When the ‘Alien Anthology‘ box set was released on Blu-ray a few weeks ago, most reviewers (and many fans) pointed out that only the first two movies in the series had been freshly remastered for optimal picture quality. The latter two entries were sourced from older high-def transfers prepared for the last DVD release. Now, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has spoken out about his disappointment with the treatment that his film, ‘Alien Resurrection’, received.
On his official blog, Jeunet writes:
Quand on retravaille les masters numériques, se pose toujours la question de la rénovation. jusqu’où aller pour améliorer l’image, quitte à dépasser la qualité d’origine. Sur Delicatessen, nous avons ‘dégrainé’, c’est-à-dire supprimé la presque totalité du grain sur la majorité des séquences. Il en reste un peu sur quelques plans qui avait été tournés en 400 asa, et qui seraient devenus anormalement soft si on avait poussé plus le dégrainage. Les couleurs sont celles que l’on avait toujours souhaité, et le résultat est, même s’il est imparfait, magnifique par rapport au support de départ.
Quand au Bluray ‘ALIEN ANTHOLOGIE’, la pub dit ‘En Bluray, tout le monde vous entendra crier’. Pour ça, ils ont raison ! Crier de rage ! Contrairement aux infos diffusées deci delà, non, les réalisateurs n’ont pas été concernés par la remasterisation, en tout cas pas moi. Il pararaît que la Fox y a consacré deux ans de travail. Visiblement, les Américains n’ont jamais entendu parler de dégrainage. Ce bluray a, disons, la qualité d’un DVD très moyen.
That’s in French, obviously. Since I speak about 5 words of French, and Jeunet didn’t ask where the bibliothèque is, I’m going to have to rely on a messy Google auto-translation:
When reworking the digital masters, there is always the question of renovation. go far to improve the image, even exceed the original quality. Delicatessen on, we have “finger drop”, that is to say, removed almost all the grain on most sequences. It is a little on some planes had been shot at 400 asa, and who would have become unusually soft if it had grown more dégrainage. The colors are those that we had always wanted, and the result is, even if imperfect, wonderful support from the start.
As for Bluray “ALIEN ANTHOLOGY,” the ad says “In Bluray, everyone will hear you scream.” For that, they’re right! Scream with rage! Contrary to news broadcast deci than not, the filmmakers were not concerned with the remastering, certainly not me. It Pararas that Fox has devoted two years of work. Obviously, Americans have never heard of dégrainage. This has bluray, say, a DVD quality very average.
If any of our readers are fluent in the language, perhaps one of you can clean this up for the rest of us?
[Update: The following is reader EM’s stab at it.]
When one is redoing digital masters, there’s always the question of renovation: how far to go to improve the image, even if it means exceeding the original quality. On Delicatessen, we “degrained,” i.e., removed almost all the grain on most sequences. There still is a little in some shots which had been filmed at 400 ASA and which would have become unusually soft if further degraining had been applied. The colors are what we had always wished for, and the result is – even if imperfect – magnificent when compared with the original material.
As for the ‘ALIEN ANTHOLOGY’ Blu-ray, the ad says, “In Blu-ray, everyone will hear you scream.” On that, they’re right! Scream with rage! Contrary to the information circulated here and there, no, the filmmakers were not involved with the remastering; in any case, I wasn’t. It seems that Fox has devoted two years of work to this. Obviously, the Americans have never heard of degraining. This Blu-ray has, shall we say, the quality of a very mediocre DVD.
It appears that the gist of Jeunet’s complaint is that Fox never consulted him about remastering the movie. He also seems upset that the Blu-ray hasn’t been “degrained” enough. That’s a very troubling phrase that tends to strike the fear of DNR into home theater fans, but I’m not going to jump the gun with outrage until I can read a more accurate translation to see what Jeunet actually said. Also, as we recently learned, directors sometimes throw around inaccurate buzzwords that they think will appeal to a non-techie audience.
I’ve watched all four of the movies in the ‘Alien’ set for my review in ‘Home Theater’ magazine, and it’s clear that the last two aren’t up to the same transfer quality standard as the first two. With that said, I think that ‘Alien Resurrection’ looks decent enough overall, and is a step up over the ‘Alien3’ transfer. The grain levels look fairly appropriate considering the dark and dank photographic style of cinematographer Darius Khondji. I’m sure that it could look sharper, more detailed, and perhaps a little less grainy with a new scan on state-of-the-art equipment, but it’s not terrible by any means.
(Also, at least the movie hasn’t been tinted teal in every scene.)
However, I certainly agree in principle that Fox should have consulted all four directors (assuming David Fincher would take the call) and struck new transfers for all of the movies in the expensive ‘Alien Anthology’ set, not just the first two. That’s a pretty glaring mistake in an otherwise stellar Blu-ray release.