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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Action > Adventure > The Red Tent

The Red Tent

 

Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: D     Film: B

 

 

The Red Tent (1971) was Mikheil Kalatozishvili’s last film, shot after Yo Soy Cuba, a fantastic film on just about every level.  The Red Tent also remains one of the last of the great lengthy epic adventure films in a time Hollywood and foreign investors were willing to back such cinematic endeavors.  Blockbusters with more bang and less scope would start to take over by decade’s end and people’s attention span apparently could only last two hours at best once 1980 hit. 

 

Tent was shot somewhere between Connery’s performance in The Molly Maguires (reviewed on this site) and his legendary return in Diamonds are Forever (one of my favorite Bonds still).  He plays Roald Amundensen, who is determined to locate the missing men from a group on an Artic expedition head up by Umberto Nobile (Peter Finch).  The men are surviving after their ship breaks up during a storm and are now stuck in a red tent, but Amundensen is on his way, along with a mercenary aviator (Hardy Kruger).  The world is watching these events via TV, as is Claudia Cardinale’s character, but this mission will come to a surprising resolve. 

 

Shot in Sovscope 70, the film has been transferred to DVD in a 2.35 X 1 aspect ratio, which is slightly modified from the 2.20 70mm print aspect ratio and a downtraded to 35mm print in this case.  That means some minor cropping occurred, but nothing drastic.  This film is on the short list of about 20 films to be shot in Sovscope, as the process was incredibly expensive since it was the Russian 70mm format, which was also used on Akira Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala.  That would be Kurosawa’s first and last film shot in 70mm as he ran into financial problems post 1975, which he would need the help of George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola to release films after that. 

 

Russian cinematographer Leonid Kalashnikov does amazing work here as does Ennio Morricone’s score, although the Russian version of the film contains music by Aleksandr Zatsepin.  Oddly enough this film is a combination of an Italian/Russian/American with Paramount overseeing its release in the U.S. as the case for this DVD edition.  Unfortunately this is the shortened 121-minute version of the film and is not the full-length 195-minute version of the film, which the U.S. has yet to see.  Even the LaserDisc version issued was the 121-minute version, but was a pan & scan issue, so at least this DVD is widescreen. 

 

Tragically Paramount really could have capitalized on this film a bit more given that Sean Connery is in it and that has selling power on it’s own.  Because of that, it would have been interesting to see a 2-Disc set that included both versions of the film along with some extras or even the trailer.  There has to be someone out there willing to talk about aspects of this film, especially given the fact that it was shot in Sovscope and was a co-production.

 

There are two audio tracks to choose from here, one being a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix and the other a 2.0 Dolby Digital surround mix that sounds a bit flat by comparison.  The 5.1 mix is preferable and gives a thicker sound that comes closer to the 6-track magnetic stereo of the 70mm print.  There are many instances in which the film sounds really wonderful and other times it could use a bit more.  Low end is lacking just a bit, which could be due to compression, but is more likely due to Dolby’s lower bit rate than DTS.  Why can’t we get more 70mm films in DTS?  The result of this can be incredible as seen and heard on the Columbia TriStar Superbit release of Lawrence of Arabia.  Even the DTS edition of Akira has some major sound work happening that gives it a full prominent effect (reviewed elsewhere on this site).  This film will need more work for HD-DVD.

 

While the marketing department missed an opportunity here, instead we get a virtually bare release of this semi-forgotten flick that will probably attract a few viewers.  Whether this edition is necessary to purchase is the question at hand, which for now this DVD release will have to do.

 

 

-   Nate Goss


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