Monday 26 December 2022

WARNER BROS TURNS 100 IN 2023 - David Hare welcomes some new Blu-ray editions especially MILDRED PIERCE (Michael Curtiz, USA, 1945)

Jack Carson, Joan Crawford, Mildred Pierce

 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros.  

And that event brings a massive flush of new 4K re-scan restorations throughout the year, among them Rio Bravo, North by Northwest and - hopefully The Searchers with color restored to original values.

And Criterion’s re-issue of their 2012 Blu-ray of Mildred Pierce is being toppled for the anniversary with this new 4K scan UHD disc.

Apart from noting the pre-eminence of Joan over Bette for snatching first place in the race to new media, my mind was cast back to the early days of DVD itself, to 2003 when Warner released a brand new “restoration” of Mildred by a then guru of the new digital media which committed every crime from the book of how not to digitize analog 35mm sources. Limitless sharpening to accentuate edge details in the image (high frequency noise), black boosting and tonal manipulation that gave the narrowest dynamic range possible (worse than VHS tape from digibeta ) and king hit with massive grain removal to render the image effectively into plastic, the very sort of plastic indeed that Joanie herself might have enforced on her own tyrannical household to protect the furniture in plastic covers from grubby, shat-upon Cristina. 

Or so might have Mildred to preserve her couches from Veda’s grubby paws (“that’s nice dear, what is it?” “It’s Chopin’s Valse Brillante. Mother. That means brilliant waltz.” “Yes dear.”)
Now all those digital crimes from 30 odd years ago are washed away with a new 4K from first gen elements. And Steiner’s big striding award-winning score in full blown lossles PCM mono.
I for one cannot wait.

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