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Heroes of Telemark (1965)

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  • Heroes of Telemark (1965)

    HEROES OF TELEMARK (1965) was on BBC2 today and flagged as being in HD. If it was HD then I'm a monkey's uncle! Picture quality was abysmal; looking worse than standard definition and to add insult to injury it was shown in the wrong aspect ratio of 16:9. Only the titles were shown 2.35:1.

    For some reason the film has never looked good. I saw it when it premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square, Christmas 1965 and recall the picture looking poor then, compared to other films at that time. I think it was mainly financed independently which may have had something to do with it. I also expected the film to be so much better - despite the talent in front of and behind the camera, it was a very mediocre film.

  • #2
    There are a number of films and TV series that cover the raid, starting with a Norwegian/French co-production in 1948, and some more more recent TV series', including a documentary by Ray Mears and The Saboteurs with Anna Friel and Pip Torrens from a couple of years ago.

    Nick

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    • #3
      And best of the bunch is the Ray Mears documentary

      Appearing in it are some of the Norwegian "Heroes" that took part in the operation.

      Shame that it was all unnecessary because the Germans were nowhere near able to make an atomic bomb. But the allies didn't know that. It was still an amazing feat.

      Steve

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      • #4
        I was working and just saw it across the room on a 40in HD TV, but its didn't look that bad. However, I did catch a bit of it on a 4k set, which did it no favours, which was slightly surprising if it was an HD version (a decent 4K will make an HD source look pretty good). There is probably a very simple explanation - that film hasn't got a blu ray version. So unless there is an HD version not available to the public for the BBC to use, its got to find the best version it can, and then upscale.

        Thats not the end of the world - Dad's Army looks surprisingly good in HD, etc, but its limited in what it can do, even with the best SD transfer. BTW, the DVD has aspect ratios of 16:9 and 2.35:1 listed, but IMDB lists it as being shot in 2.20:1. I suspect they used the best SD version they could, and 16:9 was available. It would be interesting to see a HD version, but from watching it on TV in the past, it looked no worse than any other Hollywood film of the time, certainly not much different from Where Eagles Dare, and it was produced by Fisz, and distributed by Columbia in the US and Rank in the UK, and it was Kirk Douglas film, so wasn't exactly done on the cheap.

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        • #5
          I ran the 35mm version of The Heroes of Telemark in the 1960s. It was a 2.35:1 aspect ratio CinemaScope print with a Panavision credit. I don't think it was shot in 70mm, so where the 2.20:1 comes from, I don't know. But I have noticed that when such films are run on television, they try to make the picture fit the 16 x 9 shape of the average wide screen television screen as best they can and in so doing, they crop the image at the sides somewhat.
          Last edited by darrenburnfan; 16th April 2017, 07:07 AM.

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          • #6
            I watched about 10 minutes of it yesterday on BBC2 HD, but eventually gave up in disgust. The incorrect aspect ratio is always annoying, but the real killer was the truly terrible picture quality which the OP referred to.

            The worst of the weekend so far though was Channel 5's showing of 'Ben-Hur' on Friday. Again, abysmal image quality, but even worse was the panning and scanning of the original MGM Camera 65 aspect ratio of 2.76:1 down to 16:9.

            What's the use of buying a Hi-Def TV in order to watch such poor quality botched transmissions?

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            • #7
              I was having a discussion with a rep who used to work for The Cinema Store about aspect ratios yesterday (its wasn't the busiest day!), and we were looking at one of the new Star Trek films, which has both a 16x9 ratio and 2.35:1 (apparently one is normal cinema and one IMAX), which changed sequence by sequence! It was a bit annoying, although he thought it fine, but I have to admit it was surprisingly effective on 65in Panasonic upscaling from Blu Ray.

              What's the use of buying a Hi-Def TV in order to watch such poor quality botched transmissions?
              To be fair to broadcasters, I think that they sometimes have to take what they can get, and of course you havn't been able to buy anything but HD panels for over a decade (85% of sets in showrooms now are 4K), but it is annoying when they use SD quality transfers that really are not up to it, either in quality or aspect ratio terms. I think the least they can do is to show the correct aspect ratio (although we were running a ITV recorded version of Skyfall last week, which had been cropped for 16:9, although that wasn't too noticeable), but that depends on a version with the correct aspect ratio being available.

              BBC2 had LA Confidential on the other week, and that looked superb. The aspect rato was perfect (2.40:1), the blu ray transfer was lovely (shame that the price of the disc has gone up so much, because I would have bought it that day, although I did get an original promotion pack instead) and someone had obviously wanted to do it right. Since its one of my favourite films, I was glad that they did.

              I think the lesson is to complain to the broadcasters that care (Movies4Men generally doesn't), and put pressure on studios to get decent versions of their back catalogues. We live in a HD (and now 4K) world. Supplying a rubbish 20 year old SD version for TV isn't going to fly - if they want to make money out of their archive, they need to spend some so it looks good enough to show. We've long complained about the same thing with regard to Blu-rays, and its the same thing with TV/streaming. Often its the same version!

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              • #8
                Plus 1 vote for the Ray Mears three part series, its spot on and he's a lovely fella, I've done various Bushcraft courses with him a few years ago when he himself was still instructing.

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