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Silent Era Home Page  >  Home Video  >  Carmen
 
Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.
Carmen
(1915)
 

The first of three 1915 adaptations of Prosper Mérimée’s novella Carmen, this Cecil B. DeMille film features Metropolitan Opera star Geraldine Farrar in her film debut (her second film production chronologically). The second 1915 adaptation, a head-to-head competing version by Fox Film Corporation starring Theda Bara that was released nationally on the same day as the DeMille film, is lost for modern audiences; the third 1915 film is Charles Chaplin’s spoof.

Producer Jesse L. Lasky convinced Farrar to follow so many other stage stars into motion pictures to expand her audience and increase her fame. After completing shooting on Maria Rosa (1916), Farrar was again paired with handsome leading man Wallace Reid and director DeMille to make one of the fiercest cinematic versions of Carmen. Farrar was noted for her fiery Carmen — both snakelike when slowly coiling around Don José, then rapidly lashing like a mountain cat when attacking someone in anger. Carmen was a sensation with critics and audiences, and the film was a success for star, studio and director.

Modern audiences will find Farrar’s performance compelling, for she commands attention when she appears on the screen and it requires an act of will to watch anyone or anything else. — Carl Bennett

2006 Video Artists International DVD edition

Carmen (1915), color-tinted and color-toned black & white, 56 minutes, not rated.

Video Artists International, 4362, UPC 0-89948-43629-4 .
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $24.95.
DVD release date: 28 March 2006.
Country of origin: USA

This presentation, originally prepared for home video in 1997, is from Cecil B. DeMille’s personal 35mm nitrate print (probably a 1918 rerelease print) held by the George Eastman House film archive and color-tinted and toned to specifications in DeMille’s papers. The full-frame, natural-speed video transfer holds up well for an older master, with reasonably good reproduction of the source print’s detail and tonal range, looking good on today’s high-definition televisions capable of resolution upscaling. The source print is slightly contrasty, with some loss of highlight and shadow details, but the midtones remain somewhat detailed. Some moderate speckling and light dust are in the print, consistent with a print of this vintage, with little print damage otherwise. Timing marks on the end of reels have not been removed from the video transfer.

An introductory prelude opens the presentation of 75 minutes, with still frames and introductory text accompanied by an orchestral overture. A postlude of still frames and exerpts from the film, with text, accompanies the supplemental material of vintage audio recordings by Geraldine Farrar, “Habanera” (1914), “Séguedille” (1914), and “Mais moi, Carmen” (1915) with Giovanni Martinelli, adding to the program time. The running time of the film itself is just more than 56 minutes.

The orchestral accompaniment with operatic interpolations is superb, based on the original Hugo Riesenfeld music score adapted from Bizet’s opera, as conducted by Gillian Anderson and performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

This VAI presentation of the film is our recommended home video edition of DeMille’s Carmen.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase thsi Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2001 Image Entertainment DVD edition

Carmen (1915), black & white, 56 minutes, not rated,
with The Cheat (1915), black & white, 59 minutes, not rated, and Burlesque on Carmen (1915), black & white, 30 minutes, not rated.

Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID9227DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-92272-1 .
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 1, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $29.99.
DVD release date: 6 March 2001.
Country of origin: USA
We have not reviewed this edition of Carmen, however, we have viewed this edition, produced for home video by David Shepard, on laserdisc. The video transfer and music for this DVD are identical to that laserdisc edition.

Also included is Charles Chaplin’s spoof of the two other motion picture versions of Carmen from 1915.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2007 Passport Video DVD edition

The Cecil B. DeMille Classics Collection (1914-1926), black & white, 1622 minutes total, not rated,
including Carmen (1915), black & white, 57 minutes, not rated.

Passport Video, DVD-5090, UPC 0-25493-50900-0.
Windowboxed 4:3 NTSC, five single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 1.0 mon0 sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 7 chapter stops, five-disc DVD keepcase, $19.98.
DVD release date: 12 June 2007.
Country of origin: USA

This budget edition has been mastered from a very-good 16mm reduction print.

This film is accompanied by an audio montage of preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era CECIL B. DeMILLE films available on home video.

Other WALLACE REID films available on home video.

 
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