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Flashdance Blu-ray "What a feeling"
on 15 October 2013
Paramount have finally released Flashdance on Blu-ray Region A and B,and what a fantastic upgrade from DVD.
Blu-ray video quality:
Continuing the theme of contrasts, Lyne and cinematographer Don Peterman (Men in Black) shot a movie about artistic aspiration in the gritty urban style pioneered by Lyne's countryman Alan Parker for Fame (1980). Lyne then softened the imagery by dispersing smoke into the air in almost every shot such that, according to editor Bud Smith, there were always a few takes that couldn't be used because the actors were obscured. (Midway through production, the studio panicked and ordered that no more smoke be used, and Lyne posted an assistant to watch for the approach of any studio people, so that the smoke machine could be hidden before they arrived.) The result is an often soft, delicately colored image of a type that has gone almost entirely out of fashion in today's world of digital photography and post-production.
Paramount/Warner's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray is a superb rendition of Lyne's and Peterman's vision, as it was seen by audiences in 1983. The grain and texture of the imagery have been retained without diminishment, but they never become obtrusive (unless one is allergic to even a hint of grain). No attempt has been made to compensate for the original photography's softness with digital tools, which is the correct choice, because the image has fine detail that artificial sharpening or excessive contrast could easily overwhelm. Besides, Lyne and Peterman carefully designed Flashdance for visual contrast between the muted everyday world and the garishly "hyper-real" stage show at Mawby's, with its intense colors and bright lights. A Blu-ray treatment that failed to render both ends of this contrast accurately would not do justice to the film. This Blu-ray does.
Blacks are deep and accurate, and shadow detail is properly rendered in places where you're supposed to see it. Minutia of hair, faces, costumes and the rusting Pittsburgh cityscape are readily discernible, even if they don't pop off the screen in every scene (they're not supposed to). The average bitrate of 26.44 Mbps is sufficient for the rapid dancing scenes, primarily because there are more than a few episodes of simple, quiet conversations in between. In any case, I saw no compression artifacts.
Flashdance was released in Dolby Surround and has been remixed for 5.1, which is here presented in lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1. As is typical of Paramount's remixes, the approach is conservative and does not attempt to create gimmicky rear channel effects where none are warranted. The stereo separation in the original mix was often effective in placing sounds of such locations as the steel mill to the left or right of characters, and those effects have been preserved. Otherwise, the chief beneficiary of the lossless multi-channel treatment is the historic soundtrack. The songs sound airier and more "opened up" than I have ever heard them before, from the moment Irene Cara's voice comes in over the opening titles. The dialogue is occasionally overwhelmed by Giorgio Moroder's instrumental score, but this has always been the case with Flashdance. The sound mixers understood what was important, and dialogue took a backseat to the beat.
Paramount has released four DVD editions of Flashdance. The first in 2002 was featureless. A "special collector's edition" in 2007 added the array of features that have been ported over to this Blu-ray; that edition was reissued in 2010 (without the "special collector's edition" label) under the same cover used for the Blu-ray. In between, in 2009, Paramount re-released the featureless disc as part of their "I Love the 80s" series but included with it a limited edition CD of the soundtrack.
Note that all of the featurettes listed below are essentially part of the same documentary, cut up into segments.
The History of Flashdance (1080p; 1.78:1; 14:43): Lyne, Bruckheimer, associate producer Lynda Obst, Michael Nouri and actor Kyle T. Heffner (who played Richie the cook and aspiring comic) discuss the origin of the project, although there is reportedly much more to the story than they relate. For example, no mention is made of the involvement of other directors, although Brian De Palma was reportedly attached for a time, before leaving to make Scarface.
The Look of Flashdance (1080p; 1.78:1; 9:13): The same group, plus editor Bud Smith and costume designer Michael Kaplan, discuss the film's visual style, especially its costumes.
Flashdance The Choreography (1080p; 1.78:1; 10:10): The important new participant here is choreographer Jeffrey Hornaday. Lyne also discusses the various stunt doubles used to transform Beals into an extraordinary dancer, as well as the "dancing cop" sequence.
Flashdance: Music and Songs (1080p; 1.78:1; 6:14): Giorgio Moroder and music supervisor Phil Ramone are the key participants here. (Note that Bruckheimer says he always referred to the film as a musical.)
Releasing the Flashdance Phenomenon (1080p; 1.78:1; 8:53): Bruckheimer, Lyne and others discuss the film's release and its surprising success.
Teaser Trailer (1080p; 1.78:1; 1:31): Tantalizing.
Trailer (1080p; 1.78:1; 1:58): The trailer is effective, and it includes some quick cuts of footage that did not make it into the final film. Unfortunately, no deleted scenes appear to have survived.
I don't know when Flashdance will be released in the U.K but their is no need to wait, buy this U.S version with confidence it plays on U.K players.