The transfer is pretty good, but not the audio track.I was under the impression that it was a 5.1 remix, when in fact it's a 1.0 mix.This is one instance where tinkering with the audio track would have been truly unforgivable. McCabe is famous for its muddy sound and muffled dialogue. It's as integral to the effect of the film as the snowy rough-hewn setting and washed-out color scheme. There's nothing to "open up" with a 5.1 mix, and if the sound were to be cleaned up and clarified, it wouldn't be the same film.
I did notice one oddity with the disc: It wouldn't load on my Panasonic player, but worked fine in my Sony. I haven't seen other reports of problems, but that's probably because this isn't the type of film that sells millions of discs.
Visually, McCabe & Mrs. Miller is a wonderfully dense, beautifully photographed film. Much of that beauty is derived from the use of naturalistic lighting. The cold, gray light of the Canadian northwest outdoors and the warm glow of natural wood and firelight indoors. The problem is reproducing this rather dark look on video. The best attempt up to now was the letterboxed laserdisc edition released some years ago by Warner. Even then, many of the darker shots were reduced to murky, indistinct shots that could only hint at what was photographed. Warner’s new DVD edition goes a long way toward reproducing Vilmos Zsigmond’s gorgeous cinematography. Color balance is excellent with the cooler, more precise whites and grays of the snow covered landscapes and the warmer, more saturated hues of the indoor shots. The image is generally sharp with very good detail. There are a few shots that appear intentionally hazy and these are reproduced relatively cleanly with no visible pixel breakup. There is some film grain apparent throughout but the MPEG compression handles it well enough that is does appear as film grain rather than noise. Most important to this transfer is the relatively greater contrast range of the DVD format. The many darkly lit shots in this film are reproduced with greater clarity and detail than I’ve ever seen before. Blacks retain the deep, velvety smoothness required yet shadow detail is quite good. Even so, viewing in a darkened room is recommended.I've seen this film many times - on TV, on VHS, in the theaters - and it's never looked so good. "Gorgeous" I thought to myself on many occasions while watching this disc. I think Warner should be commended.
, and that music has never left me.Translation: "I wasn't around in the 70s, I have no idea how films from that era looked and sounded in theaters, and my frame of reference for reviewing DVDs is films shot and mixed in the 90s."
Well, I did see McCabe and Mrs. Miller in 1971, when it was first released. If you want to see and hear the film that Robert Altman made then, this disc can provide that experience.