4.0 out of 5 stars Iconic 60's classic gets a picture-perfect, if extras-light Hi-Def debut , 20 Nov 2008
By Martin Thomson (London UK) - See all my reviews
I'm sure that most people reading this will be fairly familiar with this terrific film, and will mostly want to know how this Hi-Def debut compares to the previous DVD versions. So, to business...
First and foremost, the film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16:9 enhanced. Whilst I can't speak for the recent Network DVD re-issue, comparing it to the old widescreen Carlton DVD the difference in quality is remarkable.
Detail is infinitely improved with much more fine texture being visible (especially on people's skin). Contrast is accurately reproduced, with no discernible clipping of the white areas of the image, and a decent enough if slightly limited range of detail in the darker areas (although this may just be my TV).
Colors are much more accurate than the previous DVD (on which the overall image, and skin tones in particular, suffered from a queasy yellow tint). On this release, skin tones are accurate and natural, and the overall image reproduces the photographic style of the film perfectly.
One of the most striking differences is how much less dirt and grain are apparent in the image (for an example, look at the interior shot from the car driving through the station entrance at the beginning of the film). Whether this is the natural result of using a better film element or through artificial grain and noise reduction I am not sure, but I certainly did not detect any unsightly digital smearing or other artefacts (including, thankfully, edge enhancement).
I have certainly never seen this film look better, and would definitely recommend it to those looking for an upgrade over their old copy. As far as the Network release is concerned, I remember reading about some sync issues that people were complaining about. Those certainly are not in evidence here.
Sound-wise, the track provided here is of excellent quality with a full dynamic range and excellent clarity. I can't really review the 5.1 remix as I don't have a surround sound set up, although quite what they could (or should) do with a strictly mono film is questionable.
What is a pity is that ITV chose not to import the special features from the recent Network release onto this blu-ray, which is pretty bare. However, the very favorable asking price on amazon goes some way towards mediating this.
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