• We’ve previously written about the new digitally restored 35 mm print of Powell and Pressburger’s ballet masterpiece The Red Shoes, which premiered at Cannes in May. (We can’t wait to see it stateside.) But how much do we really understand about what it means—and what it takes—for a classic film to go through the restoration process? Thankfully, the always engaging and informative Ian Christie has a piece in the August issue of Sight & Sound in which he not only previews the new Red Shoes but also takes us through the process of twenty-first-century movie refurbishment (from the high-res scanning of the negative to the digital removal of blemishes), which he compares to the restoration of paintings and frescos. It’s a fascinating (and accessible) look at the value of art restoration—something that’s been debated for ages—and another mouthwatering preview of the Technicolor beauty we’ll hopefully be seeing soon.

5 comments

  • By Daniel Schwartz
    August 06, 2009
    12:52 PM

    The new restoration is available in Blu-Ray from HMV.com exclusively. I have bought it and the movie plays perfectly on a Blu-Ray player that is modified to play UK Blu-Ray discs. Those discs are Region B or Zone B. Our discs in the US are Region A or Zone A. The disc will not play on a US Blu-Ray player unless it is capable of playing Region A and Region B. Also, the extras on the UK Blu-Ray disc do not all play. It appears that any motion picture (film) extra won't play because the format of them is not in Blu-Ray. The still pictures in Extras do play. Therefore the speeches of Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker at Cannes are unplayable. I have other UK Blu-Ray discs which have Extras and they play perfectly so the new Red Shoes disc has a problem. I've informed HMV about this and they refunded when I returnd the disc. It's ironic because most of the work and financing of the restoration was provided by US sources. We must now wait until the Blu-Ray US version is released. Hopefully Criterion will be able to release the new restored version soon. I can tell you, having seen the DVD, that it is the most exquisite Technicolor film ever. I own the current Criterion release of this film and the new Blu-Ray version must be added to the catalog as soon as possible.
    Reply
  • By Reduman
    August 12, 2009
    08:29 AM

    I bought this new blu-ray disc the day after its limited release in the UK in early July 2009. It is correct to say that currently the blu-ray "restoration version" of "The Red Shoes" is only available from HMV either instore, or online. (The DVD "restoration version" is available from all usual media outlets). You will, as the previous contributor correctly states, need to be able to play Region B locked material on your blu-ray player to enjoy the current version. I have two players: one for Region A and one for Region B, so I can play all content from the regions that matter to me. It was an investment that pays for itself because I import a lot of US discs. To be honest, I had never seen this movie before. I was blown away by the restored picture quality of this 61 year-old movie. Brilliant colours, wonderfully evocative sets and innovative cinematography make this take pride of place now as one of my favourite movies. Yes, it is that good - and I do not even like ballet! I am now truly having a "Powell & Pressburger" moment, catching up on their other films via the Criterion Collection. I have only one note of criticism on the UK blu-ray version - the extras are rather poor. Don't get me wrong, the movie alone is well worth the asking price. However, there is no audio commentary, no feature on the restoration process for this film. The Martin Scorcese introductory comments are fine, but too short and seem to be rushed. The sound quality on the interview with Thelma Schoonmaker (Michael Powell's widow) leaves a lot to be desired, though the lady's comments themselves are fascinating. I actually bought the Criterion edition recently, not just to view first-hand the differences between the standard and high-definition versions. The Criterion extras were also decisive in deciding on this purchase. I loved Criterion's unique commentary, though it is snow omewhat dated in its reference to the laserdisk version. I am hoping that Criterion will soon issue its own new shiny blu-ray ,super-duper, ultimate collector's edition with new commentaries, documentaries and booklet. C'mon Criterion, I know you will do it!
    Reply
  • By Bill Budris
    September 22, 2009
    03:59 PM

    I'm waiting for Criterion to issue a Blu-ray of what sounds like the "ultimate" version of "The Red Shoes". I have the original issued Criterion version prior to the follow-up on dual layer. If this newly restored version is so superb, I hope Criterion will act quickly and get this out in the US, as well as do an update to Blu-ray of Black Narcissus and The Tales Of Hoffman. The visuals and color in all are stunning. Though I know of the Fox issue of Powell & Pressburger's "A Matter Of Life & Death", Criterion should pick this one up, too, for Blu-ray.
    Reply
  • By WI_Dilettante
    October 13, 2009
    01:29 AM

    I can only echo others' request that Criterion and Janus team up for a Blu-ray (and DVD reissue) of this latest restoration. A colleague saw it in Bologna this summer and hasn't stopped raving about it. Please fast track this treasure.
    Reply
  • By C. Rutkowski
    February 02, 2010
    06:13 PM

    Would request Criterion to issue both Blue-Ray and regular DVD reissue of the 35 mm version of THE RED SHOES.
    Reply