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Stop apologising for bad Blu Ray transfers!
on 31 May 2011
There is one inescapable fact that the apologists for the poor Blu Ray transfer of 'The French Connection' seem determined to ignore. While The Blu Ray of 'The French Connection II' is superior to the DVD release, the Blu Ray of the first movie is noticeably inferior to the DVD release. You'd have to be blind not to notice this.
Friedkin has overly tinkered with the transfer resulting in a distinct change to the colour timing, an overabundance of digital noise and a wiping out of fine detail due to ham-fisted application of Digital Noise Reduction.
A prime example of the latter is a long focus shot down a New York street showing the skyline and apartment building rooftops at the rear of the shot. Far more fine detail is visible in the DVD - in the Blu Ray there has been so much DNR applied that the television aerials have disappeared from the rooftops whereas they are clearly visible on the DVD. I thought one of the ideas behind Blu Ray was greater detail and resolution, not less?
This is not the first back catalogue title that Fox has managed to screw up for Blu Ray, several of which are so bad they are to be replaced with newly remastered versions. Moaning that people are being picky or overly technical is simply not good enough - your moaning should be directed at the studios producing sub-standard product. We also had this debate with the Blu Ray release of 'Gladiator', another DNR disaster, with apologists saying "Stop moaning it's fine!". In the end enough people complained and Universal withdrew the original discs and replaced the release with a brand new transfer that showed the original release up for the botch job that it was.
I'll leave the last word on the 'French Connection' Blu Ray transfer with the man who actually shot the film, cinematographer Owen Roizman...
"Billy [Friedkin] for some reason decided to do this on his own. I wasn't consulted. I was appalled by it. I don't know what Billy was thinking. It's not the film that I shot, and I certainly want to to wash my hands of having had anything to do with this transfer, which I feel is atrocious."
He later called it an "emasculated" and "horrifying" transfer, and said "it would be a travesty to see The Exorcist [which Roizman also shot] transferred in this fashion."
Following this controversy, Warner Brothers removed supervision of the Blu Ray transfer of "The Exorcist" from Friedkin's control and handed the reins over to Roizman.
Be patient - the controversy over this title has really hit sales in the USA. Fox will eventually replace it with a new release as they are in the process of doing with other problematic Blu Ray transfers.