Today Arrow Academy brings us a new 2K transfer of the classic western Cemetery Without Crosses (aka The Rope and the Colt) by actor and director Robert Hossein. This deconstruction of the American Western is a dark and brooding tale of revenge that in many senses reaches even murkier levels of amorality and ambiguity than many of the darkest Spaghetti Westerns. Dedicated to Hossein’s friend and collaborator Sergio Leone this Western is a must see which both celebrates the genre and strives to take it to new places.
Here’s our review of the blu-ray re-release:
Arrow Academy have done an excellent job here at cleaning up the visuals and the audio as best they possibly can. As the accompanying booklet tells us the original film was in a pretty bad way when they took on the restoration and some damage to the film including chemical stain and deep scratches are still on the film as they proved impossible to fix. However this doesn’t detract from the experience of watching the film, and by their account Arrow have removed thousands of marks from the original footage as well as having helped stabilised the image somewhat. You can tell that a lot of hard and loving work was put into this; the film looks impressive and it sounds even better. Every frame feels rich and any fan ought to be thrilled to see the film looking so good, regardless of the lingering damage.
Here at Rumsey’s we are big fans of the way Arrow present their discs and if you’ve bought one of theirs before then you know exactly what to expect here. As always we have a neat and streamlined menu which is highly functional whilst also looking very nice. The box itself boasts some great cover art which can be flipped if you prefer Sean Phillips’ newly commission artwork. Inside is a collection of writing on the film and the genre by Ginette Vincendeau and Rob Young which makes for an interesting and worthy addition to the film. Excellent work here.
There’s a nice selection of special features here with the most prominent one being the brand new interview with Hossein that’s titled Remembering Sergio. This interview proves to be an interesting insight into Hossein’s retrospectiove relationship with Cemetery Without Crosses and with Leone who proved to be such a key figure in inspiring the film to begin with. My only issue with the interview is that it didn’t go on longer as it felt like there was plenty more to dive into here.
Alongside the new interview we also have an archive interview with Hossein which is interesting both in its own right and also when placed alongside the new interview which it precedes by nearly fifty years. There are also two special features which are nice to have but are not essential like the two interviews. The first is a French news report from the 60’s when the film was being filmed. You get to see some of the set and there are brief interviews with actors Michèle Mercier and Serge Marquand as well as Hossein and it’s nice to hear from a variety of voices. In addition to that is the theatrical trailer which is a disc standard, it’s nice enough to have it but as ever it doesn’t add much to the disc.
Arrow Academy deliver as you would expect them to with fine attention to detail in the literature and presentation of a blu-ray which is lovingly restored from the original film elements. They have provided a nice array of extras with Hossein’s new interview being a highlight amongst several informative videos which only serve to enhance your appreciation for the film. If you’re a fan of the film you’re going to want to own this, and if you’re new to it then there’s no better place to start.
Arrow Academy release the Blu-Ray of Cemetery Without Crosses today (20th July 2015) and you can order it from Arrow themselves, from Amazon and every self-respecting retailer.