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DVD Shopping Bag: Citizens Kane and Star Wars Blu-rays

Their boxes do battle!

By Robert T. Trate     September 20, 2011

 

With this week being an oh-hum list of dull titles (the best of which being Dumbo) I thought we would look back at the previous week’s titles. Two huge movies arrived on Blu-ray for the first time ever last week. Star Wars the complete Saga arrived with all the bells and new whistles George Lucas wanted to add. The other was what many critics consider to be the greatest movie of all time: Citizens Kane.  
 
Citizen Kane is Orson Well’s crowning achievement. At the time, it was unprecedented for its techniques in filmmaking and storytelling. Many critics, film aficionados, and people who make lists of movies consider this to be the greatest ever made. I am not one of them. I hadn’t seen Citizen Kane in over ten years and decided to give this 70th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition a whirl. The Blu-ray transfer is incredible. Kudos should go to Mel Berns and his makeup department. More often than not, makeup from yesteryear looks shoddy on Blu-ray. A prime example of this is the makeup on Father Merrin in The Exorcist (see column). Here, Wells and his co-stars age beautifully and with a seamless wonder. To be honest, I barely remember the story of Citizen Kane itself from all those years ago. I know that journalists are trying to find out exactly what Kane’s (Orson Wells) last words meant. Kane’s life unravels before us (out of sequence) and we are left waiting and wondering exactly who or what “Rosebud” was. The key to fully appreciating Citizen Kane is to understand the history and controversy behind the film. Wait, to understand the movie I have to know history and back story to a film that is over 70 years old? Granted writer/ director Richard Kelly does this with all his films, especially Southland Tales (2006), with comics and short stories. We all know how that turned out. But this is Citizens Kane, the greatest movie of all time. Shouldn’t it stand on that leg alone, just being a movie?  
 
To further illustrate how great this movie is, Warner Brothers has included everything you need. “The Battle over Citizen Kane” a 1995 Documentary and the 1999 movie RKO 281 are included as well. I thought about watching these first but, again, shouldn’t the movie stand on its own? I watched the film, just the film, and outside of marveling at Wells’ techniques and camera tricks I thought the story was good. Obviously I knew what Rosebud was, long before I ever watched Citizens Kane. Hell, I even know where Joe Dante put it in his film The Burbs (1989). As a story and film itself, Citizen Kane is a treat on the eyes but it leaves you unfulfilled. In short, it is a once and done picture.
 
What have I have to give full appreciation to is Warner Brother’s treatment of the Blu-ray. Everything is present here and no detail has been left to chance. The interior white cover case of the Blu-ray and 2 DVDs has a puzzle piece pattern behind the title. Lobby cards and posters from different countries are housed inside a cardboard replica of Rosebud. A hard cover book loaded with storyboards, premiere, and behind the scenes photos is collected here. This is everything a fan could want from “the greatest movie of all time”. Check out the box set here at the Warner Archive.
 
What many people on this site consider to be the greatest movie of all time finally came out on Blu-ray, too. The complete Star Wars Saga arrived on Blu-ray last Friday. The films have been changed once again by George Lucas. I believe that a lot of our collective joy was dampened when this news was let out. Did he really need to tweak them again? I know a lot of you have already voiced your opinions on the Star Wars articles and columns Mania has done over the past few weeks. I agree with most of you. I had a different gripe this week for the Star Wars Blu-rays. It may go unnoticed by some but this box set is, design wise, terrible. Having it sit next to Citizen Kane for the past few days, I really began to take notice. I’ll be the first to admit it: Lucas has tons of books and paraphernalia for Star Wars so lobby cards and behind the scene photos seem a bit redundant. What I find incredibly disappointing is the interior and exterior art work. Outside of the symbolic Tatooine passing of Luke and Anakin on the cover, the rest are unoriginal water colors of scenes from the films. It looks like if you would scrape it away, the real photo would be underneath. I love the page for the first bonus disc as it features Boba Fett by Ann Hanson (featured in Star Wars Art: Visions as well). However, other than that page, it lacks any sort of a “wow” factor. Obviously, I am not a fan of Citizen Kane but that box set has regalness to it. The Star Wars box design seemed almost like an after thought. It is set up just like Fox’s Alien Anthology Blu-ray only that was incredibly dark, twisted and loaded with HR Giger designs. This would have been a perfect place for Ralph McQuarrie and Doug Chiang’s concepts and designs. These films are very different but a film like Star Wars needs to have that care and artistry put into something as simple as the box.
 
To be honest, I haven’t even watched the Blu-rays of the Star Wars films yet. The bonus discs with their special features and documentaries are what I really wanted. The memories are all rushing back as I used to sit back with my childhood friends and watch these. I loved marveling at the works of Stuart Freeborn, Phil Tippett, Dennis Muren, and Ben Burtt. To me, those guys are as much a part of Star Wars as George Lucas. It’s great to hear their thoughts on the classic films.
 
Last note: Thankfully Star Wars did not come out close to 50th Anniversary of Ben-Hur on Blu-ray. That box set is up next for the DVD Shopping Bag and it looks amazing.
 
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
 
Accidental Spy Starring Jackie Chan and Eric Tsang
American Ninja/Revenge of the Ninja Starring Michael Dudikoff and Sho Kosugi
Blades of Blood Starring Seong-Hyeon Baek and Kim Chang-Wan
 
Breakheart Pass / Valdez Is Coming Starring Charles Bronson and Burt Lancaster
 
Captain America (the one you don’t one)
 
Death Wish 2/Death Wish 3/Deathwish 4/Assassination Starring Charles Bronson, Deborah Raffin, Jill Ireland and Kay Lenz
The Lone Ranger Starring Jay Silverheels, Clayton Moore and John Hart
 
Missouri Breaks/Doc Starring Faye Dunaway, Harris Yulin, Jack Nicholson
 
The River Murders Starring Ray Liotta, Ving Rhames, Christian Slater and Gisele Fraga
 
Set Up Starring Bruce Willis and Ryan Phillippe
Set Up [Blu-ray]
 
The Sword With No Name (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Starring Soo-Ae, Cho Seung-Woo, Cheon Ho-Jin and Choi Jae-Woong
 
Tajomaru: Avenging Blade (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray] Starring Hiroki Matsukata, Shun Oguri and Yuki Shibamoto
 
ANIME
 
Amagami SS Collection 1 (S)
 
Chrysanthemum
 
Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya [Blu-ray] Starring Tomokazu Sugita, Yuko Goto, Minori Chihara
 
Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
 
D.N. Angel: the Complete Series Boxset Starring Hilary Haag and Kevin Corb
 
Lady Death [Blu-ray]
 
Vampire Knight Guilty: Complete Series
 
CARTOONS
 
Dumbo (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack in Blu-ray Packaging) Starring Sterling Holloway, Edward Brophy, James Baskett
 
Dumbo
 
Spongebob's Runaway Roadtrip
Spongebob Squarepants Two-Pack (Lost at Sea / Tales From the Deep)
 
CLASSICS
 
A Bridge Too Far Starring Siem Vroom and Wolfgang Preiss
 
Black Tent, The Starring Anthony Steel, Donald Sinden, Anna Maria Sandri
 
Breakfast at Tiffany's (50th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray] Starring Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal
Flame In The Streets Starring John Mills, Sylvia Syms, Brenda De Banzie and Earl Cameron
Riddle Of The Sands, The Starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Simon MacCorkindale
 
Yesterday Today and Tomorrow Starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni
 
COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style
 
Bridesmaids Starring Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph
 
Bridesmaids (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy in Blu-ray Packaging)
 
Casino Royale (1967) [Blu-ray] Starring David Niven, Woody Allen, Peter Sellers and Orson Welles
 
Scary Movie 2 [Blu-ray] Starring Marlon Wayans and Anthony Acker
 
Scary Movie 3 (Unrated Version) [Blu-ray] Starring Charlie Sheen
 
Criterion Collection
 
Le Beau Serge (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] Starring Gerard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michele Meritz
 
Le Beau Serge (Criterion Collection)
 
Les cousins (Criteron Collection) [Blu-ray] Starring Gerard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Juliette Mayniel
 
Les cousins (Criterion Collection)
 
HORROR
 
Blue Sunshine Starring Zalman King, Deborah Winters and Mark Goddard
 
ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 (Unrated) [Blu-ray] Starring Thomas Dekker, Owain Yeoman, Brian Austin Green
 
ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 (Unrated)
 
Dead End Drive-In Starring Ned Manning and Natalie McCurry
Dead Heat [Blu-ray] Starring Treat Williams, Joe Piscopo and Vincent Price
 
Descent (R-Rated Version) Starring Chad Faust, Rosario Dawson and Marcus Patrick
Devil Within Her (aka I Don't Want to be Born) (1976) Starring Joan Collins, Caroline Munro, Katarina Leigh Waters
 
Final Exam (1981) (remastered edition) Starring Cecile Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice, Katarina Leigh Waters
 
Flowers in the Attic Starring Kristy Swanson, Victoria Tennant and Louise Fletcher
 
Friday the 13th Deluxe Edition Four-Pack
 
George Romero Presents Deadtime Stories Vol. 2 Starring George A. Romero
 
The Initiation Starring Daphne Zuniga, Vera Miles, Hunter Tylo and lu Gulager
 
Maria's B-Movie Mayhem: Haunted
 
Mountaintop Motel Massacre Starring Bill Thurman and Anna Chappell
Muckman Starring Ana McIntyre, Danielle Donahue and Alison Whitney
 
My Bloody Valentine [Blu-ray] Starring Paul Kelman, Neil Affleck and Keith Knight
Paranormal Haunting: The Curse of the Blue Moon Inn
The Others [Blu-ray] Starring Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston
 
Ratline Starring Emily Haack, Jason Christ, Sarah Swofford
 
Savage Starring Martin Kove, Tony Becker and Lisa Wilcox
Secrets In The Walls Starring Jeri Ryan, Peyton List, Kay Panabaker
 
Slugs Starring Michael Garfield and Kim Terry
The Stuff Starring Michael Moriarty, Paul Sorvino and Danny Aiello
Vamp [Blu-ray] Starring Grace Jones, DeDee Pfeiffer and Chris Makepeace
 
Vamp
 
The Vineyard Starring James Hong and Karen Witter
 
We Are the Night Starring Karoline Herfurth, Jennifer Ulrich and Nina Hoss
 
Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption Starring Johnny Gel, Fred Williamson and Alicia Clark
 
SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY
 
Aliens vs. Avatars Starring Cassie Fliegel, Jason Lockhart, Kim Argetsinger
 
Area 51 (After Dark Original) Starring Bruce Boxleitner and Jason London
 
After Dark Original: Area 51
 
Donnie Darko/S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale [Blu-ray] Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Holmes Osborne
 
Mars Starring Shari Belafonte, Olivier Gruner and Alex Hyde-White
 
TV LAND
 
Body of Proof: The Complete First Season Starring Dana Delany, Jeri Ryan and Nic Bishop
 
Castle: The Complete Third Season Starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic
 
Happy Endings: The Complete First Season Starring Zachary Knighton, Elisha Cuthbert and Damon Wayans Jr.
 
Hawaii Five-0: The First Season Starring Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park
 
Hawaii Five-O: The Eleventh Season Starring Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Herman Wedemeyer and Fred Ball
 
Law & Order: Los Angeles - The Complete Series Starring Corey Stoll, Terrence Howard, Alfred Molina
The Mentalist: The Complete Third Season Starring Simon Baker and Robin Tunney
 
Mike & Molly: The Complete First Season Starring Melissa McCarthy, Billy Gardell and Swoosie Kurtz
Modern Family: The Complete Second Season Starring Ed O'Neill, Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara and Ty Burrell
 
Modern Family: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray]
 
BOX SETS
 
Sophia Loren: Award Collection [Blu-ray] (Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow / Marriage Italian Style / Sunflower / Vittorio D / Boccaccio '70) Starring Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg
 
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings, Cosplay photos and film criticisms.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 14
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Hobbs 9/20/2011 5:54:03 AM

Rob, you should have had a star wars picture in the header, more people would have checked in.

Well, I have the star wars blu-ray and for my mania friends who know how much I was against buying it for the listed price...please be aware it was a gift from my wife and she had a 50 dollar gift card from best buy last xmas that she hadn't used yet so I can live with what she ended up spending on it.

My impressions of the blu-ray without commenting on the dumb changes Lucas made.  The movies have never looked or sounded better, talking about old trilogy haven't seen the prequels yet.  The boxes around the special effects are gone and wow is all I can see to how clear and colorful everything looks.  My guess is that the prequels look just as good considering the movies are not that old.

Now for the extras which I was the first thing I went to once I opened the set.  First of all, no holiday special but there is the Bobba Fett cartoon from that special easter egg.  To find the nine-minute cartoon, go to the Original Trilogy bonus disk, go to the Pursued by the Imperial Fleet section, click on The Collection and then check out the Boba Fett Prototype Costume where you'll find the cartoon in First Look.

For the extras themselves, big dissappointment.  I like the deleted scenes, I really did but where the heck is the rest?  Oh yeah, they are on the other DVD's he released a few years ago.  I read somewhere that Lucas didn't want to put all the material on one disc thus take something away from the people who bought the sets a few years ago. For a man who loves to double and triple dip I found that odd.  Also, unless I missed it they really needed to have a play all section for the deleted scenes.  Then we get to the documentaries, which are all the old ones from the 70's on.  I liked that these were on there but where is Empire of Dreams?  Oh yeah, that's on the other DVD's he released a few years ago.  What about something new?  Except for a 30 min interview about Empire there isn't anything except spoofs.  There is an hour and half of spoofs of star wars over the last 30 years. Some of it was funny but I wish they would have had a way to break it down by chapters so you can skip the ones you don't think are funny.

Overall, for 3 disc of extras they could have probably fit it all on 1 or 2 blu-ray thus it was a marketing ploy to boost the price...which really doesn't surprise me.  This really could have been the ultimate star wars set but alas they left a lot off this set so they can probably release that ultimate edition somewhere down the line. 

If Lucas would have included the original trilogy without the mistakes he did to them I would have said the discs were worth it but unless you really want the deleted scenes I would recommend buying the movies only and save the money.  The extras are not worth it and In a few days, if not already, all those deleted scenes will be avail on utube.  If you can stand the changes get the movies only just for the blu-ray quality.

 

Hobbs 9/20/2011 7:25:29 AM

I have never been able to make it through Kane without falling asleep and I tried several times.  Doesn't mean that it sucks but just not my cup of tea.  I've talked to film students who say it's very helpful to them in that sense but for greatest movie, not on my list either.

Looking forward to your Ben Hur review, been wondering about the blu-ray.

Inferno 9/20/2011 7:49:10 AM

Heh, Citizens Kane? Good movie but sadly, like Hobbs, there's not many people today that would watch and enjoy these black and white classics. Is that a crime? I don't think so. What is? Charging an arm and a leg for them.

shac2846 9/20/2011 7:55:45 AM

 I have had to watch Citizen Kane in all but only a few of my film classes. Yeah, it's not for everybody but if you were interested in making movies yourself you would understand that this is basically a bible on how to tell visual narratives. They really broke ground on lighting, cinematography, and as the reviewer stated the make-up is still state of the art even on it's high def blu-ray transfer (they had to age Well's and many of the cast it was way ahead of its time). It is really cool that they included the film RKO 281 as a bonus. It's an entire movie with Liev Schrieber and John Malkovich about all the real life controversy surrounding Kane. With all the additional extras it sounds worth it. A lot of people say that it isn't there cup of tea and I totally get that, but before people start commenting about it being a snooze fest (in general Hobbs not talking about you as I'm sure there are bound to be a ton of comments about how stupid and boring it is) it isn't any more of snooze fest than 2001 a space oddysey and we know how influential that was on future genre filmmakers. 

Also Hobbs, was the Bobba Fett animated short the only thing really new on the star wars boxed set? That's kind of cool but not worth buying the whole set. What are the deleted scenes?

jedibanner 9/20/2011 7:56:18 AM

CK IS the best movie of all time but you have to lookat it from a point of view of photography, looks, camera shots, stage, etc... . It was the first to bring the kind of images we see today in movies, TV, even theatre. It's impact is so grand in all that we watch today and the story telling itself is just amazing.

I'm still waiting for my delivery of BR star wars and, as much as I want to see all the special bonuses and documentaries, just to learn that the picture is amazing and the sound is the best out there, that makes it worth while for me.

Obviously the changes are not what is best in my view but, what can we do.

keithdaniel 9/20/2011 9:13:42 AM

Shac, if you want a good list of most if not all of the known deleted scenes from the Star Wars saga then go to Wikipedia and punch in Star Wars Special Edition and scroll down to the deleted scenes where you'll see a large list, some of which I put in myself some time ago!  I watched a handful of these scenes on youtube so check them out!

LadyBrowncoat 9/20/2011 9:20:16 AM

 I remember watching Citizen Kane for the first time expecting it to be a scholarly example of good film making.  Instead of paying attention to brilliant technical details, I was ENGROSSED in the story.  Top notch story telling, period.

Hobbs 9/20/2011 9:22:54 AM

Shac, I won't even put Kane in the snooze fest category.  If you read the synopis of the movie it sounds interesting story wise.  The first part of it didn't keep me interested enough to stay awake.  Where 2001, yes boring at times, kept you interested until it took the acid trip towards the end.  I recognize both movies importance to cinema as a whole so I wouldn't bash either one.

The deleted scenes for the prequels are actually kind of lame, except part 3 had a few interesting ones with Anakin killing another Jedi...I more remember the original trilogy scenes, an early Cantina scene where Han has a girlfriend sitting with him before Ben and Luke get to the table.  What's kind of cool about it is that if you want to see Han shoot first, it ends with that scene.  There was a scene of Luke working on the farm and notices the Star Destroyer battle with the blockade runner, just flashes in the sky, he runs to tell his friends but by that time the battle was over and they think Luke is a loser.  There is also a shot of Luke talking to Biggs about the Empire taxing star systems more or something like that and how he, biggs, is running away to join the rebellion.  Empire has the Wampa scenes, all those shots that were taken out of the snow creaters attacking the base.  One shot looked okay, but the rest looked lame and I understand now why they pulled it.  Also, an extended scene of Han and Leia in the hallway.  There was more then Han just walking away, it was actually Leia who walked away after their talk.  For Jedi, there was an alternate opening scene with Luke finishing up his new lightsaber in a cave close to Jabba palace and putting it in R2, kind of cool because CPO was standing outside the cave you could see the Falcon and Lukes X-Wing in the background.  Then the famous sandstorm scene, I've heard about it for years and I kind of liked it.  After they escape from Jabba, they are walking through a sandstorm on their way to their ships instead of just flying away from the planet.  I remember reading it was the last time the Falcon was constructed to full scale in the trilogy for that shot. 

I just touched the surface wit the scenes, there are more but I think I highlighted the best ones and I have to get back to work here in a sec, lol. 

 

keithdaniel 9/20/2011 9:30:33 AM

Jedibanner, regarding what can we do to correct at least some of the changes or mistakes that Lucas was foolish enough to make on the original trilogy.  The editing software now exist like Sony Vegas where one can download dvds and blurays onto a computer and edit in or out whatever one likes or dislikes.  There's also excellent FX software like Adobe After Effects which can allow you to add FX to a movie.  Case in point...STAR WARS REVISTED by Adywan!  I believe you can still download not only that movie but other movie edits on fanedit.org so check it out if interested.  I know I'll be making my own versions of all 6 Star Wars movies and I read from others who are doing the same so...have at it!

Hobbs 9/20/2011 10:08:44 AM

keithdaniel, what about the score?  I've heard about that software that pretty much lets you do your own thing but what about the music?  I would think that gets butchered in the process.

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