A beautiful restoration of a classic nineteen fifties 3-D film.
Granskad i USA den 25 april 2018
I received my Blu-ray 3-D disk of the Maze today and I just finished watching it. I've been looking forward to getting it for weeks and I couldn't wait to see it. I pre-ordered the disk from Amazon and they shipped it so it arrived on the official release date of 04/24/2018, which is today. That makes me one of the first regular customers to see this restored version on a Blu-ray 3-D disk. But, this is not the first time I've seen The Maze in 3-D. The first time I saw it in 3-D was 65 years ago, back in 1953. Let me begin by saying that the image restoration is flawless, thanks to the team of talented people at the 3D Film Archive in collaboration with Martin Scorsese and the Film Foundation. Originally released by Allied Artist, this 3-D disk was released by Kino Lorber at a reasonable price. The restoration, which is made from a 4K scan of the original left and right camera negatives looks as good today as it did the first time I saw it more than half a century ago. In addition to the film, the disk contains the original 3-D trailer and a short interview with Veronica Hurst, the lovely leading lady who was brought over from the UK just for this film. Veronica Hurst really did all the heavy lifting in the acting department, because Richard Carlson hardly had any lines. For most of the film all he had to do was stand around, tell her to go home, and look annoyed. I should mention that an attempt was made to re-create the original stereo sound on this disk. Although a three channel stereo soundtrack was used in select theaters back in 1953, it has been lost, so an attempt has been made to duplicate what it may have sounded like on this disk, and this brings me to my only complaint about this restoration. The soundtrack volume is so low that I had to turn the TV volume all the way up to 100 percent to hear the dialog. This could be due to the settings on my 3-D TV, or on my 3-D Blu-ray player, but I don't have this problem with my other 3-D Blu-ray disks. I swapped disks back and forth just to be sure it wasn't my equipment. However, I did buy a 3-D disk years ago where the sound wouldn't play on my equipment and in that case it did turn out to be an obscure setting in my TV set. The main reason why I wanted this film for my classic 3-D collection is because it was directed by William Cameron Menzies who directed Things To Come in 1936, which (in my opinion) is one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. I wasn't disappointed, because this film has some of the best stereoscopic photography of any film from the fifties that I've seen, and I've seen them all. The 3-D camera rig was custom made at Allied Artists studios, but I'm sure the masterful eye of William Cameron Menzies was responsible for the outstanding use of 3-D in this film. It's not the gimmick shots of things flying off the screen that I'm impressed by, it's the unique ability of stereo photography to reproduce the solid roundness of real people and real objects. Sure, a few things poked at the audience are fun once and awhile, but what I really look for in a first rate 3-D film is natural looking stereo photography where I can look into the screen as if it's a mirror reflecting images of real people and real objects. I also enjoy objects which are placed in front of the screen, but not necessarily thrown at the audience. If you want cheap 3-D thrills, then there is a shot of a bat flying off the screen, but those shots are kept to a minimum. One of the best examples of great stereo photography in this film is a withered tree with bare twisted branches that project out of the screen as the camera follows a car approaching the castle. Also, wonderful use is made of long halls in the castle and the walls of the maze. Even a shot of two women sitting at a table draws us into the many layers of depth in the picture, thanks to the careful placement of the camera. In fact, nearly every frame of this film is a perfect little stereoscopic work of art by Menzies that a person could sit and study for a long time if the the film suddenly stopped. This is one of the few 3-D films that were made in Black and White in the fifties. I believe Menzies decided to use Black and White film because it was the only way to get the deep shadows and dark film noir look he wanted for a horror film. The ASA of color motion picture film was so low in 1953 that the ability to shoot color in dim light was extremely limited. To be honest, I only buy these old films for the 3-D, because I hate the post converted 3-D films of today. 3-D gimmicks can be faked in post conversion, but the solid, natural look of faces in closeups is lost. People look like cardboard cutouts in post converted films. As far as I'm concerned, post converted 3-D is more phony looking than black and white films that have been colorized. So, when I bought The Maze I bought it for the 3-D, I didn't buy it for the story. However, I have to say that after all these years I still found the film to be entertaining. I've read that some people laugh out loud at the monster when he is finally shown, but I didn't have that reaction. The monster does look fake by today's standards, now that we have CGI, but it was typical of what they could do back in the fifties. I actually felt sorry for the so-called monster who was as afraid of the screaming women as they were of him. And, I thought it was sad that a creature that managed to survive for 200 years perished while trying to escape from some hysterical women. That's all I'll say about the monster, if you don't know what the monster is and plan to see the film, then I won't spoil it for you. All in all, this is a nice little atmospheric movie in the tradition of the "old dark house" mysteries and the restoration and 3-D is first class, except for the low sound. ADDITIONAL COMMENT ADDED ON 4/25: I'm adding this comment one day after my initial review, because I neglected to mention that a commentary track is included in the extras on this disk and I learned some interesting facts from the commentary, such as the fact that the film came from a book which was based on an actual legend about a real Scottish castle that was rumored to have a secret room built to hide a deformed aristocrat who was born too hideous to be seen by outsiders. The first time I watch a film (or re-watch a film I saw 65 years ago), I turn the commentary off so I can get the full experience of the film. For that reason, I didn't hear the commentary until I watched the film again today. One interesting thing about the commentary is that it does not suffer from the low audio of the film. I could hear the commentary with the volume set at fifty percent of full volume, which is how I listen to my other 3-D Blu-ray disks. Also, the main menu does not suffer from the low volume problem, so when the film switches from the movie back to the main menu the audio is ear-splitting, unless I remember to first lower the volume from full volume down to forty or fifty percent of full volume. As a test, I selected the mono sound track to see if it also has the low volume problem and it does. Only the main menu music, the commentary, the theater trailer, and the star's interview have a normal volume level. When the film is showing, the dialog is nearly impossible to understand unless the volume control is turned all the way up to full loudness. The low audio problem is why I only gave this restoration four stars out of five. I'd like to know if other people are experiencing this problem with this disk, so leave a comment if you have the same problem. There's one last comment I'd like to make about something I can't recall seeing in any other 3-D movie. The Maze has one scene which fades in on an out of screen effect. To the best of my recollection, it's nothing but the end of a table jutting out of the screen, but it's quite an unexpected and unusual 3-D effect that I've never seen in any other 3-D film.
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