Re: guy debord film retrospective:

From: Philip Hood (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Mar 06 2006 - 14:03:50 PST

On Sat, 4 Mar 2006, Keith Sanborn wrote:

> ... And by the way, this first edition of the Debord boxset leaves
> a lot to be desired in terms of its technical quality. See my review
> in the February Artforum in your local library for the details.

         hi, I did run over to the MoMA (I'm working now
         just a few blocks away) and pick up a copy
         of ArtForum and read it during lunch (They
         still had February's on the counter of the
         2nd floor bookstore). Keith's
         article is indeed interesting and I urge
         you all to pick it up, to read the
         other parts of it - if you have the time
         and resources.

         I hope this doesn't run
         afoul of any fair-usage anything, but I did
         take the time to key in the few paragraphs
         where he gets technical about some of the
         problems he alludes to in the above snip. I'm
         going to share them with you right now.



Keith Sanborn, Return of the Supressed
ARTFORUM - February 2006, p. 189/190

... Optical sound tracks always have a snap-crackle-pop,
and prints never have enough density to erase the borders
of the frame. The new digital copy of "Howlings" radically
minimizes these problems and actually corrects a "deficiency"
of the original: Because the sound track of a 16-mm film
is physically offset by twenty-six frames - about a second
ahead of the picture - there is no way to achieve exact
synchronization of white screen with speech and the
erasure of the frame with silence without making a copy, so
when Debord's film was originally projected, each passage
of sound would start about a second after the screen went
to white and would overlap for about a second with the
black that would follow. While filmmakers might argue
that this "correction" changes the original experience of
the film, it does bring the current version into conformity
with Debord's script, which is explicit on this point.

         Accordingly, this electronic version represents the
first time the work would have been screened according to
Debord's design - were it not for one small problem: Seven
of the last twenty-four minutes of silence and darkness
specified in the script have gone missing. While seventeen
minutes of silence and darkness will suffice for most
people "to get the idea," it's as much a matter of experience
as concept. And even conceptually, twenty-four is a "magic"
number for filmmakers, because sound films fun at twenty
four frames a second and Debord specified the exact length
of this passage each time the script was published.

         No one involved in the DVD was aware of this problem.
Inquires to Assayas resulted in the discovery that a
technician at Gaumont had been misled by a mislabeling
of the master film-to-tape transfer. This could be
considered an almost metaphyisical blemish on the
extraordinary labor to bring this effectively invisible
work ot a wider public.

         Unfortunately, those seven minutes are not all that
remains invisible.

         The "Socieity of the Spectacle" is missing five of
Debord's subtitles and shows changes in the quality of
the audio and instability in the still images in the
film. "Refutation" also suffers errors in the subtitling.
The entire sound track of "In girum" is a second ahead of
the picture and there is a kind of stutter between the
main titles and the first image. "Critique" shows very
un-Debord-like single-frame stutters and may have
incorrectly placed subtitles. All the films suffer from
timing that blows out the highlights, eliminating
some information that can be seen on the CANAL+ broadcast,
which used vintage prints. Only "On the Passage" and
"Guy Debord: His Art and His Time" completely escape
significant technical mishandling. Fortunately, Assayas
is now working with Gaumont to address these issues in
a second edition. Once these technical issues are
resolved, we can hope for an English-subtitled
version; this first edition is Region 2, PAL, french
language only. While the defects are serious enough
that this edition cannot be considered definitive,
it is not by its technical limitations that this
edition should primarily be judged ...

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.