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Customer Review

on 5 November 2012
As most of the reviews posted here are generic, I thought I'd compose one that is blu-ray specific. Like me, most of you will doubtless be aware of the content of these two films and remember them with much fondness. On viewing them again I was surprised at how much of the script I could actually remember despite the two decades or so since I last viewed them on VHS video, a sign perhaps of a misspent youth watching too much television.
But enough of trips down memory lane, what do the blu-rays have to offer? These are not the first 'classic' films that I have purchased on the new format, and having been impressed with the likes of Zulu and A Bridge Too Far, I was slightly disappointed as the opening credits of The Three Musketeers scrolled across the screen, superimposed over the fast moving sword-play between D'Artagnan and his father. The picture appeared blurred and suffered from excessive grain and promised little improvement over and above DVD quality. However I am pleased to report that once the titles had receded, the picture quality vastly improved. As one might expect from a brace of films that were originally filmed in 1973 and 1974 respectively, the picture remains a little grainy, especially in duller scenes such as poorly lit building interiors, where blacks appear somewhat muted and lacking in detail. Faces and clothing too appear slightly softened in such scenes and lacking in the kind of detail one has come to expect on this format. That said, in the brighter scenes the quality of the picture is quite astonishing considering the age of the original material. The extent of Optimum Classic and Studio Canals' digital restoration shines through particularly in the magnificent costumes and back-ground detail. One can see in amazing clarity, for example, the detail in the paintings hanging on the wall of the Duke of Buckinghams' gaming room, as D'Artagnan confronts the Duke with a message from the Queen of France, the paintings becoming exquisite vignettes within the main picture. I noticed no signs of blemishes or scratches and no colour-banding; the colour pallet appearing soft and warm on the interior shots and strikingly bright during exterior scenes, though the green/brown hues of the Spanish country-side remain somewhat pale. I would say that The Four Musketeers is slightly more grainy than the first film, but here too detail is pleasing and sometimes very revealing, just look at the castle in the background of the siege of La Rochelle, so obviously a matte painting. None of these minor issues, however, detract from the joy of watching such fabulous films once again. The picture quality is sufficiently good as to be pleasing and does add a fresh-face to these old comedy-actioners that far surpasses the more recent 2011 film, The Three Musketeers, in both originality and vision. A recommended purchase for lovers of the original films and for all those who love quality costume dramas that don't take themselves too seriously.
If you enjoyed this review then please read my other Blu-ray reviews, and if you find them useful, please leave feedback.
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