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O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 September 2011
ImageAt long last, Joel and Ethan Coen film fans can rejoice in the Blu-ray release of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?.”  Arguably, it is one of their best films, but as a Coen fan they are really hard to ranked in order of best to worst.

“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and is a smart, witting and musical masterpiece.  Unlike “The Big Lebowski,” “OBWAT” was a bigger mainstream success, garnering Oscar nominations.  Chances are that you are already a fan of the film, but if you are looking for an in-depth review of the film itself please visit our review by clicking here.

The star of this Blu-ray release is the video transfer.  It is minted from a brand new digital restoration print.  “OBWAT” is the first film in the United States to have been completely created in the digital domain.  That being the case, it should go without saying that this film looks spectacular, right?  Absolutely.  Using a digital format, the filmmakers were able to created the sepia and dusty look of “OBWAT” to a degree that film would never have let them do.

The transfer of this Blu-ray was supervised by cinematographer, Roger Deakins back in 2010.  Like “Star Wars,” it seems that controversy over the accuracy of the colors is already becoming an issue.  Seriously, who are you going to trust, the filmmakers or your own opinion of what the film originally looked like in your memory?  Okay, so given George Lucas as an example, perhaps trusting the filmmakers to give the audience the original film in all its glory isn’t a good example.  But, in this, I can tell you that “OBWAT” looks superior to any print that I have ever seen.  Advanced digital technologies were used in this films restoration (ha, restoration for a 2000 film).  In addition, being a digital format film, you can’t really trust those 35mm film projectors to accurately portray the once digital information.  Just like transfer a CD to cassette, information gets changed in the digital to analog conversion process. Anyway, “OBWAT” is a detailed transfer with its prevailing softness.  Yes, the two coexist on the same plane.  The details and textures in every nook and cranny of this image are beyond belief.  And trust me when I say this because I did my viewing of the film on a 9-foot screen.  Color reproduction is better than any previous release of the film.  While colors are limited to the yellow, brown and orange hues, the balance is maintained throughout.  Contrast levels are perfect, rendering every light source accurately.  The black levels are deep and revealing.  The resolution of the black levels leave shadowed details visible.

Whether you are scrutinizing the foreground or the background, or both at the same time, you will be hard pressed to find a flaw in this video transfer.  The film has never look so good.

Another important aspect of this Blu-ray release is the audio transfer.  As one of the most successful selling soundtracks of all time the studio was gracious enough to give us an outstanding audio transfer, presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1.  The music in the film is forceful and graceful at the same time.  The clarity of the bluegrass instruments, particularly the banjo is incredible.  The bass end of things can get just a bit sloppy here and there.  However, this is an extremely minor nitpick on my part.  The LFE is not powerful in the film, relying more on the main channel bass.  The surround channels are used sparingly, as they are in most Coen brothers’ films.  To this end, the sound is accurate to the source material, but of course disappointing in terms of immersion.  While my sound design would have been different, I cannot fault the transfer for any of the lacking sound elements.  This audio track is faithful to the original.  Dialogue is clean and surprisingly clear for such thick accents.  There may be a line or two that skate by with minimal clarity.  Overall, dynamics and frequency range are excellent.  The audio isn’t as impressive as the video, but it does remain in the same league.

The Blu-ray release of the film does not contain anything new in terms of bonus materials.  In fact, it is fairly disappointing.  Fans will not be happy.  Since I am not a big bonus materials fan, I’m glad the space on the disc was used for video quality.  All the bonus materials have been ported from the DVD release and are in standard definition.

The bonus materials consist of all brief segments including; a making-of, storyboard to scene comparisons, a music video and trailers.  That’s it folks.  Not a commentary nor a deleted scene.  Nada.

“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” is not well liked by everyone.  However, those that fans know it and will most definitely have to add this title to their collection.

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