Reds (Paramount; Movie ••••; HD DVD Picture ••••, Sound •••½; Blu-ray Picture •••½, Sound •••½; Original Extras •••½, New Extras: None). Although Reds was made in times long gone & 1981 & the romantic, epic telling of radical American journalists' involvement in the Russian Revolution has been recently restored, and it really shows. Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro gives interiors a dark look, with lots of silhouettes and shrouded portions of the screen. But although this blackness is very inky in the transfer, there's quite a bit of grain. In exteriors, colors are rich and beautiful. And in the interviews with survivors of the times, you can see every crow's-foot on the very natural-looking skin. With all these different cinematic styles, there's a wide range of clarity, crispness, and depth to bodies and faces, but the transfer (spread across two discs) stays true to the original intent for each sequence and carries all its beauty.
It's a shame that the 5.1-channel remix from mono is so restrained in using the surrounds, as it would be great to be immersed in all the political rallies and marches. Still, the dialogue, the period music, and Stephen Sondheim's themes come across well, as does a thunderous reindeer stampede.
The Blu-ray Disc's picture is ever so slightly softer and fuzzier, the HD DVD having greater contrast, richer blacks, and deeper images in crowd scenes. The differences between the soundtracks are just as small: The Dolby Digital Plus on the HD DVD seems a little warmer, clearer, and fuller, whereas the Dolby Digital 5.1 on Blu-ray is slightly strident in the upper registers.
Extras on both editions include an hour of interviews with writer/producer/director/star Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and other cast members. Beatty's multitasking allows him to talk about all aspects of the film in a knowledgeable way. And Nicholson is appreciative without gushing (it's Jack, after all) about Diane Keaton's funny and passionate performance.
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