A new HD version of HERCULES was recently shown in Italy, on RAI (see screenshot above with the RAI logo), and it s now available at some websites. Hurray! Well, hold on there. The version is the exact same version as the Japanese Blu-ray, with that odd filter. The image is sharp but the filter gets in the way of enjoying it. The good thing is, someone added the English audio to it. The bad thing, it’s not the preferred English audio. Here’s a quick observation of this print:
The runtime of this new print is 1:38:54. The Japanese Blu-ray is 1:43:10. The Italian TV broadcast is in PAL which explains the shorter time but it’s the same print.
The audio of the Italian broadcast is identical to the Japanese Blu-ray which is not good since it’s very weak.
Someone added the English audio to this print, and this one is robust and stronger than the soft Italian one.
The question is: who added the English audio to this Italian broadcast? I’m happy it was added but unfortunately, it’s not my preferred English dub. The one included on this print is the International English audio, dubbed in Italy. The version seen in North America, the ‘Avco Embassy’ version, is, imo, better. Even though there are some quirks in regards to the dialogue, the voices are more warm, less shrill than the International English version.
Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina. Beautiful!
This Italian broadcast doesn’t have ‘Joseph E. Levine presents’ at the beginning, which is correct since Levine acquired the movie while it was in cinemas in Italy. The Japanese version also doesn’t have the Levine intro.
Opening and closing credits:
The opening credit in this one is the original Italian version with the red mural and Italian text.
The International English version of it has an English version, with HERCULES as title with the red mural. But the US version is different with an animated opening credits. I like both but since this is from an Italian broadcast, the Italian version is to be expected.
The closing credit is whole other matter. Back in the past, movies had THE END when a movie concluded. In Italian, it’s FINE. Well, this copy doesn’t have the FINE closing credit. The Japanese Blu-ray also doesn’t have the FINE closing frame. The music, which culminates when FINE appears, is missing. The movie and score peter out and it fades to black. The US copy has a THE END and closing credit with lists of actors and crew.
Above: US version with THE END over Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina. Below is the FINE with the robust score, familiar with all fans of this movie. In this new copy, there’s no FINE. The movie just fades to black before the crescendo followed by FINE. It’s the same on the Japanese Blu-ray.
The image is sharp and it’s always nice to see the movie at such a resolution. But if you have the Japanese Blu-ray, it’s not much of an improvement since they are the same.
Above: screenshot from the RAI broadcast. Below: screenshot taken from Japanese Blu-ray. They’re the same. It’s has that odd filter which softens the image, certainly the skin of the actors. It makes everyone ‘glow.’
I’m happy this copy exists but it’s not the actual version seen in movie theatres back in the 1950s. I don’t know why this movie is so plagued with odd aspects. Why is so difficult to get a proper copy without defects?
Maybe it’s cursed.