Grapevine Video, no catalog number, UPC 8-42614-10042-0.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0NTSC DVD-R disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, PCM 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $14.95.
Release date: 2004.
Country of origin: USA
This budget edition has been mastered from a very-good 16mm reduction print. The older analog video transfer, originally prepared for release on VHS videotape in the 1990s, does not hold highlight details, which are blasted out to white in many cases, nor hold open shadow areas, which are dark and featureless. The middle tones are OK, which makes the edition still watchable with only a few frustrations. There is the normal amount of dust, speckling and frame jitters seen in most 16mm reduction prints of this vintage.
The film is accompanied by a music score performed on piano that was likely taken from the source print’s optical soundtrack. The audio quality is only fair, with the muffled piano sounding like a vintage 1960s 16mm soundtrack.
This disc is currently the only known home video edition of The Forbidden City on DVD. However, it appears that there is more picture information in the source print than is reproduced in the older video transfer. Perhaps this edition could be remastered on newer telecine equipment sometime in the future — or, better still, a new edition could be produced from the 35mm print held by the Library of Congress.
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