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The Scarlet Empress (The Criterion Collection)
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
- The 1996 BBC documentary The World of Josef von Sternberg
- Production stills archive
- Von Sternberg tribute by underground filmmaker Jack Smith
- Liner notes by film historian Robin Wood
Top Customer Reviews
Then I hit the PLAY button.
My disappointment was beyond words. What we saw was anything but "luminous". It was more like watching a colony of flesh-eating bacteria, wandering all round Marlene Dietrich's face, and a swarm of locusts chewing up the scenery. I kept waitng for everything to calm down, so we could really see the beauty of the film. Occasionally, that happened. But by and large, this was a big let-down.
I've seen excellent transfers before, and own them. "Grand Illusion" and "The Seven Samurai" are marvelous examples. But this was nowhere near those efforts. The specks and flecks were too distracting, to fully enjoy this masterpiece. And that's a shame, considering the other otherwise great reputation Criterion has had, in terms of image quality.
I'm a little confused about how one customer could say "...the print is stunning". (Maybe that person was "stunned" by how bad it looked.) I sympathize more with the reviewer who thought that Criterion should be held accountable for its mediocre duplication of this film, and the false advertising. You got it right! Five stars for the film, and the Robin Wood essay. One star for the transfer.
I could hardly wait to open this DVD after I was soundly impressed by Criterion's Third Man disc with it's great print and oodles of extras...
Unfortunately this disc has proved the most disappointing DVD I have ever purchased. Alleged to be "A luminous transfer, with restored picture and sound" this only is the case if the restorers were trying to reproduce the standard of a third generation VHS tape. With countless missing frames and splices, frequent audio drops and sizzles and a picture grain which looks like you're watching the film through sand, this is not what I expect from Criterion.
Considering the only other Dietrich movie on DVD - the so-so Garden of Allah - is a gorgeous transfer at a bargain price, this is a huge let down.
Considering most film collectors purchase Criterion DVD's on the strengh of the label alone this is an outrage that they can release such a low quality disc with such a little amount of extra features to compensate...which was the least they could have done.
Anyone who disagrees, or feels this may now be the best quality print on offer should take a look at the Martin Scorsese/BFI series "A Personal Journey Through American Movies". There you'll find a some gorgeous clips of the Scarlet Empress with sharp audio and virtually perfect picture (no horrible "dupe print" grain or frame damage like this DVD). The film simply shimers. Presumably this was a BFI print, but it may have been from Paramount - either way, a far better print exists and therefore I'm sad to say that this is proof that Criterion have rather short-changed the buying public this time around.
Still, it's better than not having it on DVD at all, isn't it?
Director von Sternberg throws "historical accuracy" to the winds in order to produce a baroque fantasia filmed in the most stylized manner imaginable, and laced with doses of perversion so bold one wonders how they got past the censors. The film races along in a succession of deliriously stylized set-pieces: hordes of galloping Cossacks; the incredible wedding and drunken banquet that follows; and the apocalyptic coup, led by Catherine in a man's white dress uniform, while "Ride of the Valkeries" blasts on the soundtrack. Von Sternberg's peerless visual style is given free reign, and the results are extraordinary. The lighting and photography are gorgeous, especially in the stunningly beautiful wedding sequence, and Travis Banton's costumes lovingly recreate the decadent grandeur of 18th Century fashion. Most incredible of all are the sets representing the palace at Moscow. These cavernous, candle-lit rooms are stuffed with glittering icons and grotesque statues.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I purchased the Universal Cinema Classics version, presently only available new in PAL, Region 2, 4 & 5 format. Obviously I have a Multi-Region/PAL decoding DVD player. Read morePublished 5 months ago by bearclawthedonut
Marlene Dietrich plays Catherine the Great of Russia to the hilt, almost to the point of parody. But, she manages to pull it off. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Dennis J. McCarn
Drawn largely from the scrupulously detailed and surprisingly candid journals of Catherine II (The Great), 18th century Empress of Russia, the film was confected by Josef von... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Carol Miller
CD WAS CRACKED SO WOULD NOT PLAY - RETURNED IT FOR AN EXCHANGE. THANK YOU. I DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING MORE TO SAY!Published 23 months ago by JIM WELCH
If you go to the DVD Beaver website, you can see comparisons between the U.S. Criterion release of this film and the French Universal release of this film. Read morePublished on October 8, 2013 by What's in a name?
I Love this Marlene Dietrich Movie ~ Love, Adventure ,and Intrigue abound in this Biography of Catherine the Great~ Great Movie ! 5 StarsPublished on September 22, 2013 by Linda Derych
Very disappointed. Grade c film. Would like to resell if possible. Plot was weak and setting were poor. I like Dietrich but this has to be one of her worst films.Published on December 29, 2012 by Rae