Friday 4 November 2016

On Blu-ray - David Hare finds much enjoyment in William Cameron Menzies CHANDU THE MAGICIAN (USA, 1932)

Finally I have the VLC screencap software working again!

A gorgeous screen from William Cameron Menzies' opening montage for Chandu the Magician

From the new Kino Lorber Blu, using the same high contrast, albeit scratched source as Fox' older DVD. Some people are complaining about the "poor" quality of this current swathe of material from Fox's deep archive vaults to come out on Kino BD. Well, while they're not spanking new 2k full restorations done with the finesse of Shawn Belston's team, many of them, like this gem, look for the world like real 35mm film. 

Chandu's lunacies and nonsensical narrative, all derived from the post Universal "Mummy" craze by all the majors back in the early 30s simply play second fiddle to the visuals. All that counts here is Menzies' sumptuous, fluid, eye popping production design and costumes. Ably filmed with great mobility by co-director Marcel Vanel. Apart from Bela, one of the movies' most enduring actors, the heady spectacle of sets, costumes choreography and lighting (James Wong Howe) ultimately counts for everything.

I will remain a formalist to the day I die! Thus Chandu is infinitely more important and beautiful to me than a dozen Lewis Milestone message pictures.

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