14. Raul Bloodworth

    jayembee Guest

    FWIW, that's my recollection as well.
    I'll see if I can dig out my copy.

    -- jayembee
    jayembee, Sep 11, 2003
  15. Raul Bloodworth

    Joshua Zyber Guest

    The fact of the two different transfers is corroborated at:
    Joshua Zyber, Sep 12, 2003
  16. The one big boo-boo here is the edge enhancement, in the form of a white
    Doesn't this EE supposedly manifest itself more in 2.35:1 transfers than 1.85:1
    from Columbia? 2.20:1 is close enough to the former.

    Although it could very well be the case, I find it odd that professional studio
    equipment or software would automatically add sharpening, without a way of
    manually turning it off.

    Remove "moc" to reply.

    Whoever says "Nothing is impossible" has never tried to slam a
    revolving door.
    - Willy Walker
    Sydney Assbasket, Sep 12, 2003
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