Thursday, 21 April 2016

"Michael Collins: 20th Anniversary Edition" on BLU RAY (2016 'Warner Archives Collection' Reissue) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...Promise Not To Love Me..." 

I won't debate "Michael Collins" as a movie (it still stands up after 20 years having just re-watched it) - but I will rave about the 2K Restoration on this new March 2016 Warner Brothers "20th Anniversary" BLU RAY reissue.

First up the picture is clearly frame-by-frame restored and looks fabulous. There are even scenes indoors with Stephen Rea in Dublin Castle amidst his intelligence papers and the crowd sequences with Alan Rickman (brilliant as the political eel that was Eamon De Valera, Ireland's first President) where the word 'beautiful' leaps to mind. Much of the movie is filmed at night and in foggy streets - so the restoration was always going to be a challenge to keep that fuzz and grain at bay while at the same time retain the natural colours of the film intact. And this transfer has achieved that. When you watch the 9 or 10 short deleted scenes (mostly containing Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn as Michael Collins and Harry Boland larking about) - you see the untreated film stock with its scratches and lines and realise what a great job has been done on the released movie.

The extras include:
A feature-length Commentary by Director NEIL JORDAN
In Conversation with Neil Jordan (new)
The South Bank Show Special from 1996
Theatrical Trailer
Deleted Scenes (about 10)

The new "In Conversation With Neil Jordan" has him reminiscing (in Warner Brothers seating) about the making of the film and 20 years of hindsight (Ireland was only just emerging out of the Troubles with both the IRA and The UVF having cease-fired when it was being made) - but it's criminally short and not particularly informative. A hundred times better is the near 50 minutes of "The South Bank Show" filmed in 1996 just after the launch of the movie. It features properly in-depth interviews with Director and Writer Neil Jordan, Tim Pat Coogan the Irish Author of Collins' life, Unionist peacemaker David Ervine and England's film and book critic Tom Paulin. It also has Producer Stephen Wooley fondly discussing the use of Dublin as a set (the whole city – unprecedented access) - the 5000 extras who turned up in period costumes for the shoot - short interviews with Neeson and glimpses of on-set shooting (Julia Roberts, Stephen Rea, Ian Hart and Brendan Gleeson). It goes into Collins' early 20's life as a worker in England for the Post Office, his grounding in Accounting so that he managed the finances of the revolution and in particular the paradox of the man - part gentleman - part ruthless killer - and probably the inventor of modern-day guerrilla warfare. It talks also of his eventual assassination by his own army in Cork at the age of 31 and how Jordan re-wrote the Croak Park black and tan murders and that controversial 'was De Valera involved in the assassination, possibly ordered it' scene (which Jordan argues was never his intention).

The BLU RAY of "Michael Collins" of course also avoids that crappy 'flipper' of a DVD we've had to live with all these years where you had to turn the damn thing over to view the remainder of the movie. And in 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio – the BLU RAY fills the entire screen with a lush picture that thrills all the way to the end ("Michael Collins" looks way better than its $28 million-dollar budget). The 5.1 Audio rattles those explosions and gunfire shots around your room with renewed force and you also get to appreciate the stunning commitment of the actors involved (Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn have been lifetime friends ever since).

Part of their respected and applauded 'Warner Archive Collection' series of BR reissues - "Michael Collins" is a triumph on BLU RAY. If you love this movie - you need to own it on this format. And that truly beautiful version of "She Moves Through The Fair" by Sinead O'Connor as the credits roll still moves me to tears...

AUDIO:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
German Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1

SUBTITLES:

English (for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing), French, German (for the Hard-Of-Hearing), Spanish Castellan, Japanese, Spanish Latin, Czech, Polish, Turkish, Mandarin

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