I just got a Blu-ray player (finally) and was able to watch my first Blu-ray disc; the 50th Anniversary edition of North by Northwest. I have to say, the results were mixed (both for Blu-ray, and for this particular disc.)
I have a 36” Sony tube HDTV which is getting on in years. One problem is that 36”, when you’re sitting across the room from it, isn’t really stretching the limits of DVD resolution. Yes, there was a noticeable difference up close; I could read quite easily body copy on a newspaper that was very blurry on the DVD. The resolution was there, but I really need either a bigger screen, or to sit right on top of the TV to see it.
All those with 50” TV’s, run out and get Blu-ray.
This edition is remastered, and from the get go the differences are very obvious; the hideous green of the MGM logo in the previous DVD release is replaced by a much more pleasing green in this new edition. Through the rest of the picture the colors are more vibrant, and there’s much more contrast. There’s extensive use of rear-projection in the movie, and I think that looks better too (though it’s still obvious.)
There’s a lot to like about the new picture, but there’s also things not to like. I did feel that the picture was a little too black. I usually have the set on its “Movie” picture mode, which is a bit darker than Standard, but I’ve watched hundreds of other DVDs on this set and not felt they were “dark.” This remaster just seems to have a lot more shadows; I don’t know if that’s a result of adjustments made to increase contrast, or whether the picture was supposed to be that way, but it was noticeable.
Worse, the flesh tones seem unnatural for just about everybody. About the only one that looked halfway natural was the actress playing Cary Grant’s mother, and I wonder if that’s because she had on a lot of makeup to make her face look pale. I really found it jarring.
Others have noted that the sound is way down on this disc, and I was surprised how high I had to crank the amp to get an acceptable level. I really think a mistake was made on this.
Ultimately, I like the movie so much I can overlook the problems. Is it the ultimate edition? No. Hopefully by the time the 100th Anniversary edition comes out they can do something to the skin tones and adjust the audio volume.
Who should buy? If you have a very large screen TV, buy the Blu-ray disc. But if you already have the previous release DVD, and are happy with it, I’m not sure I’d rush out and buy this edition.