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To me, and many other cinephiles, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburgers’ The Red Shoes is three-strip Technicolor nirvana.

Photographed by Jack Cardiff, with production design by by Hein Heckroth, it is the epitome of filmmaking art.

The film was restored a number of years ago from the original nitrate negatives, by UCLA’s Robert Gitt – a technically challenging restoration, yielding lovely results.

I recall seeing tests at the time, and Criterion’s new 4k UHD Blu-ray is built upon that work.

Generally, I love what has been done with it, with a few caveats.

First, the dye transfer process was based upon the knowledge that the final projected image would be slightly soft, providing a velvety image in projection.

What we’re seeing here is a more highly resolved – to the grain – a variation on that concept, and a decidedly different appearnce.

From a nominal seating distance all is well, but view too closely, and the grain structure comes to the fore, and it should not.

Secondly, I’m a tad unhappy with the black levels, on both the Blu-ray as well as the 4k, as there seems to be minimal breathing room between pure blacks and those in need of a bit more air. It’s almost impossible to discern the differentiation between the satin collar of a formal jacket and the surrounding black wool. That isn’t how original prints appeared.

I was initially thinking that this was cranked up a bit by HDR or Dolby Vision , but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

There are also shots, in which contrast blooms slightly, yielding a bit of a course texture, as opposed to a more subtle, softer appearance.

All of that noted, none of it will probably ever enter the sphere of those viewing this disc, as the film remains so energizing, and in some cases hallucinatory.

It’s one of those films that becomes a brilliant first viewing experience.

As a Technicolor production, it is without a doubt, one of a handful of the most brilliant ever created. And within that group are more films by The Archers.

Is 4k necessary in the instant case?

I don’t believe so, but it certainly adds a touch of extra something.

Image – 4.5 (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Upgrade from Blu-ray – Yes, to have all the extras

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 3

Very Highly Recommended

RAH
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Robert Harris

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OLDTIMER

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I'm happy with the current release - beautiful English Technicolor of the 1940s. Which raises the question: why did English Technicolor look different from American Technicolor of the same period? Witness Black Narcissus, Thief of Bagdad, A Matter of Life and Death, etc. I've heard that it could be because of the iron-rich water at the British Technicolor London laboratory. Or perhaps the hazy English atmosphere (which may explain outdoor scenes). Does anybody know why?
 
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Robert Harris

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Mr. Harris, do you know if the included Blu-ray is sourced from new data, or is it the same as the previous Criterion Blu-ray release?
Not certain. Seems to match the 4k. As far as I’m aware, everything is sourced from Mr. Gitt’s UCLA work. I can imagine no reason to re-do it.
 
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Robert Harris

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I'm happy with the current release - beautiful English Technicolor of the 1940s. Which raises the question: why did English Technicolor look different from American Technicolor of the same period? Witness Black Narcissus, Thief of Bagdad, A Matter of Life and Death, etc. I've heard that it could be because of the iron-rich water at the British Technicolor London laboratory. Or perhaps the hazy English atmosphere (which may explain outdoor scenes). Does anybody know why?
Cinematographers, color advisors, and Thames water. The UK lab had a slightly warmer look.
 

david hare

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I, too, would like to know if the Blu is new and true.
Bruce Chris Galloway's review is coming later today at (gulp) criterionforum.org. He is so thorough he didn't even cut up and send back the botched Kane Blu Ray from the Criterion set but reviewed it from viewing first. I would trust his reviews along with Robert Harris above the other web reviewers. I assume it's a duplicate of the older Criterion Blu. The source encode is from the same 4K, and still in SDR Rec. 709.
 

Capt Cheese Pro

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I have the Criterion Laser and that still rocks.
Really, until holoigraphic surround cinema becomes a norm, I am thirlled with the Bluray products that are being created. But with this caveate, threre are some that are just being lazy and taking some of their current DVD offerings and doing a "Pop & Drop"release. With no new bonus materials, novideo or audio ungrades, no attention paid to their releases. Essentaily just changing the format from DVD to BRD, and just repackaging the older release hoping no one will notice.
I'm not sure why others buy BRDs but for me in most cases, it's about upgrading my collection to a cleaner/upgraded edition. Shame on any lazy company that resorts to losing the reasons for why they do what they do, or more accuratly the reasons why they got into the bisness in the first place...and Kudos to those that are commited and help to remind all of the importance of these wonderful film creations and the preservation of them for future generations to come.
 

battlebeast

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I have the original Criterion Blu ray… do I need to upgrade to the new 4K to get a new Blu ray, or will the Blu ray disc be identical to the original?
 
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