Criterion’s new Blu-ray – and I’m complaining, as I’m thrilled to have it – is a wonderful example of something that I’ve discussed in the past – Blu-ray as bucket. Something that will hold whatever data is dumped into it.
Presumably derived from a master provided by Fox / Disney, it’s noted to be a “New 4k digital restoration,” but what precisely does that mean?
Nightmare Alley is a film in trouble, and that’s a pity.
The new release has apparently been derived from a 35mm nitrate print preserved by UCLA – in decent shape aside from some splices noted on their on-line inventory. I viewed the disc, and nothing looked problematic.
There seems to be no fine grain, a comp dupe neg at the BFI. No idea what else survives, as I’ve not looked. Possibly something at MOMA.
But it is a new 4k restoration, which would lead some to believe that it’s something special, and in some ways it is, as much of the Blu-ray looks quite nice, and certainly clean.
There are, however, shots and sequences that are extremely blown out – that might have been handled darker in the master, or at least massaged in some way. Things don’t appear final.
And hence, that bucket. Put into it whatever will fit, and off you go.
Wonderful film, with comfortable grain structure, and some occasionally lovely shots, but something for which I might withhold that “new 4k restoration” moniker, and go with something more akin to new digital clean-up, probably with a bit of de-graining thrown in as an extra added attraction.
Image – 3.75
Audio – 5
Pass / Fail – Pass
Upgrade from DVD – Yes
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