The Earrings of Madame De... is a cinematic masterpiece. A tale of love, of indiscretion, and of fate.
Technically, it acts as a primer to the extraordinary work of filmmaker Max Ophuls, and specifically to his extreme use of moving camera and long takes -- in 1953.
I have a huge problem with this purported "restoration" of Earrings, as I'm not a believer in masturbatory film restoration, of which this is a wonderful example.
The work performed in 2012 is far too recent to be performed as done. I would chastise Gaumont and those behind the work, but I'll not do that, as I consider it an unfriendly act. I'll suggest, persuade, and attempt to educate.
Gaumont and those involved need to be far more cognizant of the the value, and use of original film elements, which are irreplaceable.
One should absolutely never, ever scan an original negative at anything less than full resolution for any purpose other than asset protection and true restorative efforts. With even the slightest chance of damage during the scan, in shipment, etc., it simply should not be done.
If an entity is desirous of saving money, scan at 4k, archive the scans, and do a clean-up a HD resolution.
But why even consider that for one of the greatest of most important artifacts of our cinematic culture?
There are fine grains and dupe negatives that could have been used, and the final result on Blu-ray, would have been all but indistinguishable from what has been harvested from the OCN.
End of rant.
Reading about the 2k scan, I had red flags raised high.
Especially after the horrific Blu-ray of Children of Paradise, I expected the worst.
But it never really came.
Spending quality time with Criterion's new Blu-ray, I've come away generally pleased. The majority of the data looks fine. Make no mistake, the film has been processed for grain reduction, but even in shots that should be problematic, those that have moving dust, fog, steam or other distractions of the sort, things work decently. The film is extremely clean. But the grain removal is not without problems -- and I really don't understand why it's done, as it has nothing to do with "restoration." There are processing problems, and I did note one extreme anomaly during the hunt sequence, in which the shrubs in the background of a shot or two seem to have gone totally digital, indistinct and "clumpy." I would call them almost "painterly." I don't know how to dissuade people from turning that knob.
Brilliant blacks, full deep shadow detail, sparkling whites. A grain structure is fake, but appears decent. No obvious anomalies, hanging grain or other problems.
Audio the best I've ever heard for the film, with sparkling frequency and well-controlled low. Dialogue is crisp and clear.
I love this film. Make no mistake, it is one of the most important and beautiful films ever made. Bar none.
It belongs in the collection of any serious cinephile. To consider yourself as such, and to not own it, may be cause to lose one's identity as such.
Image - 2.5
Audio - 5