In the past I tried to make a despecialized Ashes of Time for myself, cutting bits of the anamorphic Tf1 disc and the Redux and the Mei Ah DVD together to make it all work. I ended up coming up with what seemed like much better things to do with my time––i.e., my own creative ventures. I can't imagine such a pursuit bearing much fruit, really. Watching the cut-up and reconstituted version would be its own very jarring experience, because of the huge quality differences between sources and the constant cutting between sources which would have to happen.
In the case of the other movies, it looks like Fallen Angels is the main victim. I doubt if there's enough salvageable material in this new revision to build a mostly 4k-scanned version of the movie, without some major technical work. Even if you could manipulate the image into being the original frame dimensions, the grain on the restoration would be vertically-squished in order to do it––which I think would end up looking really odd. From the sound of things a despecialized version of Happy Together could end up fairly do-able.
But I would bet we are approaching the last moment where those original WKW blu ray releases are at all affordable. If Criterion were to package the original versions with these new ones on their release, it would be in the previous level of quality, and not in the 4k sourcing of the restorations, since the restorations have been undertaken with all these changes being baked in.
I think swo17 is going to be proven right in this analysis:
swo17 wrote: ↑
Tue Dec 01, 2020 7:36 pm
2. You bury the original versions. Fans resent you and your changes. They probably don't even give them much of a chance. You've planted a seed saying that the original versions lack merit and it eventually bears fruit in a devaluation of both you and your work.
It's going to cheapen the WKW brand as a whole. Something similar happened in 2012 to the Corto Maltese comics, where they were published in English for the first time after being out of print for decades, and they went with a colorized version of the book that had been cut into pieces so that the pages had a different dimension and could be marketed in big box bookstores. The Italian publisher was caught off-guard by the public's visceral reaction against the doctored book; they didn't really seem to take into account the context under which this was being published; in Europe, you could buy both the original black and white editions of the Corto Maltese comics, and the color editions, which were reformatted for bookstores. If you preferred the original, you had access to it. In the U.S., previous Corto Maltese editions were going for hundreds of dollars on ebay––they were hard to find, and the presence of only the mangled edition meant that it was hard for comic fans––the main consumers of this almost 50-year-old comic––to process what great and important work the books were in this bowdlerized version (panels moved to different pages, breaking up the page-turning rhythm of the writing, some panels were cut in two, some were zoomed in so that they pixellized––there was an incredible amount of problems with that edition). There wasn't really another way to experience the Corto Maltese books as they had originally been experienced––and the publisher, Rizzoli, defended their choice in a similar way to what Wong is doing. They claimed that this colorized edition had been specifically approved by Hugo Pratt, the writer/artist, before his death. Then someone––I think it was Kurt Busiek––pointed out that Pratt approved that edition for large-market booksellers, and that the original black and white edition in its initial layout was still selling all over Europe when Pratt approved this new edition.
Either Wong doesn't get that previous editions of his work are going out of print, or he really believes that these new decisions he's making are better, and that people should like them more. But his tone smacks of a kind of ego-driven auterism that really rubs me the wrong way. It's like he's saying the viewer's previous experience of the film is invalid, and that it ought to remain buried in the past. But that's not really how we view movies. It's that stupid "you can't step into the same river twice" thing he says. The whole point of home video is that you can, in fact, step into the same river twice. For that matter, mass-produced film works in the same way. And restoration should really be about recapturing what was there. What Wong is doing is just tinkering around the edges of what he's previously made; But in the case of Fallen Angels, and maybe Happy Together, his tinkering is so obvious it will be hard to ignore the results.