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Images
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary by Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger
  • Scene-select commentary by writer-director Robert Altman
  • Interview with Robert Altman
  • Brand new interview with actor Cathryn Harrison
  • An appreciation by musician and author Stephen Thrower
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Carmen Gray and an extract from Altman on Altman

Images

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Robert Altman
1972 | 101 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: Arrow Academy
MVD Visual

Release Date: March 20, 2018
Review Date: March 20, 2018

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amazon.com  amazon.ca

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SYNOPSIS

The early seventies were a period of remarkable activity for Robert Altman, producing masterpiece after masterpiece. At the time he came to make Images, MASH and McCabe & Mrs. Miller were behind him, with The Long Goodbye, California Split and Nashville still to come. Originally conceived in the mid-sixties, Images concerns a pregnant children's author (Susannah York, who won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival) whose husband (Rene Auberjonois) may or may not be having an affair. While on vacation in Ireland, her mental state becomes increasingly unstable resulting in paranoia, hallucinations and visions of a doppelgänger. Scored by an Oscar-nominated John Williams, with "sounds" by Stomu Yamash'ta (The Man Who Fell to Earth), Images also boasts the remarkable cinematography of Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind).


PICTURE

Robert Altman’s Images comes to Blu-ray via Arrow Academy, presented on this dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes from a new 4K restoration, scanned from the 35mm original camera negative.

Though it doesn’t go to anywhere near to the same extreme as Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Images has a very grainy look, and it’s pretty much always front and center but I’m happy to say it’s rendered just about perfectly, lending it that filmic look I like. Since grain has been left intact and it’s obvious that manipulation and/or noise reduction has been kept to a minimum, detail levels are high and the image never seems to soften or weaken. The only place it can lag is in a few darker shots where the blacks are a bit thick and the details get hidden within them. This could be a byproduct of the original photography but I must admit I’m not entirely sure.

In terms of the restoration and source materials the image is almost spotless. A handful of minor marks remain but this image is very clean, clearly a lot of effort having gone into this. Overall it’s a really spectacular looking presentation, Arrow having done an amazing job on the restoration and taking a hands off approach in the digital tinkering.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The lossless 1.0 PCM track sounds fine, though isn’t anything special. Dialogue is clear and I didn’t detect any severe damage, but there is a general flatness to everything, with the score trying to break through that.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Arrow carries everything over from the previous MGM DVD while adding a few of their own features. The big addition to this edition is an all new audio commentary featuring Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger. The two discuss the film as a women’s picture, even suggesting it could be seen as part of a trilogy that also includes That Cold Day in the Park and 3 Women. The two also talk about the possible influences behind this film, everything from Ingmar Bergman’s Persona and Roman Polanski’s Repulsion to the Italian giallo sub-genre as a whole. They also talk about the film on a few other levels, like the psychology of the title character, and even get into detail about Susannah York’s unicorn book, which is read throughout the film. The two keep the track engaging, managing to jump around naturally between many topics that relate to the film, even in minor ways.

Not as rewarding I’m disappointed to say is the select-scene commentary from Altman, made for the MGM disc. It’s okay, but despite covering only 35-minutes’ worth of the film there is still a surprising amount of dead space. He talks a bit about the look of the film, trying to capture the character’s psychology through it, and other technical aspects. It’s nice that it was carried over but after the previous track this one ends up being underwhelming.

Imagining “Images” is a 24-minute documentary, also made for the MGM disc. It features Altman and what I would call a walk-on cameo by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. This is basically an expansion on the commentary track, Altman touching a number of subjects like the reasoning behind the film’s primary location, casting, John Williams’ score, and so on. On top of that Altman even talks a little about his own work in general and his preferred way for working with actors. I preferred this vastly over Altman’s commentary track.

We then get a couple of new interviews, including a 6-minute one with actor Cathryn Harrison and a 32-minute “appreciation” by Stephen Thrower. Harrison recalls being cast for the film (and how this happened would probably get the casting agent arrested today) while Thrower offers a real defense for the film. He does touch on subjects covered elsewhere (the inspiration behind the film, the music, the visuals and psychological nature of the character) but he expands on the film’s reception and pushes his idea the film is not a “psychological thriller” but a “horror” film, feeling that people don’t like labeling more ambitious films such because it somehow delegitimizes them. I was a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed his contribution to this release.

The disc then closes with the film’s original theatrical trailer (which I guess does technically have a fairly big spoiler) and one of Arrow’s typically excellent booklet. It starts with an excellent essay on the film by Carmen Gray and then finishes with a reprint of an interview between David Thompson and Altman from 2006 and first published in Altman on Altman. The booklet is only limited to first printings.

Even if I was a little underwhelmed by the MGM features that were carried over I was more than thrilled with the new content Arrow has added, which all offer rich and valuable insights into the film.

8/10

CLOSING

Arrow has put together an exceptional edition for this film, which not only sports some insightful and engaging supplements, but it also features one hell of a visual presentation.




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