It was inevitable, I suppose, that a member of the highly prodigious and exceptionally prolific Mozert family of musical geniuses would eventually make his way to Tinseltown. Then, several years later, he would arrive in Hollywood, and the rest would be history. This was, of course, Stanley Alfred Akira Orson Ingmar Federico Francis Mozert, Jr. (1823-1947), the celebrated operatic filmmaker who invented sci-fi, love beads, and singing.
Mozert started it all with his space opera "Star Wards - A New Hype" in 1922, and everybody has been waiting in line for its long-overdue release on Blur-ray longer than Christmas. Now, it's finally here in high deaf, episode twenty-three in the celebrated romantic horror-comedy fantasy, docudrama-opera saga that has shaken, if not to say stirred, the Western World. And a few pocketbooks, too. It couldn't have arrived on Ultra-Lofty Definition (ULD) Blur-ray at a better time.
Mozert's opera was directed on film by Georges Méliès ("A Trip to the Orchestra Pit"), produced by Stephan Spiegelburg ("E.T. The Extra Tenor"), and adapted for the screen by Roger Corperson ("The Beast with a Million Songs"), Petar Jacksson ("Sing Song"), Dino Martin Scoresese ("Boxcar Ballads"), and Francesco A. Capella ("A Pox on Your Lips Now"). It's a prodigious effort by a prodigious team of prodigious (and prolific) filmmakers.
"Star Wards - A New Hype," as you all remember from your Opera Film Study classes, is the story of a waif, Lucas Moneymaker (Narc Hemphill, countertenor), who saves a home for retired movie stars that is far, far away and a heck of a long time ago, like before you were even born, even. Well, maybe not that long.
With the help of his faithful companions--the haughty Hand SoLow (Harrison Fairlaine, baritone), the dauntless Princess Pixar (Carrie Mebacktu Olevirginny, mezzanine-soprano), the wise guru Olden-One Nairobi (Guinness Stout, "It's in the book!"), his comic sidekick ChewTobacco (Bert Skoal), and his mascots See-3-PO'D (Tom Hunks) and How-D-Do-D (Denny DaVeto)--Moneymaker rescues untold numbers of old folks from the diabolical clutches of their evil Overlord, Mala Vista (Robert Igor), his adopted son, Asta La Vista (the Honorable Arnold), and Vista's former henchmen, the brothers Mirra and Max (Darth Harvey and Darth Wienstine, bassi profundi), Dark Overseers of the Cinematheque. A cameo appearance by young soprano Sterling Christensen as the cuddly Judo Master, Yogi Teddybeara, completes the cast.
George Burns dubs the singing parts. Marcel Marceau handles the voices.
Based in part on the myth "The Hero of a Thousand Voices" by the late, great, celebrated PBS talk-show host J.R.R. "Soupy" Campbell and in part on the classic Samurai farce "The Hidden Fat in Chow Yun" by Acura Kurosodoff, "Star Wards - A New Hype" is THE seminal operatic work in early Hollywood's burgeoning retirement-home opera genre. Grounded in strong metaphysical convictions, deep existential philosophy, uncompromising ethical values, and women in flimsy white negligees, the movie is destined to stand the test of time, at least until the next installment comes out in two weeks.
For this Super-Deluxe, Extra-Elite, 97th Anniversary, Special Edition Blur-ray boxed set, the folks at Twenty-First Century Vixen Home Entertainment have transferred the film, all fourteen minutes of it, to three quad-layer Blur-ray discs, front and back, for optimum AV playback quality. And, of course, the THD-certified ULD-BR audiovisual format preserves the movie's original theatrical-exhibition size, a 360:1 anorexic-ratio, TechnoRabid SwaddleScreen-80 presentation. The filmmakers realize that this format could present some small problem to those viewers whose home theaters are not equipped to do it justice, but by utilizing as simple an array as sixteen 90" curved-screen ULHD televisions in a circular pattern around the viewing area, the film can still provide a fascinating, if somewhat limited, visual experience. Textures are lifelike; flesh tones, particularly light greys and whites, are extraordinarily natural; and the panoramic scenery is, well, panoramic.
The sound reproduction is sound, offered up in the director's preferred configuration, lossless Dolby Digits TrueTH Atmospheric LucasEar 60.8 AX AuralSurround-500. Listeners with fewer than the optimal ten speakers per bank--ten front, twelve back, twenty sides, thirty ceiling, and forty-seven floor, with eight 36" subwoofers--will still get a kick out of the all-enveloping nature of the audio playback. Even as few as 43.6 speakers are adequate for the job, so almost anyone can enjoy the beauty of LucasEar's phenomenal monaural soundtrack. Highly recommended, especially if you don't like your neighbors.
Discs one, two, and three in this ten-disc Blur-ray set are devoted, as mentioned above, to the movie itself, with six separate audio commentaries to enjoy. The first commentary, as expected, is with the director, cast, crew, and stars. The second commentary is with the stars, cast, director, and crew. The third is with everybody already cited plus the guy who cleans up after the lights go out. The fourth is with the best boy. The fifth is with the best boy's best girl. And the sixth is with the gaffer, a compilation of his very best gaffes.
Spoken languages come in Danish, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Lappish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Canadian, Texan, Stallonean, Nabuccon, Freishhok, Bombastic, and Toolouyie; with subtitles in Pitouy, Zha*#/-^sh, Orwellian Doublespeak, and Portlandian Redneck. For an additional charge, you can order English. Scene selections are on the light side, however, at two, including one for the closing credits. It's a small price to pay for perfection.
Discs four through ten contain the major bonus items, including documentaries, featurettes, poster galleries, interactive recipes, interviews, e-mails, private telephone conversations, Easter eggs, duck eggs, Fabergé eggs, scrambled eggs, National Be-Kind-To-Your-Ferret-Day eggs, and plenty of commas. Then there are behind-the-scenes photos of really old retired people (some as old as their fifties and sixties); and other stuff you'll never look at again.
Here, too, you'll find various theatrical trailers and tractors for "Star Wards" prequels, sequels, continuations, and spin-offs, including teasers for the new Ultra-Deluxe, Extra-Elite, Further Anniversary, Special Edition Blur-rays of the movie, plus all the other films in the series that are coming out next month with even more extras than this one. "Buy now, buy later" is the industry motto. The present discs conclude with promos for various "Star Wards" paraphernalia, including video games, board games, card games, dice games, dart games, graphic novels, comic books, cartoon strips, action figures, thumb screws, razor blades, maps, hats, masks, gloves, ears, noses, eyebrows, laser guns, power drills, jackhammers, ball-peen hammers, and other merchandise the studio hopes to con you into buying before they're through.
Also included: "The Mozert Family Tree," suitable for framing, mounting, or planting. You, too, can grow little Mozerts in your garden. Who knows? Maybe someday one of them will write a sequel.
Finally, tucked away neatly in a back pocket of the beautifully illustrated metal-foil slipcase is a full-scale, foldout cardboard replica of Hand SoLow's lighter-than-air jet aircraft, the Millennium Buzzard. Fully expanded, the airplane measures some 300 feet, nose to tail, with functional cockpit and cargo bays. A word of caution about this item, however. It is designed as a simulation only and will not actually fly. Early reports have indicated that some beta testers apparently attempted to launch their vehicles from garage roofs with less than satisfactory results. The studio warns that such misuse of the product may be hazardous to the model and its occupants and could do irreparable damage to both. This is a full-size likeness only, kids, and should be treated as such. For safety's sake, if you have a 300-foot dresser in your bedroom, that's where you should properly display your Buzzard.
In addition to this latest complete edition of the initial chapter in the "Star Wards" saga, the marketing directors at Twenty-First Century Vixen are making available for the first time a special five-shelf Blur-ray disc bookcase to house the over 1800 re-releases so far in the series. As this bookcase will only accommodate Blur-ray discs, however, the studio advises buyers to hang on to their old bookcases to store any BDs, DVDs, videotapes, and laser discs already obtained. Do not, however, attempt to mix or match Blur-ray discs, BDs, DVDs, tapes, and LDs as the formats are not compatible and serious damage could result.
"Star Wards - A New Hype: Part XXXV1, A Space Opera" on Blur-ray may be purchased individually for $59.95 or in a complete box set of all seventy-two episodes (so far) for a MSRP of $6,876.40. Nevertheless, a perusal of the Dark Matter Web reveals several outlets discounting the price considerably, with several on-line stores offering the entire box for $9.95. A shipping and handling fee of $6,866.45 should not deter the dedicated buyer in search of a bargain.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this movie's soundtrack, click below: