In Slate this morning, film critic Fred Kaplan sings the praises of the upcoming Blu-ray DVD release of Orson Welles’ classic “Citizen Kane.” This is, hands-down, one of my top two or three favorite films of all time. And Kaplan makes a compelling argument for purchasing a Blu-ray player so you can see this film in its full glory.
Here’s the nut graf:
“That [Kane] 2002 DVD was a revelation at the time, so much brighter and clearer than the murky 16 mm prints that most of us had seen on TV or at college film societies. But as DVD technology improved, as digital artisans refined their skills, and as the studios released discs of other classic films that bore the fruits of this progress (e.g., the gorgeous DVDs of Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Maltese Falcon, and even old silents by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin), the digital Citizen Kane didn’t hold up. It was too bright, too clean; the dirt and grime had been cleared away, but so had a good deal of the texture, the depth, and the sense of film grain. (John Lowry, the brilliant pioneer in digital restoration who worked on that version of Kane, admitted to me a couple years later that he’d gone too far; the field was still very young, he said, and it took him a while to learn all its lessons.)
The new Blu-ray is just as spotless (more so, actually), but it also retains the texture, the grain, and all the rest. In those startling shots where director Orson Welles and his cinematographer, Greg Toland, light the set so everything from close-up foreground to distant background is in focus, we finally do see everything clearly. In that last shot of all of Kane’s discarded junk in the warehouse, we see what all the junk is. Facial expressions, bric-a-brac on shelves, the full jolt of the jump-cuts from a dark scene to a bright scene and all the shades-of-gray scenes in between—everything is clear and looking very much like film.”
Read the full story here.