A few words about…™ Far From Heaven – in Blu-ray

Anyone familiar with Sirk or 1950s filmmaking needs a copy of this Blu-ray. 4 Stars

My initial thoughts about hearing about this release were…

“It’s about time.”

The 2002 Focus Features (Universal) release has been available on DVD only domestically. Especially because of the beautiful cinematography by Edward Lachman, who more than caught the look and textures of the originals, this has been more than an oversight.

Fortunately, Kino Lorber has corrected the omission, and the resultant Blu-ray is gorgeous.

One cannot discuss Todd Haynes’ work on this film, or his later (2015) work on Carol, without making note of possibly the greatest director of “weepers” in history – Douglas Sirk.

Mr. Sirk, who emigrated from Germany – many of his early films were for UFA – made his American debut in 1943, with Hitler’s Madman, and through 1959, directed almost thirty films, many of them based upon his very a Sirkian concept.

Although he was responsible for other genres (Battle Hymn, Sign of the Pagan), he will forever be remembered for the likes of Imitation of Life, The Tarnished Angels (also newly available via Kino Lorber), Written on the Wind, Never Say Goodbye, All that Heaven allows and The Magnificent Obsession, and All I Desire.

All under the Universal banner, and making great multiple use of some of their contract players, most notably Rock Hudson, Dorothy Malone, Robert Stack, and Barbara Stanwyck.

Far From Heaven recreates the look and textures of those ’50s films, along with the Sirkian style.

Anyone familiar with Sirk or 1950s filmmaking needs a copy of this Blu-ray.

While some of his most popular works are available on domestic Blu, there are still titles missing. Hopefully the release of Tarnished Angels will allow Kino to step up to the plate and invest in these.

Image – 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – a necessity

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

23 Comments

  1. Robert Harris

    My initial thoughts about hearing about this release were…

    "It's about time."

    The 1992 Focus Features (Universal) release has been available on DVD only domestically. Especially because of the beautiful cinematography by Edward Lachman, who more than caught the look and textures of the originals, this has been more than an oversight.

    Fortunately, Kino Lorber has corrected the omission, and the resultant Blu-ray is gorgeous.

    One cannot discuss Todd Haynes' work on this film, or his later (2015) work on Carol, without making note of possibly the greatest director of "weepers" in history – Douglas Sirk.

    Mr. Sirk, who emigrated from Germany – many of his early films were for UFA – made his American debut in 1943, with Hitler's Madman, and through 1959, directed almost thirty films, many of them based upon his very a Sirkian concept.

    Although he was responsible for other genres (Battle Hymn, Sign of the Pagan), he will forever be remembered for the likes of Imitation of Life, The Tarnished Angels (also newly available via Kino Lorber), Written on the Wind, Never Say Goodbye, All that Heaven allows and The Magnificent Obsession, and All I Desire.

    All under the Universal banner, and making great multiple use of some of their contract players, most notably Rock Hudson, Dorothy Malone, Robert Stack, and Barbara Stanwyck.

    Far From Heaven recreates the look and textures of those '50s films, along with the Sirkian style.

    Anyone familiar with Sirk or 1950s filmmaking needs a copy of this Blu-ray.

    While some of his most popular works are available on domestic Blu, there are still titles missing. Hopefully the release of Tarnished Angels will allow Kino to step up to the plate and invest in these.

    Image – 5

    Audio – 5

    Pass / Fail – Pass

    Upgrade from DVD – a necessity

    Very Highly Recommended

    RAH

  2. Charles Ellis

    I saw it in the theater and to this day I'm mad as hell that Dennis Quaid didn't get a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination!

    I was lucky to see this film without knowing anything about it before I saw it, so all the plot points were a surprise to me. From seeing the film many times I've come to appreciate how someone could enjoy it on so many levels. From period drama to camp if one is of the mind.

    I think it should've been nominated for Art Direction, too. (Now called Production Design.) How was it not? (Especially against the messy production design of Gangs of New York.) I also think Patricia Clarkson was robbed of a nomination. She was brilliant. Picture. Director. Etc. Julianne was also supporting actress nominated this same year for another film. Her acting in Far From Heaven was a combination of realism and that heightened melodramatic '50's style and it was seamless and really fine.

    As for Dennis Quaid, I feel a nomination should've come his way, too, but I really think he derailed his own chances. When he was giving interviews for the film back then, well, interviewers were asking him the inane questions about how icky was it to kiss another man or play a gay character and he responded that it was one of the easiest roles he's played because love is love and it wasn't a big deal. (Something like that.) Kudos for him for not playing the "oh it was so hard etc." card back then, but I believe actors wanted his "overcoming the angst" to play the role scenario and when he said playing that aspect of his character "was easy" they didn't consider him any further. A shame. In the Todd Hayne's commentary track on the dvd there's a point where Dennis Quaid is having a scene with Julianne Moore and there's a long pause with no talking and then Todd remarks how great Dennis Quaid was in that moment.

    I love the score, too, it hits all the right notes (discordant and otherwise) perfectly.

    As I write this post I'm seeing how much I really think of this film! Makes me want to see it again even before the blu-ray is released!

  3. Really looking forward to this Blu-ray. When I first saw the movie at a test screening, I thought it was quite bad. I had several negative comments to write down on my comment card (they had to urge me to finish writing and leave the theater so they could meet with a select focus group). But when it was released, a friend told me it was a wonderful picture, so I went to see if they'd fixed anything. And wow, what a difference. Minor edits, color correction and a final score made a huge difference in how the story came across–most especially in a scene with Dennis and a particular young man (very sensitive material that seemed to play like an SNL sketch in the test screening)–and they ditched opening and closing voiceovers that I had complained about. Wow, I have clout! 😉 So, I went from not liking it to loving it. And yes, it missed out on so many Oscars (and Oscar nominations). Can't wait to see the gorgeous, colorful images in HD!

  4. I’m probably one of the view that thought this was a bit too derivative of Sirk- an Imitation of Sirk if you will. Unlike DePalma paying homage to Hitchcock along with abundant creativity in his films this was basically a hodgepodge remake of various Sirk films all commingled. I mean I like it but…….
    I much prefer the other Juillianne Moore film from the same year 2002 that has yet to be released on Blu-Ray- The Hours. Now where is that disc?

  5. noel aguirre

    I’m probably one of the view that thought this was a bit too derivative of Sirk- an Imitation of Sirk if you will. Unlike DePalma paying homage to Hitchcock along with abundant creativity in his films this was basically a hodgepodge remake of various Sirk films all commingled. I mean I like it but…….

    Well…part of the idea was to incorporate contemporary themes (in 2002) to a 1950's movie sensibility, as if Sirk had made a film dealing with those issues during that period. (Can you imagine if he did?) Inter-racial romance, gay themes…the film does this and more, IMO.

  6. MartinP.

    Well…part of the idea was to incorporate contemporary themes (in 2002) to a 1950's movie sensibility, as if Sirk had made a film dealing with those issues during that period. (Can you imagine if he did?) Inter-racial romance, gay themes…the film does this and more, IMO.

    It didn't go far enough for me- it's good but would have been better if Dennis Quaid and Dennis Haysbert paired off and Jullianne More been seduced by Patricia Clarkson.
    But seriously it was all a little too safe and obvious for me-and a little boring- Green Bookish? Sirk's films always used lots of glamours overreaching actors reacting to shocking-for-the time themes. This had all the Sirk lighting but with method acting which to me didn't gel. I would have preferred it in a 2002 setting a la Sirk- like Depalma did with all his Hitchcock films.
    Were there any other great Todd Haynes film after this?

  7. TravisR

    Wonderstruck is pretty good too.

    I was just going to say that. You beat me in here by a few minutes.

    (But seriously, I fully endorse Wonderstruck as a fantastic motion picture and everybody should see it. It's on Prime for those who have that.)

  8. noel aguirre

    But seriously it [Far From Heaven] was all a little too safe and obvious for me-and a little boring- Green Bookish? Sirk's films always used lots of glamours overreaching actors reacting to shocking-for-the time themes. This had all the Sirk lighting but with method acting which to me didn't gel. I would have preferred it in a 2002 setting a la Sirk- like Depalma did with all his Hitchcock films.

    I guess we are just on opposite sides of the fence concerning this film. I find it near perfect. I've seen the film many times and never once found it boring, Nor do I think Green Book is boring, which I've seen twice. IMO, Far From Heaven wouldn't have worked at all if it were set in 2002. You mention you felt it was safe and obvious, but if you think of it as having been a film that came out in 1957-58, which I believe was the intent of the film, it would've been anything but safe and obvious.

  9. MartinP.

    IMO, Far From Heaven wouldn't have worked at all if it were set in 2002.

    It wouldn't have been this movie. It would have been something very different. This movie is exactly what it's meant to be.

    I was actually anxious to get home from work today so I could watch this. First, the picture is stunning. Soft, smooth, gentle but, at the same time, with an outrageous pastel palate. Also, the soundtrack is just silky. It struck me how silky right from the start. I've only ever seen it on DVD, so this presentation was everything I had hoped. My old plasma was the perfect way to reproduce it.

    It's the first time I've watched Far From Heaven in several years. It's interesting how some movies can change depending on the day and your frame of mind. I think one of the strengths of the story is that intolerance is portrayed in so many directions. In fact, there's really only character, Cathy (Julianne Moore) who never seems to reject anyone or anything. It can seem like it's almost entirely about racial intolerance, but that's far from the case. There is also the institutional intolerance toward Frank, (Dennis Quaid), or at least that Frank would face, if anyone found out, but what I appreciate is that it doesn't play favorites. No intolerance is let off the hook. Near the end, the one character who seems truly accepting, other than Cathy, finally is pushed too far. I don't mean to short change Raymond (Dennis Haysbert) with that comment. He recognizes the inequities he faces, he's just more willing to accept them than Cathy. Then again, he probably has less of a choice. One of the most interesting aspects of the story is that the tolerance and understanding Frank receives from Cathy is not returned in kind.

  10. A friend of mine had two free tickets to a preview just before opening. He asked me to go and we loved it.

    I immediately recognized the Sirk style and left the theater comparing it to All That Heaven Allows. That film has pointedly negative comments about television, and Dennis Quaid's character works for a television manufacturer (one of many deft touches). It was surprising to see a gay theme handled in a Sirkian style. Note the psychiatrist who says we handle this issue in a "modern" way. In the 50s, people had to be modern.

    Although I have the DVD, I have ordered the Blu-ray.

  11. I have the CDs for the off Broadway musical of “Far From Heaven” staring Kelli O’Hara. I am familiar with the movie but have not seen the stage show. The music is very well done and very moving. It is well worth a listen. There is enough dialogue to easily follow the story.

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