Friday, July 26, 2019

Romance Finally In HD!

Okay, so they didn't quite make their April 19th release date, but that's okay.  Second Sight's blu-ray of Romance has finally arrived!  This should be especially big news for anyone who still has the US DVD, which wasn't even anamorphic.  I've already covered a good deal about this release when it was announced, though now that it's landed I can now confirm all of that info was correct: it is indeed uncut and the three promised interviews are on there...  Even on the packaging, they still don't tell us any information about this new scan: is it 2k, 4k or what?  If they'd sprung for 4k, though, I'm sure they would've told us, so I think it's safe to assume it's not.  But now that we have it in-hand, we can take a close up look, and even make a DVDExotica-style screenshot comparison to the old DVD, so let's do that!
US 2000 Lions Gate DVD on top; UK 2019 Second Sight BD bottom.
So I left the negative space around the first set of shots so you can get a clearer idea of the framing, and just how annoying non-anamorphic DVDs are in the age of modern, widescreen monitors.  It just floats there in a sea of negative space.  Anyway, the aspect ratio is almost the same, with the blu-ray slightly correcting the DVD's 1.61:1 to a properly pillar-boxed 1.66:1.  This essentially means the blu-ray has a little extra information along the left-hand side, and a sliver along the top.  The DVD's also slightly vertically squished.  Colors and levels are pretty much the same, although the BD is a bit on the light, or even pale, side.  Detail and resolution, however, are a massive leap forward in PQ.  You can see the film grain, making it look like a proper movie, unlike the DVD, which smears and compresses everything fine away.  The picture is decidedly sharper now, with no unwanted tinkering (i.e. edge enhancement, artificial sharpening or digital noise reduction), presented in 1080p with a high bitrate on a dual-layered disc.

The BD does pare away some language options, but it keeps the only important stuff, so I'm fine with it.  The DVD had both the original French audio and a slightly cringey English dub, both in Dolby stereo, as well as English, French and Spanish subtitles.  Second Sight ditches the dub, giving us just the French audio with optional English subtitles.  And Second Sight does add something to the audio mix, giving us the choice of the original stereo mix or a 5.1 remix, both in lossless DTS-HD.
And, of course, they've finally made it a bit of a special edition.  Each of the interviews is roughly 20 minutes, and are a must-watch for any fan of the film.  A minor disappointment is a lack of the trailer, which even the old Trimark DVD had (remember "www...taste... romance... com?").  So okay, that and it's a shame to lose the English dub, even if it's just to amuse yourself by snickering at.  But it all adds up to a teensy tiny step backwards and a massive leap forwards.  Great news for us Breillat fans, so let's hope they tackle another one of her films soon!