TORN CURTAIN - BD50 - R0 - Checkdisc date 9th August 2012 Length 02:07:43 / AVC / DTS-HD MA 2 Ch. 48kHz / Confirmed AR 1.85:1
Upshot: Both this and Marnie have an unusual look on Blu-ray that I can’t accurately account for. The effect is not as pronounced on this disc as Marnie but it is still very noticeable and unimpressive. The image appears slathered with “fuzz” or “snow” which gives the effect of an old analogue TV set during stormy weather. I can’t tell why this might be. Whether it’s an appalling attempt to digitally noise reduce film grain, or something else – it’s neither filmic nor impressive in 1080p.
Pausing Torn Curtain on a particularly snowy shot results in a still image which goes some way to explaining the problem. It looks like a Georges Seurat painting, rather than a frame from a classic 35mm film. Stepping through the frames (each of which should faithfully represent each frame of the original film) reveals an unusually digital image makeup from frame to frame. In motion, the effect causes a layer of gauze that does not resemble or behave like film grain, but which it seems was intended to combat it.
Along with Frenzy (opening credit errors and the only film in the set with very excessive DVNR); Family Plot (visually very uneven, heavy digital manipulation in some scenes); Marnie (very similar issues as Torn Curtain); and to a lesser extent The Birds; I found this Torn Curtain Blu-ray very disappointing and a missed opportunity that’s only going to give the Blu-ray format a bad name.
Strangely, like The Birds, a number of shots (usually long shots) look very impressive. Medium and close-ups seem most afflicted. This is clearly not the definitive edition of Torn Curtain we were all hoping for. Now that the box set has been delayed 5 weeks (to Oct 30th in the US, and Nov 5th in the UK) it remains to be seen whether this is one of the titles that is being improved. I’m reluctant to give it a score, but it would probably be something like 4.5/10.
The official statement:
“Universal Pictures International Entertainment is moving the UK Blu-ray release of “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” to 5 November 2012. Certain imperfections with the product have come to light and, as a result, we are adjusting the release date to correct these points. Our goal is to always deliver the best possible product to our consumers.”
Unfortunately, Universal aren’t commenting further about exactly which “imperfections” they might be correcting. If I hear anything I will of course update these entries.