A few words about…™ A Matter of Life and Death — in Blu-ray

Upgrade from DVD - yes, please! 4 Stars

I have very little to say about this film, except that those who have never heard of it, should immediately jump on this release. Those who do know, will already have it on pre-order.

Powell

Pressburger

Cardiff

Technicolor

An absolutely magnificent Blu-ray from a new 4k restoration by Columbia, with extras, and released via Criterion.

One of the films I’d take to a desert island, along with most of the other Powell/Pressburgers.

Makes many modern films look like insignificant pipsqueaks.

As an unfortunate aside, this film is fully digital, having been restored from surviving nitrate elements at 4k resolution.

Which proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that digital technology has no roll in true film restoration.

Analogue is the only way to go!

Image – 5*

Audio – 5

Upgrade from DVD – yes, please!

Pass / Fail – Pass

Very Highly Recommended!!!

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

142 Comments

  1. Part of my rather huge Barnes & Noble/Criterion order. Not released until later in the month, so I won't be seeing it for awhile, but can hardly wait until I do. It's a memorable film, for sure.

  2. haineshisway

    I knew this would be a winner and I want it NOW! On the other hand, Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Von Sternberg will arrive on the 'morrow.

    You’ll appreciate the fact, that whilst the b&w negs were problematic, the work was performed from the magenta negatives, which are the dupes toward matrix creation.

    Magnificent job. I believe the filmmakers would be extremely pleased.

  3. notmicro

    By any chance did the restoration start from B&W separations?

    I believe it was from the original negatives. There are no “separations! per se in 3-strip Tech. There are negatives and masters, as there is nothing to separate.

    Only seps derived from 3-strip of which I’m aware were those made from Fox CRIs.

  4. Matt Hough

    Part of my rather huge Barnes & Noble/Criterion order. Not released until later in the month, so I won't be seeing it for awhile, but can hardly wait until I do. It's a memorable film, for sure.

    Whereas I am willing to forfeit 2 Criterion titles at 50% off, in order to have this one potent "Must" at full-price.

  5. PMF

    Whereas I am willing to forfeit 2 Criterion titles at 50% off, in order to have this one potent "Must" at full-price.

    Well, we can have them ALL at 50% off with a little patience. It's a small price to pay.

  6. PMF

    Whereas I am willing to forfeit 2 Criterion titles at 50% off, in order to have this one potent "Must" at full-price.

    Why do you have to forfeit? The pre-order is half-off right now at B&N!

  7. I will gladly preorder this. Can't risk my B & N not getting it in. So happy this is getting released. I wonder how restoration expert Christopher Nolan feels about this being restored digitally and how he would do it photochemically?

  8. PMF

    Whereas I am willing to forfeit 2 Criterion titles at 50% off, in order to have this one potent "Must" at full-price.

    Both Barnes & Noble allow you to pre-order this film at $19.99 + tax and have it sent to you around July 24th Hence … Although you'll have to wait for Heaven … as "Heaven Can Wait" is not currently available for pre-order at the 50% off sale as of yet as it does not come hither until August 21

    Courtesy of David Norman:
    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/co…i-annual-50-off-criterion-sale.324983/page-40

    Each sale tends to have something unique in the rules, but general rules

    1) 50% off is taken off MSRP and not normal prices.
    2) Online and in-store Items
    3) Current Release and items officially releasing during a sale so Dec and Jan releases will not be officially half off (possible workaround below). BN usually doesn't allow backorders on items that are OOS at the fulfillment warehouse.
    4) Member 10% discounts for instore purchases are taken off the sale price. Online member discount do not apply
    5) DVD, Bluray, Eclipse, Essential sets have all been eligible in the past.

    YMMV
    1) Extra coupons (Member coupons, non-member coupons, instore/online, Anniversary Coupons, New Member Welcome Coupons etc) have been allowed some sales, but not others. The last 2 sales most coupons have been mostly disabled both online and store where in prior sales most stores allowed extra to apply (some stores/managers did make their own rules and rejected coupons even if the POS computer said they allowed). It doesn't matter whether the coupon specifically excludes them in the fine print or not — http://www.bn.com/couponexclusions This webpage updates on the fly and the coupons seem to be linked to this page, but all excluded items or groups aren't always explicit listed.
    2) The July sale allowed 50% off pre-order items plus member discounts on Criterions ordered in store as "Ship-to-Home" orders.

    In General, if you order anything over over $5.01 + your $19.99 selection you will get free shipping (without being a B&N member). The other selection (if it's available) will usually be sent before your pre-order item …

  9. Robert Harris

    You’ll appreciate the fact, that whilst the b&w negs were problematic, the work was performed from the magenta negatives, which are the dupes toward matrix creation.

    Magnificent job. I believe the filmmakers would be extremely pleased.

    Robert,
    I have a question: The header for this thread shows an image of the operation and staircase and has significant color registration issues. Is this an accurate representation of the film ?

    I've only seen Colonel Blimp, Tales of Hoffmann, Black Narcissus and one of my favorite films of all time The Red Shoes .

  10. Thank you, Mr. Harris! This is wonderful news. “A Matter of Life and Death” is one of my absolute favorite films – ever. I first saw it some (50?) years ago on the tube in an all B&W print with the title “Stairway to Heaven,” and thought was a terrific film then. I was gobsmacked when I eventually got to view it in a slightly faded color print with the original title in a little local (now gone) art house. “A Matter of Life and Death” just gets better every time I see it. Naturally, it’s pre-ordered from B&N – along with the Von Sternberg-Dietrich box set. It is a great movie month for me. Thanks again!

  11. CarlosMeat

    Robert,
    I have a question: The header for this thread shows an image of the operation and staircase and has significant color registration issues. Is this an accurate representation of the film ?

    I've only seen Colonel Blimp, Tales of Hoffmann, Black Narcissus and one of my favorite films of all time The Red Shoes .

    I’m not seeing an image, but the new BD has no issues.

  12. And those are his usual ill-taken caps – can you imagine what this actually looks like? And clearly Mr. Harris did not post anything actually having to do with this transfer in the header other than his text.

  13. I should also point out that Gary does not appreicate people "using" his screens. It used to be an understandable concern over bandwidth and storage issues but maybe not so critical now? In any case I really recommend you do your own screens, not quote his. They have always been problematic anyway.

  14. Trancas

    Look at the review here: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film5/blu-ray_reviews_67/a_matter_of_life_and_death_blu-ray.htm

    Beautifully composited!:dancing-banana-04:
    View attachment 47404
    View attachment 47406

    Thanks very much for this. This looks absolutely gorgeous. What is it about the beautiful Technicolor that gives the film something extra. This is the type of film I watch alone but also one of the reasons I built a room in the first place.

    Who selected the image in the header for Robert's "A Few Words About.." I wonder ?

  15. Randal Gist

    Thank you, Mr. Harris! This is wonderful news. "A Matter of Life and Death" is one of my absolute favorite films – ever. I first saw it some (50?) years ago […]

    50 years ago for "Life and Death"; whereas "Colonial Blimp" is always marked by 40 years ago.;)

  16. Mark-P

    Why do you have to forfeit? The pre-order is half-off right now at B&N!

    I've been taken too literally by our good membership. I was simply placing my value system on the importance of this film's release; that is, if all came down to a choice. With this one and only film, I would be very well content to go without others. In truth, though, I'm not buying any films – sale or not – be it WAC, Criterion, et al; until October; as I am saving my paper and coins for a community fund drive.

  17. Brian Husar

    I will gladly preorder this. Can't risk my B & N not getting it in. So happy this is getting released. I wonder how restoration expert Christopher Nolan feels about this being restored digitally and how he would do it photochemically?

    What?!!! I was of the understanding that Nolan was behind this project. I mean, I had read it on-line; and if its on-line then it's got to be true. Well, if Nolan's not involved with "Life and Death" then all bets are off and I'll wait until his edition is finally released.:lol:

  18. CarlosMeat

    […]Who selected the image in the header for Robert's "A Few Words About.." I wonder ?

    I believe it was Thelma Schoonmaker who made the selection.:roll:
    [And just to be certain and not create any on-line rumors, I was only making a joke.]:)

  19. PMF

    What?!!! I was of the understanding that Nolan was behind this project. I mean, I had read it on-line; and if its on-line then it's got to be true. Well, if Nolan's not involved with "Life and Death" then all bets are off and I'll wait until his edition is finally released.:lol:

    I think it's a travesty that on Colonel Blimp they scanned the 3 strips Technicolor neg individually and with digital technology they were able to align the strips. The registration needs to be off because film shrinks, so that image header is how I want it to look, because it's film. LONG LIVE ANALOGUE. If that's how Life and Death was done, it's blasphemy. Sarcasm. (Just being sarcastic)

  20. It’s great, but you need to watch the four minute resto short which looks like its had a slightly bigger dose of HDR, it zings the pop up yet another degree. We watched on a 60inch screen last night, I’m putting it through the 4k projector with HDR today for a tryout. It certainly looks beautiful, gorgeous grain and flawless alignment.

  21. It’s great, but you need to watch the four minute resto short which looks like its had a slightly bigger dose of HDR, it zings the pop up yet another degree. We watched on a 60inch screen last night, I’m putting it through the 4k projector with HDR today for a tryout. It certainly looks beautiful, gorgeous grain and flawless alignment.

  22. I'm halfway through and all I can say is – wow. For those of us who have seen dye transfer prints and then had to suffer through every previous home video iteration and be told that the French Blu-ray was somehow "okay" to finally have this looking as it should – it is spectacular, it is brilliant – I knew it from the first frame of color on the Archers logo and then the first frame of the credits with the BLUE background which is finally BLUE, deep, beautiful BLUE. This has taken my breath away on several occasions so far.

  23. My copy arrived today. I've never seen this film but sampled a few scenes and it's like no Technicolor film I've ever seen. Absolutely exquisite. I can't wait to watch the film from beginning to end! I know I'm in for a treat.

  24. Andrew Budgell

    My copy arrived today. I've never seen this film but sampled a few scenes and it's like no Technicolor film I've ever seen. Absolutely exquisite. I can't wait to watch the film from beginning to end! I know I'm in for a treat.

    Ordered my copy from Barnes and Noble because Criterions are still 50 percent off, and it has been shipped. I can't wait to get it.

  25. All I can do is add to the love here. Mine came today and I'm in the middle of watching it a second time (as background) because it's absolutely gorgeous to behold. It sure took a long time but it really IS worth the wait. It's thrilling to finally have all the big P&P Technicolors in totally satisfying home video versions.

  26. david hare

    I would actually like to see Film Foundation have another go at Black Narcissus.

    Yes, I think that the techniques of obtaining reduced registration errors have improved in the interim.

  27. CarlosMeat

    Yes, I think that the techniques of obtaining reduced registration errors have improved in the interim.

    Well I would really like to see the color get a push to higher degree of saturation. The registration on the existing BDs seems fine. But any improvement gives a sharper and sharper image.

  28. david hare

    Well I would really like to see the color get a push to higher degree of saturation. The registration on the existing BDs seems fine. But any improvement gives a sharper and sharper image.

    You don’t want too sharp an image, as fit will become a problem. Keep in mind that, as I recall, red is bi-pack.

  29. I picked this up yesterday at B&N. The first thing I skimmed was the sequence after Peter washes up on the beach since it looked rough on DVD (as the comparison video shows). Perfection here. This is the safest blind-buy anyone can make this year. P&P in Technicolor by Cardiff, Sony 4K restoration, and Criterion. Anyone skipping this while the B&N sale is going on is crazy (especially if they're occasionally smelling fried onions).

  30. But the TEAL. 🙂 Funnily, not only have there been no TEAL comments from the usual suspects, there have been NO comments from anyone. It's like they can only comment if they can complain about something, but when something is obviously this great they run for the hills. I gotta tell you.

  31. I watched it last night, not having seen it in perhaps 10 years or so. Thrillingly gorgeous – what a pleasure to have such perfection at last. The restoration comparisons really make it obvious, don't they? The unrestored clips look like they were filmed through gauze, and not in a von Sternbergian way…

  32. Mine arrived last night and I couldn't wait to pop it in and do a brief check. Same old story – the first few minutes are so compelling I just had to continue with the whole thing. The Blu-ray is a tremendous achievement and I can't imagine there being a single complaint ever lodged against it. The movie is a masterpiece.

    Here's an idea – someone sit Christopher Nolan down and show him the 4K digital restoration comparison in the extras. Maybe he'll finally understand that properly used digital tools are safe to use. And then have him explain why seeing negative tears in his "unrestored" 70mm 2001 prints is acceptable. 🙂

  33. I had only seen the film once on the now-ancient DVD. Watching the Blu-ray was like seeing a new film. The beauty of some of the shots literally made me tear up. Between this and King of Jazz, it has been a great year for classic films on Blu-ray.

  34. I had only seen the film once on the now-ancient DVD. Watching the Blu-ray was like seeing a new film. The beauty of some of the shots literally made me tear up. Between this and King of Jazz, it has been a great year for classic films on Blu-ray.

  35. haineshisway

    But the TEAL. 🙂 Funnily, not only have there been no TEAL comments from the usual suspects, there have been NO comments from anyone. It's like they can only comment if they can complain about something, but when something is obviously this great they run for the hills. I gotta tell you.

    Still waiting on my copy, but based on the screenshots at DVD Beaver, or whatever it is, the blue now looks like a push to teal…….sarcastic. LOL. Had to do this post it needed it. Or….the blu ray is Pan and Scan, I clearly remember this as a 1.66 aspect ratio. Sarcastic again, please don't take me serious on this post. Anyway, my copy is in route to me and I am watching Colonial Blimp to satisfy me right now.

  36. Peter Apruzzese

    Here's an idea – someone sit Christopher Nolan down and show him the 4K digital restoration comparison in the extras. Maybe he'll finally understand that properly used digital tools are safe to use. And then have him explain why seeing negative tears in his "unrestored" 70mm 2001 prints is acceptable. 🙂

    Here's a link to a short documentary on the silent Mary Pickford film Rosita. At the 7 minute mark they begin to discuss the restoration of the film using modern digital tools. Your jaw will drop when you see what they can do now in the digital realm.

  37. haineshisway

    There were zero registration issues on the Blu-ray.

    Black Narcissus along with The Red Shoes are certainly some of the best looking films in my mind ever made. I can sit just and watch these films for nothing more than the Technicolor masterpieces they are. Some things like color of candles and incandescent lights are a marvel. I have trouble watching Tales of Hoffmann and have yet to see A Matter of Life and Death but intend to view it tomorrow evening.

  38. Well, as I've shared on a number of threads already, I saw this a few months ago at Film Forum as a DPC, so I know how marvelous it looks, but I've been trying to talk myself out of buying the Blu-Ray as I've only just seen the darn thing, and it's not one of my favorite Archers' productions–that would be I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING, which is 100 % in black and white. However, the Technicolor–or, since this is a UK production, I suppose I should write Technicolour–creates a world of light and shadow, along with the most sensuous forest greens and cornflower blue skies I have ever seen to the point that this is a world I would really like to live in, even though I know it's completely unreal. So I suppose at some point I'm going to end up buying this.

    Just to briefly respond to Carlos' comment above about TALES OF HOFFMAN, while I'm certainly not in any way criticizing his difficulty in watching the film–it helps immeasurably if you've seen a good production of the opera, and also have read the stories–on a basic level of color and design I love this film, and the less I understand about what is actually going on in the film on a cerebral, philosophical and narrative level, the more I love it, possibly because this was one of the first films I ever saw as a three year old, and I just loved the way it looked, especially the costumes and colors. It all seemed very magical to me, and in a way was a documentary of my consciousness as a child, and especially my dreams; I had just started to dream in color, and the color was very similar to that in TALES OF HOFFMAN. Anyway, I don't know if this helps, but that's my take on the film.

  39. I watches Tales of Hoffmann and ,unfortunately ,despite its beautiful appearance, I'm not able to appreciate it perhaps as much as I should. I can enjoy many films on many levels and some I get a kick out of but am embarrassed to tell anyone I had watched.

    Moira Shearer looked like she weighed about 90lbs.

  40. CarlosMeat

    I watches Tales of Hoffmann and ,unfortunately ,despite its beautiful appearance, I'm not able to appreciate it perhaps as much as I should. I can enjoy many films on many levels and some I get a kick out of but am embarrassed to tell anyone I had watched.

    Thank God someone else said it and I'm not the ONLY philistine in town!

    Try as I might, and don't get me wrong it's gorgeous to look at, I do NOT enjoy Tales of Hoffman. In fact, (only one other poster on here knows this and you know who you are) I LOATHE it. I still bought the beautiful blu-ray, however.

    Whew, there I said it (and YES I feel better!)

  41. And I thought I was the only one! I never fall asleep during movies – but I do on HOFFMAN. I've tried twice, and couldn't get past the halfway point either time. Yes, it's beautiful, but somehow it just doesn't hold my attention.

  42. haineshisway

    There were zero registration issues on the Blu-ray.

    Robert Harris

    Agreed.

    Patrick McCart

    […]Anyone skipping this while the B&N sale is going on is crazy […]

    Even Superman has little power over Kryptonite.
    I've been saving my modest monies towards a community cause; but hopefully this won't break the momentum.:)

  43. Thirded. I gave away my copy of Hoffman, it did look stunning, but I couldn't warm to it. There is a Stairway announced for the UK in September, but no one's quite sure if it's the Sony restoration. Time will tell.

  44. Will Krupp

    […]Try as I might, and don't get me wrong it's gorgeous to look at, I do NOT enjoy Tales of Hoffman.[…]

    At first I hated it, too. I felt misled by the false advertising. But, eventually, I did come around to liking it on the second viewing; that is, after I got used to the fact there were no appearances by either Dustin of Philip Seymour.

  45. PMF

    At first I hated it, too. I felt misled by the false advertising. But, eventually, I did come around to liking it on the second viewing; that is, after I got used to the fact there were no appearances by either Dustin of Philip Seymour.

    Heheh…I'll keep that in mind and maybe give it another "go" :wub:

  46. PMF

    At first I hated it, too. I felt misled by the false advertising. But, eventually, I did come around to liking it on the second viewing; that is, after I got used to the fact there were no appearances by either Dustin of Philip Seymour.

    Maybe it's supposed to be Tales of the Hoff-Man. Is David Hasselhoff in it?

  47. I have always loved the opera ever since PBS had a version in English before the era of VCRs, which I still listen to from my audio cassette to CD-R transfer.
    I keep hoping it will some time be made available. Failing this, I bought the LPs of the soundtrack of the film and listened to it although it is a different translation.

  48. Will Krupp

    Thank God someone else said it and I'm not the ONLY philistine in town!

    Try as I might, and don't get me wrong it's gorgeous to look at, I do NOT enjoy Tales of Hoffman. In fact, (only one other poster on here knows this and you know who you are) I LOATHE it. I still bought the beautiful blu-ray, however.

    Whew, there I said it (and YES I feel better!)

    I don’t know why you were so afraid to go public with your feelings about the film. Apparently your opinion is quite validated here on the forum! 🙂 I’m still looking forward to watching it for the first time.

  49. I own Criterion's DVD release of The Tales of Hoffmann and love the film for several reasons: I am a huge Powell and Pressburger fan (I also own Criterion releases of Black Narcissus, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, A Matter of Life and Death, and The Red Shoes and will acquire A Canterbury Tale soon); I am an opera buff as well; and I love its sumptuous production values and fine acting performances.

    I hope Criterion can acquire the rights to the 2015 restored version that runs 136 minutes, including a final credits sequence of all the performers and singers that has not been seen in any previous releases, so they can release it on DVD and Blu-ray in Region 1; Studio Canal released a Blu-ray of the restored version in Region B on 3/23/15, but the restored version has not been released on DVD or Blu-ray in Region 1/A

  50. It will take a few more weeks before my copy arrives via Deep Discount (Amazon UK cancelled my minute-1 pre-order after Criterion aborted its UK release, and since 1st July Amazon stores no longer sell into Australia due to a dispute with the Oz Govt about the collection of sales tax).

    So I’ve just been catching up on the posts on this thread with a mixture of envy, major irritation (at all the parties involved in the Oz dispute) and childlike “can’t wait” anticipation for the arrival of the shiniest of toys.

    From comments here, it seems that AMOLAD possibly matches or surpasses in restoration-quality all the other great Archers Blus previously released. If so, then that is brilliant news, as in terms of representation of any filmmakers’ works, the Archers films are consistently among the most beautiful-looking restorations in my movie collection, and AMOLAD happens to be my favourite Archers of them all.

  51. Just watched A Matter of Life and Death no wonder RAH uses The Archers for his avatar ! Incredibly gorgeous and for many of the same reasons The Red shoes and The Black Narcissus look so incredible. The rich colors, at times just almost jaw dropping clarity, neutral colors are neutral just an all around great experience since this is my first time viewing it , it was doubly fascinating. As I had stated about incandescence the look of fire ,sunsets etc have a look that I've never seen before or since in film ,warm in film should be defined as this.

    I think if you love Technicolor this is must see.

  52. Finished it, and I am ready for my second go around. The best presentation on blu ray of a classic film this year, and this will include the 4K UHD 2001, too much controversy has tainted that release anyway, even if it turns out to be great. Grover Crisp deserves a medal.

  53. CarlosMeat

    Just watched A Matter of Life and Death no wonder RAH uses The Archers for his avatar ! Incredibly gorgeous and for many of the same reasons The Red shoes and The Black Narcissus look so incredible. The rich colors, at times just almost jaw dropping clarity, neutral colors are neutral just an all around great experience since this is my first time viewing it , it was doubly fascinating. As I had stated about incandescence the look of fire ,sunsets etc have a look that I've never seen before or since in film ,warm in film should be defined as this.

    I think if you love Technicolor this is must see.

    This is one of the best examples of British Technicolor, which is always said to have a different quality.

  54. Received mine and saw the first 10 minutes. A big improvement over The Films of Michael Powell dvd. Before I give that dvd to my brother I should see that second film on the set Age of Consent.

  55. atcolomb

    Received mine and saw the first 10 minutes. A big improvement over The Films of Michael Powell dvd. Before I give that dvd to my brother I should see that second film on the set Age of Consent.

    Looks like this is out of stock or unavailable everywhere I look ,where did you get Age of Consent ? ..a fun film.

  56. Mark-P

    I don’t know why you were so afraid to go public with your feelings about the film. Apparently your opinion is quite validated here on the forum! 🙂 .

    Do you mean besides the fact that if you express an unpopular opinion here and other forums you will be ganged up on like flies on feces.

  57. CarlosMeat

    Looks like this is out of stock or unavailable everywhere I look ,where did you get Age of Consent ? ..a fun film.

    The Films of Michael Powell dvd set came out in 2009 by Sony Pictures & The Film Foundation. It has both A Matter of Life and Death and Age of Consent on separate discs with special features on both. I think I did buy it from either Amazon or Deepdiscount.

  58. atcolomb

    The Films of Michael Powell dvd set came out in 2009 by Sony Pictures & The Film Foundation. It has both A Matter of Life and Death and Age of Consent on separate discs with special features on both. I think I did buy it from either Amazon or Deepdiscount.

    Thanks ! I was referring to the Blu Ray of Age of Consent

  59. Just finished watching it. An extraordinary film that doesn't feel dated in the slightest (except maybe in the globe depicting Earth at the very beginning). The depiction of heaven is a triumph of production design and art direction.

    When you watch the technicolor sequences shot on location, whether it be Peter wandering the beach or Frank flying along on his motorcycle, it's truly remarkable. We're looking at 1945, and it's like looking through a window.

    And the portrayal of the jury — both juries — was far more aware and multicultural than an American film made at the time would have been.

    As a general rule you always know you're in for something special when you see this at the beginning of the movie:
    [​IMG]

  60. I acquired a U.K. 16mm dye transfer print c. 1976-7, which ended up at the Academy.

    However, the major experience for me was viewing a newly created (by Mr. Crisp) print, with Mr. Cardiff seated to my right, and sharing discrete production notes throughout.

    Now comes the new Blu, beautifully restored by Columbia, and surpassing everything that I had previously seem in quality.

    This is what the magic of home theater can be about.

  61. Mike2001

    Watched mine this morning. First time viewing the film. That is about as effective a first five minutes at pulling you into a movie as I can remember.

    And pretty shamelessly ripped off for the first Captain America.

  62. Mike2001

    Watched mine this morning. First time viewing the film. That is about as effective a first five minutes at pulling you into a movie as I can remember.

    And pretty shamelessly ripped off for the first Captain America.

  63. Mike2001

    Watched mine this morning. First time viewing the film. That is about as effective a first five minutes at pulling you into a movie as I can remember.

    And pretty shamelessly ripped off for the first Captain America.

  64. Robert Harris

    I acquired a U.K. 16mm dye transfer print c. 1976-7, which ended up at the Academy.

    However, the major experience for me was viewing a newly created (by Mr. Crisp) print, with Mr. Cardiff seated to my right, and sharing discrete production notes throughout.

    Now comes the new Blu, beautifully restored by Columbia, and surpassing everything that I had previously seen in quality..

    That might well be the highest authoritative praise I’ve yet seen for any title on Blu.

    …and to Mr Harris: what a thrill to have worked so closely with so many leading lights in this unique field of creativity – and they, you.

  65. Robert Harris

    I acquired a U.K. 16mm dye transfer print c. 1976-7, which ended up at the Academy.

    However, the major experience for me was viewing a newly created (by Mr. Crisp) print, with Mr. Cardiff seated to my right, and sharing discrete production notes throughout.

    Now comes the new Blu, beautifully restored by Columbia, and surpassing everything that I had previously seen in quality..

    That might well be the highest authoritative praise I’ve yet seen for any title on Blu.

    …and to Mr Harris: what a thrill to have worked so closely with so many leading lights in this unique field of creativity – and they, you.

  66. Robert Harris

    I acquired a U.K. 16mm dye transfer print c. 1976-7, which ended up at the Academy.

    However, the major experience for me was viewing a newly created (by Mr. Crisp) print, with Mr. Cardiff seated to my right, and sharing discrete production notes throughout.

    Now comes the new Blu, beautifully restored by Columbia, and surpassing everything that I had previously seen in quality..

    That might well be the highest authoritative praise I’ve yet seen for any title on Blu.

    …and to Mr Harris: what a thrill to have worked so closely with so many leading lights in this unique field of creativity – and they, you.

  67. A hour or two after I saw some of the new Blu-ray release I was watching tv and saw The Red Shoes being shown on the MGM HD channel….in full 16:9 format!! The folks running that channel should have broadcast it in it's correct aspect ratio. Quickly changed the channel on my remote!

  68. The half-hour analysis by Thelma Schoonmaker on the disc is excellent as well. Having someone who is a brilliant filmmaker in her own right, a deep fan of the work, and so uniquely personally close to the creators, is brilliant. She has been an excellent advocate for her husband's work, and an articulate academic about them.

    Worth

    And pretty shamelessly ripped off for the first Captain America.

    Hey, if you're gonna steal, steal from the best!

  69. I can't begin to describe the absolute thrill I experienced at seeing this marvelous film in the stupendously magnificent quality afforded us in this release. And the film's effectiveness was greatly enhanced by its perfect visual and audio presentation. What a wonderful achievement both then in its original production and now with this stunning transfer!

  70. Matt Hough

    I can't begin to describe the absolute thrill I experienced at seeing this marvelous film in the stupendously magnificent quality afforded us in this release. And the film's effectiveness was greatly enhanced by its perfect visual and audio presentation. What a wonderful achievement both then in its original production and now with this stunning transfer!

    I'd like to add how solid and neutral looking all the black and white scenes looked. Very nice, the gray scale tracking of my display is one of my requirements for excellence since I watch a lot of black and white films.

  71. Matt Hough

    I can't begin to describe the absolute thrill I experienced at seeing this marvelous film in the stupendously magnificent quality afforded us in this release. And the film's effectiveness was greatly enhanced by its perfect visual and audio presentation. What a wonderful achievement both then in its original production and now with this stunning transfer!

    I concur the video and audio presentations on this disc are just outstanding.

  72. I feel almost as if I'm going to need to hand in my HTF card after delivering this report.

    Peg and I watched A Matter of Life and Death last night. For each of us, it was our first time viewing the film.

    And neither one of us liked it a whole lot.

    I told her how universally beloved the film was among the HTF elite. But she got bored quickly and lost interest…but also toughed it out to the end. She told me she appreciated the filmmaker's efforts to tell the story in a much-less-than-conventional-way to show what was going on in his mind). But she is just not a fan of fantasy films and surrealism. So the film didn't hold her interest.

    I really appreciated how good the film looked. I saw quite a lot I liked. And I liked all of the historical references in the film. But I didn't find the plot all that compelling and found it rather predictable. But, that's me. And I might give it a second try sometime and find I enjoy it more the second time around.

  73. Mike Frezon

    I really appreciated how good the film looked. I saw quite a lot I liked. And I liked all of the historical references in the film. But I didn't find the plot all that compelling and found it rather predictable. But, that's me. And I might give it a second try sometime and find I enjoy it more the second time around.

    I'd suggest listening to the audio commentary. It's a model of its kind for pointing out the filming techniques, narrative structure, design and also the cultural context and references of a film. I already loved the film since first seeing it in on TV in BW decades ago, but it enhanced my understanding and appreciation of it immensely, not to mention being fascinating and engaging on its own.

  74. The film got me in the opening scene as the two strangers meet and basically fall in love over the radio communication as he spends his last moments (he thinks) on Earth (this only works because of the brilliant performances of the two leading actors). From then on, they had me won over cheering them on as they fought valiantly for their love to sustain. And because of the brilliant nature of the story's construction, it plays as both a fantasy (a legal fight in heaven for his life) and as reality (a brain defect giving him hallucinations which might possibly be corrected by a delicate and difficult surgery). And the final masterstroke: God in heaven supervising the trial is also the surgeon operating on the sick man supervising his operation.

    A masterpiece in my opinion. But that's just me.

  75. Matt Hough

    The film got me in the opening scene as the two strangers meet and basically fall in love over the radio communication as he spends his last moments (he thinks) on Earth (this only works because of the brilliant performances of the two leading actors). From then on, they had me won over cheering them on as they fought valiantly for their love to sustain. And because of the brilliant nature of the story's construction, it plays as both a fantasy (a legal fight in heaven for his life) and as reality (a brain defect giving him hallucinations which might possibly be corrected by a delicate and difficult surgery). And the final masterstroke: God in heaven supervising the trial is also the surgeon operating on the sick man supervising his operation.

    A masterpiece in my opinion. But that's just me.

    This!

  76. I watched it yesterday with a friend who normally isn't drawn to older movies but who appreciates the fantasy genre and lists "Defending Your Life" as one of his favorite films. He was astonished at how masterful it was in all respects, with comments like, "So ahead of its time!". He wasn't familiar with the works of Powell and Pressburger and pressed me for information on who they were and what else they had done. I love sharing classic films with those who I think will appreciate them.

  77. Mike Frezon

    But I didn't find the plot all that compelling and found it rather predictable. But, that's me.

    I think that speaks to how influential the movie's been since its release. It feels predictable because a lot of movies and TV shows have borrowed or adopted its conceit since.

  78. Thanks to everyone for posting your comments here. I have pretty much stopped buying discs this year, due to several boring reasons I won't go into here.

    But, you convinced me to buy this one. I was unfamiliar with it, but became a P&P fan after enjoying the blu-rays of The Red Shoes, Colonel Blimp, and Black Narcissus.

    I watched the disc and most of the extras over the weekend absolutely love it! Thanks again.

  79. I do enjoy the way we all disagree in this forum in such a civilised way …
    My two absolute favourite Powell and Pressburger movies are 'Tales of Hoffmann' (could watch Norma Shearer dance on those lily-pads forever) and 'I Know Where I'm Going'. My UK blu ray of 'Hoffmann' is wondrous, and it sounds as if 'A Matter of Life and Death' has also been given a transfer to covet. Now I'm waiting for 'I Know Where I'm Going' to be given similar treatment with proper restoration of its amazing one-strip black-and-white image.

  80. AnthonyClarke

    I do enjoy the way we all disagree in this forum in such a civilised way …
    My two absolute favourite Powell and Pressburger movies are 'Tales of Hoffmann' (could watch Norma Shearer dance on those lily-pads forever) and 'I Know Where I'm Going'. My UK blu ray of 'Hoffmann' is wondrous, and it sounds as if 'A Matter of Life and Death' has also been given a transfer to covet. Now I'm waiting for 'I Know Where I'm Going' to be given similar treatment with proper restoration of its amazing one-strip black-and-white image.

    Moira. Not Norma. And yes, IKWIG is also my favorite. You'll love the Criterion AMOLAD.

  81. CarlosMeat

    Yes, I think that the techniques of obtaining reduced registration errors have improved in the interim.

    haineshisway

    There were zero registration issues on the Blu-ray.

    I just want to be sure to make it clear that I did not say that Black Narcissus had registration issues which, of course, is subjective. I said registration errors which are in fact apparent throughout the film. Whether these are an issue for you or me is not worth arguing about since that is personal.

    I did not find the errors to be significantly distracting ; it is a gorgeous film, stunningly so in many places.

  82. Excuse me, there is nothing subjective if a transfer has registration issues, which is, in fact what you said – what is the difference between saying issues and errors? A transfer either has them or it doesn't – nothing subjective about it. Why don't you just tell us what those "errors" are so we can all go look for them because I'm not the only one telling you there are no registration issues or errors on the Black Narcissus Blu-ray.

  83. haineshisway

    Excuse me, there is nothing subjective if a transfer has registration issues, which is, in fact what you said – what is the difference between saying issues and errors? A transfer either has them or it doesn't – nothing subjective about it. Why don't you just tell us what those "errors" are so we can all go look for them because I'm not the only one telling you there are no registration issues or errors on the Black Narcissus Blu-ray.

    If I say I have an issue with something this means at least as I'd define it "it bothers me" it may be something that exists but it doesn't mean it is a problem for all. An example might be single chip DLP rainbows or another might be low contrast produced by most commercial digital cinema projectors. I personally find these objectionable and have an issue with them.

    As my quote shows I did in fact say "errors". An error in this case would be defined as a mathematical term and has no subjective component..

    Unfortunately, you are in error regarding this title. I wish you had taken a more tactful approach and say they are minor, or don't really bother you etc but instead decided to say zero.

  84. Goodness gracious. I don't recall my copy of Black Narcissus looking anything like those screen grabs. Those look like they are from a VHS copy.

    What is their source?

    [Note: I want this sidebar on Black Narcissus to be wrapped up soon. ]

  85. I just checked my copy.

    Those (Carlos's) aren't full-frame grabs, but sections cropped from frames and enlarged. In the final example, the mis-registration is transitory; in real time it flickers for less than a second.

    But yes, you can see mis-registration in the transfer on the Criterion Blu-Ray, but in most instances you'd have to be looking for it.

  86. Mike Frezon

    Goodness gracious. I don't recall my copy of Black Narcissus looking anything like those screen grabs. Those look like they are from a VHS copy.

    What is their source?

    I'm using a Panasonic DMP UB 900 player ,a Sony 5000es 4K projector on a 16' wide Stewart Vistascope screen with the Studiotech 130 surface ,set up and calibrated by Ken Whitcomb.

  87. You guys are right this is a gorgeous film . I watched it half a dozen times so much is aligned so tight I just sit there with my mouth hanging open. It ,however ,does not have "zero" registration errors. My original post was neutral and innocuous just stating that I thought the technology probably improved from the release of this title to the release of A Matter of Life and Death. I received a quick response about what I was seeing and that it was completely wrong. Of course, it either has zero errors or it doesn't. I cropped the areas of the scene for clarity but they are accurate.

    I doubt that it is encoding since it only occurs in certain areas of each frame and not the same places from scene to scene.

  88. Any HDR SDR conversion when applicable occurs through the Lumagen pro processor. I have looked at this through the Panasonic but also though my old and new Oppo players since I've watched it so many times. Remember the fringing isn't throughout all scenes but perhaps a third of them and does not occur throughout any given frame but instead in specific areas at times at edges at times in the middle of the frame.

  89. haineshisway

    I can't even, seriously, I can't even. Who watches movies like this? And I still say there are zero registration errors in terms of alignment. I don't need to blow up frames to absurdity to say that.

    Every three-strip film has alignment errors, especially at cut, where all three records go their separate ways.

    And then there’s the bi-pack record.

    But this disappeared in original prints.

    When scanned it 4k, they must be massaged, and with enough funding can generally be eradicated.

    Is it a viable financial position.

    No.

  90. Robert Harris

    Every three-strip film has alignment errors, especially at cut, where all three records go their separate ways.

    And then there’s the bi-pack record.

    But this disappeared in original prints.

    When scanned it 4k, they must be massaged, and with enough funding can generally be eradicated.

    Is it a viable financial position.

    No.

    End of story, can we move on.

  91. My copy arrived from across The Pond. When I saw the restoration on the big screen I'm not in the slightest bit embarrassed to admit to having shed a tear at the sheer joy.

    Viewing at home can never be quite the same, but watching the Criterion gave me the most pleasure I've had from a disc this year. At least.

    The film is sheer poetry, the presentation is sumptuous. Absolutely sumptuous.

    What more does anyone want?

  92. Watched this film for the first time ever last night and loved it. Very engaging and visually stunning with the use of color, effects, and production design. I was a little skeptical at the initial rapid-fire dialogue scene that opens the film between Peter and June, but once we got past that and the film settled a bit, it was excellent.

    I watched on my smaller HDTV. Looking forward to watching it again projected on my bigger screen.

  93. As I was watching I had a kind of Deja Vu (all over again) … one of the local stations aired a very chopped up version of this as "Stairway to Heaven" in the 70s … I definitely want to listen to the commentary … What a great film (especially in it's complete form)

  94. I will be picking up my copy from my postal box in 2 weeks. This has always been a favorite of mine. I was disappointed when I watched the DVD version with my wife — she thought it was rubbish! She finds fantasy in her words “really stupid!” Thank goodness she likes Science Fiction.

Leave a Reply