Top critical review
An extra "ghost" in box 5 on the Milestone 2-disc set
on October 22, 2003
For starters, I agree with all the positive things said about this 2-disc set.
Unfortunately, there a couple of things about the discs that just spoiled the whole experience for me and may do so with you.
First, there is a "motion blur" or "ghosting" artifact that runs throughout the 1929/30 restoration. It looks similar to what a transfer from PAL video format to NTSC video format looks like only more exaggerated (images appear to be overlapped or double--sometimes triple--exposed). During the unmasking, Chaney's face is unnecessarily blurred, even when using freeze frame and stepping through the scene frame by frame.
Milestone has acknowledged the "ghosting", attributing it to adjusting the frame rate of the film during transfer from video master to video master. Incidentally, the original video master was in PAL format and was converted to NTSC for US, but Milestone claims PAL to NTSC was not the cause. Since they performed the additional restoration/picture cleaning on the overly "ghosted" transfer, it became a trade-off as to whether to present the cleaned up version or the "unghosted" version. Why such extensive restoration was done to a video master with excessive motion blur is beyond me.
For some folks, this will be a minor thing. For others, it will be very distracting and cast a dark cloud over what looks like to be the cleanest 'print' of this movie in existence. I will be keeping the other Image DVD edition with the David Shepherd restoration.
Secondly, for the special features, the pause, fast forward, and reverse functions have been disabled. This can be a bit of a nuisance. For example, there is a 21 minute "restored version" of the films' original premiere utilizing stills and expository text. This I was excited about. However, unless you are a speed reader, you won't be able to read everything in one viewing. You can't pause it, or "rewind" to read what you missed. It is like trying to enjoy a book (both text and pictures) with someone else turning the pages for you. If you miss something, you have to start over from page one and go through again.
Again, some of you won't care about the motion blur one iota. Others will feel as I do: This disc should've been a contender but instead, it feels like a missed opportunity.