The Criterion Collection
review by Zach B.
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz
Written and Directed by: Brian De Palma
Retail Price: $39.95
Features: Noah Baumbach Interviews Brian De Palma, Nancy Allen Interview, Garrett Brown Interview, Louis Goldman Photographs, Murder A La Mod, Theatrical Trailer
Specs: 2.40:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Surround, English Subtitles, Chapters (17 Chapters)
Released: April 26th,
Blow Out is
presented in a 1080p High Definition transfer, with the aspect ratio
of 2.40:1, and which was supervised by director Brian De Palma. There's
a lot going on in the movie, and the picture quality certainly keeps
up. Black levels are outstanding, as is shadow detail — crucial given
the film's moody atmosphere. Detail in general is well-refined, while
fleshtones come off as accurate. There is a little shimmering, but the
amount of film grain that appears feels just right. Color saturation is
fulfilling too without going overboard. This is a fine transfer that
wonderfully represents the film's enrapturing visuals.
Blow Out features
a 2.0 Surround track in DTS-HD Master Audio. Sure, it'd be great if it
was possible to make this a full-bodied remix, but the track here does
justice to a movie that has such a strong emphasis on sound. Surround
effects go a long way in this track: they are crisp, clear and build
tension. They're crucial, and come through as dynamic and pulsing when
they need to be. The sound puts you with the characters and their
brushes with danger, making for a very engaging listening experience.
Dialogue is also easy to hear, while the music score from Pino Donaggio
— which is heavy on the bass — sounds rich. This is a well-rounded
track that does not disappoint.
English subtitles are included.
There's no commentary on the disc, but the 58 minute Noah Baumbach Interviews Brian De Palma makes
up for that. Utilizing clips from the film to make points during the
discussion, Baumbach asks good questions to the filmmaker about the
film's creation and production. De Palma talks about his initial
inspirations for the movie, and lets us in on some of the challenges of
the shoot. There's a lot of detail about the film's visual style and
use of Steadicams, which is quite interesting. De Palma is a friendly
and open presence here. It's an intelligent and easygoing conversation,
while De Palma does conclude it was a fun film to make.
Coming in at 25:25 is the Nancy Allen Interview.
Like her ex-husband, Allen also comes off as a warm and friendly
presence in her discussion. Allen talks about originally meeting John
Travolta during auditions for Carrie,
her initial thoughts on the script and her character. Allen admits to
struggling in "making the character work" for her early on, but her
approach to Sally comes off as rather thoughtful. She talks about
Travolta getting involved in this movie, other reservations and shares
her own array of production stories. This is another wonderful watch,
as we learn about the movie's production from the perspective of a
Running 15 minues is the Garrett Brown Interview.
Brown is the inventor of the Steadicam system, and shows off his
invention and what makes it so special. Brown is quite passionate here,
to the point where it is infectious. He shows recent innovations with
his system, including an iPhone handle. Besides that, Brown talks about
coming into Blow Out from The Shining,
and takes us through making the "Co-ed Frenzy" scene that opens the
movie, complete with his own entertaining stories. This plays like a
master class, and if you're into the technical aspect of filmmaking,
it's utterly fascinating. Too bad this interview does not run even
A treat for De Palma fans is the inclusion of his 1967 movie Murder A La Mod. There are elements in it similar to Blow Out, and "Murder" even makes a cameo in Blow Out. The 80 minute movie is in full frame and divided into 10 chapters.
There are also several Louis Goldman Photographs to view that were taken during the production, and the film's original Theatrical Trailer. d
The booklet includes an essay by critic Michael Sragow, and Pauline Kael's review of the film that appeared in The New Yorker.
Blow Out is
a surprising-but-superb choice for The Criterion Collection: this is a
somewhat forgotten 1980s gem that is ripe for re-discovery. This
Blu-ray is nothing short of fantastic: a visual and sonic tour-de-force
from De Palma, the film's presentation is terrific. And while there are
only a few extra features, they offer a solid look at the making of the
movie (plus you get a bonus De Palma feature). This is another high
quality release from Criterion, and well worth seeking out.