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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.
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Mother
(1926)
 

Adapted from the Maxim Gorky novel, this V.I. Pudovin film of workers battling against the forces of corrupt Capitalism is among the best Soviet productions of the 1920s.

1999 Image Entertainment DVD edition

Mother (1926), black & white, 84 minutes, not rated.

Corinth Films, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID4579CODVD, UPC 0-14381-45792-6.
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 mono sound, Russian language intertitles, permanent English language subtitles, 10 chapter stops, snapper DVD case, $24.99.
DVD release date: 19 January 1999.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 5 / audio: 5 / additional content: 0 / overall: 5.

We have previously viewed the film in its 1990s laserdisc edition, and that edition seemed at the time to be of very-good visual quality. However, many Russian films appear to have survived and been preserved in less than ideal condition. This early DVD edition from film distributor Corinth Films appears to have utilized the same video transfer that was prepared for laserdisc and VHS videotape. As should be expected, the source material for the transfer is the same 1968 Mosfilm 35mm restoration print that most viewers of Mother see.

The quality of film restoration in 1968 is apparent here, as is the state of early 1990s video transfers. While a reasonably broad range of graytones and OK image detail has been captured, neither the print nor the transfer stand up to modern standards. The source print itself is at times soft of image details, waivers in and out of focus, occasionally jumps about in the frame and at nearly every edit splice, shows uneven density within the frame in shadowed shots, and is quite speckled, with processing flaws and some print damage, but with little dust. Whether in the restoration process or in the transfer, there are visual signs that the print is misfed in the video transfer equipment causing a fluttering of white below the intertitles and other dark picture elements. The video transfer is OK, but there are substandard signs of its old analog pedigree, including lower scan resolution resulting in some smeary image details and some signs of video edge sharpening that don't do well on high-definition systems.

The audio transfer of the monaural orchestral score from the print’s optical soundtrack is also substandard, with the fluttering of the misfed video transfer projector quite audible at times in the music. Maddening.

This home video edition is likely one of the best available worldwide, but it is emphatically a cry for a new state-of-the-art restoration of this wonderful Pudovkin film.

 
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.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
200? Continental Home Video DVD edition

Mother (1926), black & white, 87 minutes, not rated.

Continental Home Video, unknown catalog number, UPC 7-896748-20960-6.
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, Russian? language intertitles, English, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase?, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 200?.
Country of origin: Brazil?
This South American edition showed up for sale in the USA on eBay. It appears to have been transferred from different materials than the Image edition noted above.
Other RUSSIAN and SOVIET FILMS of the silent era available on home video.
 
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