Legend has it that Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane was one of the early Criterion releases back in laserdisc days, so it’s only fitting that it should appear in the first batch of their 21st century releases in 4k UHD, and WB has made the correct move in licensing the product to Criterion.



An extraordinary film on many levels, albeit unfortunately a film with which the world is left with only second generation film elements. Nice elements, but not perfect.




Criterion and WB has created this new digital master from (in most cases) a nitrate fine grain master, that does a superb job of replicating the look of the film.

But here’s where 21st century technology rears its head, and I wish it hadn’t.

There’s a place in the world (especially for newer productions with living filmmakers) for Dolby Vision.

Make no mistake, it’s a wonderful imaging process.

But the reality is that it has absolutely nothing to do with 4k UHD releases, even though some industry sources make it appear that it (and HDR in general ) are part of the plan (it isn’t), and that they’re essential toward proper viewing of 4k product (it isn’t).

It seems akin to a bit of hucksterism – those highway roadsigns that proclaim “See live alligator wrestling.” Think Nightmare Alley.




I love Citizen Kane, with it’s brilliant screenplay – someone should do a film about that – it’s extraordinary cinematography with camera located below floor levels, and sometimes exposing ceilings – something entirely new, unless one considers The Maltese Falcon – it’s overlays of dialogue.

All from that new kid on the block in his first feature project.

Based upon available materials, most everything about this new release is correct to my eye, and we’re lucky to be the beneficiary of the work that went into the project.

I use the word most, as I do have some minor problems with the new disc – and to most people they’ll be very minor.

I believe a shot in the screening room early should be a bit heavier, and not exposing that new actor, Joe Cotten, before he plays a role in the film. Others, who play characters later in the film are also in this sequence. I’ve always heard that they were used as opposed to hiring extras, and were not meant to be seen, other than in deep shadow.

In one shot in the Thatcher Library, after the guard deposits the manuscript on the desk, our first view of the papers should have a bit of detail. It’s gone. Entirely blown out to white. Presumably thanks to Dolby Vision.

Those are my gripes, which leaves somewhere over 118 minutes of running time that seems fantastic.

Being an important film, Criterion has seen fit to go all in on extras, which may make this release the most important of the year for a classic (non-Marvel product).

Black levels are superb throughout. Shadow detail seems to be genrally as designed by Mr. Toland. Grain structure looks fine. Overall resolution, which is far from 4k, but who cares in this instance, is proper for the film. Everything seems to be in the correct place.




I’m thrilled with one, and Criterion’s new Citizen Kane should be in collection of any serious cinephile.

Coming November 23rd, and worth the price of admission?




You betcha!




Picture – 4.95

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Beautifully

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 3.25

Very Highly Recommended



RAH
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Robert Crawford

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Well, I guess this upcoming 4K disc release will generate some unhealthy debate regarding HDR or not. I look forward to doing my part after I first view it on my OLED panels.
 

compson

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As RAH knows, Criterion began on December 3, 1984, with laserdisc release 001.

238A5399-793C-470A-B8C6-1D51C633C5CF.jpeg


“I think among the sort of cinema cognoscenti, it was an exciting moment because suddenly the sort of bastardized medium of video was showing some promise. Suddenly, people felt that, oh, there’s a life for movies and video that’s respectful of the films and has some promise going forward.”

Promise fulfilled
 
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titch

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How does this differ in quality to the excellent Warner 75th anniversary blu-ray edition released in 2016?
 

Robert Crawford

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Is the blu ray from the set from the new master and does it have the same issues as the 4k ?
If you read RAH's comments again, you will see that Dolby Vision is the cause of one issue with the 4K disc which the Blu-ray derived from the same 4K master doesn't have it because it lacks DV.
 

Robert Harris

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If you read RAH's comments again, you will see that Dolby Vision is the cause of one issue with the 4K disc which the Blu-ray derived from the same 4K master doesn't have it because it lacks DV.
I’m unable to comment on the Blu.
 

Michael Osadciw

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Robert, did you try to disable Dolby Vision in the player so that your TV plays the HDR10 "hero" instead? If so, did that correct the "blown out papers" in question? I find that Dolby Vision "interpretations" vary significantly from TV to TV, between similar models, and to TV generations that follow. After reading the Dolby Vision white papers, it seems that several trim passes are made (e.g. 600nit, 1000nit) and the Dolby "manipulation" of the HDR10 hero master for the specific trim pass can be quite different. As a result, it is my view that Dolby Vision is a compromised system to address video display compromises.
 

Nelson Au

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Based on the question if the Critierion Citizen Kane’s included blu ray uses the same master as the 4K disc and RAH’s answer, it sounds like RAH has not sampled the included blu ray.
 

Robert Harris

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Robert, did you try to disable Dolby Vision in the player so that your TV plays the HDR10 "hero" instead? If so, did that correct the "blown out papers" in question? I find that Dolby Vision "interpretations" vary significantly from TV to TV, between similar models, and to TV generations that follow. After reading the Dolby Vision white papers, it seems that several trim passes are made (e.g. 600nit, 1000nit) and the Dolby "manipulation" of the HDR10 hero master for the specific trim pass can be quite different. As a result, it is my view that Dolby Vision is a compromised system to address video display compromises.
Via projection was running HDR. I can check out DV via OLED.

Checked via OLED. Same or brighter. The shot in question is difficult as it’s the A side of a dissolve, going into a BCU of verbiage, seemingly properly exposed.
 
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Blu Eye

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Robert, did you try to disable Dolby Vision in the player so that your TV plays the HDR10 "hero" instead? If so, did that correct the "blown out papers" in question? I find that Dolby Vision "interpretations" vary significantly from TV to TV, between similar models, and to TV generations that follow. After reading the Dolby Vision white papers, it seems that several trim passes are made (e.g. 600nit, 1000nit) and the Dolby "manipulation" of the HDR10 hero master for the specific trim pass can be quite different. As a result, it is my view that Dolby Vision is a compromised system to address video display compromises.
That's my understanding of it.

If a TV is capable of reproducing the original look of the film as intended then Dolby Vision is not required whatsoever.

Unfortunately, most TVs cannot do that hence Dolby Vision.

I'm glad I stuck to my guns and never relented when I purchased my first 4k TV last year.

I purchased a Panasonic 4k OLED that does not have DV and has a THX certified movie setting pre-set included.

Despite the fact it was released over 3 years ago I'm continually astounded of the quality when watching discs.
 

usrunnr

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I'll buy this in 4K,
But there are other films I'd like to see released on Blu-ray
before getting into the 4k re-release of films already released on Blu.
 

Blu Eye

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I'll buy this in 4K,
But there are other films I'd like to see released on Blu-ray
before getting into the 4k re-release of films already released on Blu.

I think a lot do but 4k seems to be taking a life of its own at the moment.

There are a few films that were botched on Blu Ray but I wouldn't mind a re-release on Blu or a new 4k release.

The labels seem to think 4k releases are more worthwhile at the moment.
 

sbjork

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Via projection was running HDR. I can check out DV via OLED.

Checked via OLED. Same or brighter. The shot in question is difficult as it’s the A side of a dissolve, going into a BCU of verbiage, seemingly properly exposed.
Your review only mentions the Dolby Vision, so just to clarify, you had the same issues with the HDR10 layer via your JVC?