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Customer Review

on 1 February 2013
First off I am a HUGE fan of this series and this is the third time I have bought a copy (mainly because of the promised restoration, commentaries and documentary) but this is by far the worst copy I have seen (even including VHS).

The adaptation by the late, and much missed, John Mortimer is a work of true genius and should be required watching/reading for all aspiring adaptors for the screen - it is true to the original and captures just about every nuance of the book and the production values so perfect that I find it impossible to read the book now without the tone of Jeremy Iron's voice pervading the pages and the visuals of Castle Howard. The more recent movie adaptation by Andrew Davies is a pale travesty in comparison and far removed from this wonderful adaptation produced by Granada TV.

Now on to this 'product' ...

It proclaims itself the 30th Anniversary Edition and Digitally Remastered - well whoever did the remastering either worked from a very degraded tape or just did and truly awful job and should be sacked so they cannot be let near archive material again.

The colours in this release are truly dreadful being almost completely washed out. Every shot, especially outdoors, looks like the film was badly over exposed so the greens of the fields and trees have no depth (and no mid or low tones), the skies are almost universally washed out and white or, at best, a slightly bluish-grey. The worst is that skin tones are appalling - everyone looks seriously ill, even in the happy early episodes - they all share a grey pallor.

I couldn't quite believe what I was looking at so I dug out an old DVD copy (see Brideshead Revisited: the Complete Series [DVD] [1981] ) and compared the scenes in the first episode where Charles meets Julia and they arrive at Brideshead. The older edition (which was remastered too) is beautiful and vibrant. The colours pop - the slight sexual tension Charles feels as he lights a cigarette for Julia and places it between her lips makes sense as the greens of the surrounding nature and the red of her lips are emphasised, he skies are blue and their skin tones look full of youthful promise.

If you want a decent copy of this series I recommend the older edition strongly. OK It is more expensive and harder to get hold of but it is a treasure. You don't get the commentary or documentary in the older edition but the series is the important part.

The packaging on the older edition is also rather lovely with beautiful two sided artwork on textured card (almost a vellum finish) with a fold out set of separate DVD trays. The episodes are also listed, with cast cameos. The new version is a cheap plastic DVD case holding four DVDs in compact/stacked format but no artwork and no episode list. For an edition supposed to commemorate the 30th anniversary they seem to have gone out of their way to make it as cheap and tacky as possible - even the external artwork is pretty bland.

The programme: More stars than I can give, it is one of the pinnacles of television achievement and outclasses almost all big screen adaptations
This release: If I could give less than zero I would.

Overall I gave this 3 stars because I can't fault the script, acting, directing or filming but it is impossible to recommend this release. The earlier edition would get 5 stars from me.
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Product Details

4.6 out of 5 stars