An older Criterion Collection DVD release but "A Night To Re
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 12/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For advertising employee/writer Walter Lord, he has always been fascinated with the RMS Titanic since he was a young child. In 1955, Lord wrote a non-fiction book on the RMS Titanic, the largest ship at its time which hit an iceberg in 1912 and sank. Of the 2,200+ survivors, over 700 were saved and Lord was able to interview dozens of survivors for his book and the details that took place of what happened during the night of April 14, 1912.
From the time Lord wrote his book, nothing has been written about the Titanic since 1913. In 1953, there was a melodrama from Twentieth Century Fox titled "Titanic" but Lord, who has always been fascinated by the stories of what happened during the night of April 1912, wanted to prioritize his story of the Titanic on historical documents and first-hand accounts of survivors. A minute-by-minute record of what happened and not make a drama.
Not long after the book was published, the book received its adaptation and filming began in the United Kingdom with Roy Ward Baker ("Asylum", "The Monster Club") taking on the directorial role and a screenplay written by Eric Ambler ("The Cruel Sea", "The Purple Plain") and produced by William MacQuitty ("Street Corner", "The Happy Family", "The Informers").
The film crew was very concerned with authenticity that they used the actual blueprints of the Titanic to recreate the sets and survivors such as the Titanic's fourth officer Joseph Boxhal and ex-cunard Commodore Harry Grattidge worked as technical advisors. The film premiered in the UK and the US in 1958 and won a Golden Globe Award for "Best Foreign Film" and received mostly all positive reviews from critics.
"A Night to Remember" is a film that doesn't focus on any primary characters but focuses on what took place on the fateful night the Titanic sunk and over 1,500 died. The film highlights how people felt they were not in any harm because the Titanic was thought of as unsinkable.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"A Night to Remember" is featured in Black and White. For the most part, the 1958 film actually looks very good for the majority of the scenes. Some close-up scenes show its age and show the most dust and scratches. According to The Criterion Collection, "A Night to Remember" is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1:66:1. The digital transfer was created from a 35mm composite fine grain master. Granted restoration was done back in 1998, so as we have seen with what the Criterion was able to accomplish with their 1998 "Seven Samurai" release and their 2006 re-release, if Criterion chooses to re-release it, I have no doubt that we would see much more detail and a more pristine film.
But for the most part, the film does look good for being a film over 50-years-old. After being spoiled with James Cameron's 1997 "Titanic" film, I was a bit skeptical to see how the special effects of the recreation of the Titanic would look but to my surprise, the chaotic view of the boats moving away from the Titanic was actually well-created. Of course, the destruction and breaking at the center did not happen in this film (if I recall, more was learned of the Titanic and how it sunk was learned once the wreckage was discovered in the mid-80's) but there is a fair amount of destruction featured in "A Night to Remember".
The audio is featured in Dolby Digital, Monaraul. The film is center channel driven but for those with modern home theater receivers that can send sound to all channels, will probably prefer that audio setting (which I did).
"A Night to Remember" contains the following special features:
* Audio Commentary - Featuring audio commentary recorded in 1995 featuring Don Lynch (author) and Ken Marschall (illustrator) of "Titanic-An Ilustrated History". The duo talks about differences that were learned from recent discoveries of the Titanic, class distinction on the ship, the Californian controversy, how big a gash was on the site of the Titanic, the decision making of the crew, was their a mass panic?, the survivors that Lynch spoke to and more. A very enjoyable and informative audio commentary for those interested in the Titanic.
* The Making of "A Night to Remember" - (57:49) The making of "A Night to Remember" with interviews with original author Walter Lord, producer Walter McQuitty about his experiences when he saw the Titanic being built to making the film, the challenges they faced during filming and the success the film received in the UK and the US.
* Theatrical Trailer - (3:18) The original theatrical trailer.
* 4-page Insert - (1:42) The insert features a three-page writeup by Michael Sragow (reviewer for SF Weekly and formerly of the New Yorker) about "A Night to Remember" and the crew behind the film.
I have been wanting to watch this film for so many years and I know that for most people, they tend to compare the 1958 film "A Night to Remember" and the 1997 film "Titanic" and which film was better. Personally, I loved the "Titanic" when it was first released in theaters and watched it multiple times.
But of course, the two films are different. With James Cameron having modern technology at the time, 3 hours, an incredible amount of money to make the film and most of all, focusing on the characters and a dramatic film that would become one the highest earning films of all time. But with that being said, "A Night to Remember" was an incredible film when it was released. A film that would incorporate actual footage of the Titanic from 1912 to detailed information from the survivors, nothing like it had been done ever before. In fact, Before Walter Lord wrote his book, there was nothing written about the Titanic in over 40-years since 1912.
There was a melodrama film titled "Titanic" in 1953 but Lord captured in his book a minute-by-minute detail courtesy of the survivors he spoke to and the documents he was able to obtain. "A Night to Remember" used the actual blueprints of the Titanic as well. The film was not much about the characters but the ship and the people who were on the Titanic, the Carpathia and the Californian. A film that would pay respects to those who perished but also to acknowledge the positive that came out, in terms of rules and regulations and acknowledging that there was quite amount of human error that led to the Titanic's sinking. Warnings of icebergs that were not followed up on, a ship nearby who saw the emergency rockets but didn't take action until hours after the ship had sunk and a ship four hours away that came, although the damage was done and there were an incredible number of people who lost their lives.
It's obvious that James Cameron was inspired by "A Night to Remember" as certain scenes did make it to his film. But for the most part, the two films are quite different from one another. Again, "Titanic" focused more on the dramatic aspect and then using modern special effects of the sinking/breaking of the Titanic while "A Night to Remember" focused on the Titanic and its crew and people who were trying to survive, escape or just accepted their fate as well as the crew of the Carpathia and Californian. Special effects were solid for a film at that time and acting was very well done. "A Night to Remember" was a very good film and I was very impressed!
As mentioned in the video and audio portion, this is an older DVD release from 1998 and The Criterion Collection restoration and remastering has evolved greatly since then. With a few of their single digit titles earning a re-release (such as "The Lady Vanishing", "Amarcord" and "The Seven Samurai"), its unfortunate that "A Night to Remember" has not be re-released yet, especially with a good number of documentaries on the Titanic that have since aired after this film's release on DVD. But the DVD release does have a pretty awesome commentary track and an informative featurette included in this early Criterion Collection release. If you can find this DVD for a great deal, I definitely recommend checking it out!"
Not the best criterion
W. Hamilton | NSW Australia | 04/03/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The film is well worth seeing. Many say it is the best of the Titanic films, and I don't doubt it. Eric Ambler crafted a terrific screenplay from Walter Lord's well-regarded book and the production values are extremely high. However, the Criterion version - for its high price - is a let down. It is not a "pristine" transfer, as claimed on the case: there are several noticeable tears and other imperfections in the print from which it was taken. The sound is good and the overall print quality is good, but hardly worth the extra cost. There are no subtitles available. The special feature on the making of the film is interesting and worthwhile, but the commentary, by two American Titanic specialists, is not. Although this filmed version of the story is usually commended for being the most historically accurate, these gentlemen spend a good deal of time undercutting the film's accuracy and authenticity - without meaning the film any harm, I'd say, but just because they can't help themselves. In the process, they fail to watch the film carefully enough to realise they occasionally misrepresent what is on the screen. It is a cliche to say that the ship is the star of the film - and they do go on about the ship. But this is a film - and they seem to know little or nothing about film making."
Excellent and the Most Historically Accurate Adaptation
Andrew Raker | PA | 03/22/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most of what can be said about this adaptation of Walter Lord's "A Night to Remember" has already been said.
The film is excellent. There is no romantic story. This film focuses on the FACTS. It focuses on how many coincidences or 'what ifs' occurred. Most of the historic characters, like the unsinkable Molly Brown, are portrayed in this adaptation. Also, no major characters are added to this adaptation, which sets it apart from the 1953 "Titanic" and the two 1996 "Titanic" adaptations.
Since this 1958 adaptation was created, a few further pieces of information have been learned.
- The replica painting Mr. Andrew's stares at as Titanic sinks, actually was the painting that belonged in the Olympia.
- The film portrays the Titanic as sinking in one piece. We now know this is not what occurred.
However, I strongly recommend this film as interesting, informative, and quite accurate.
Also, the special features convey additional information about the film, the novel, and the actual historical event.