Excellent Blu-ray editions from Criterion and the BFI respectively do full justice to Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) and Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear (1953), two very dark examinations of the post-war crisis of masculinity.
Doomed romance is offset by a vibrant sense of community in Marcel Carné’s Hôtel du Nord (1938), one of the filmmaker’s remarkable string of poetic realist masterpieces from the late 1930s to the mid-’40s. The film’s rich atmosphere comes to life in the 2K restoration used by Criterion for their new Blu-ray release.
It’s been a good year for movies on disk, with a remarkable range of releases from many companies which are devoting considerable resources to rediscovering, restoring and preserving movies in numerous genres. Ranging across nationalities and spanning cinema history, there was plenty to divert attention from a real world which has become so depressing and exhausting.
Criterion showcase a key ’50s sci-fi movie with their extras-loaded Blu-ray of Jack Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man. The 4K restoration makes this the definitive visual presentation of the film, while the numerous special features – commentary, interviews, documentary – cover the production and the critical importance of the movie in detail.
Criterion have just released Andrei Tarkovsky’s most personal Film, Mirror (Zerkalo, 1975), in an exemplary two-disk edition. The 2K restoration supplied by Mosfilm has been supplemented with four-and-a-half hours of new and archival documentaries, including a superb feature-length survey of Tarkovsky’s life and work made by his son, Andrei A. Tarkovsky, in 2019.
Dorothy Arzner’s pre-Code romantic comedy/tragedy Merrily We Go to Hell (1932) is given a gorgeous presentation by Criterion from a new 4K restoration. This story of a vibrant heiress (Sylvia Sidney) and her marriage to an alcoholic writer (Frederic March) avoids the standard Hollywood cliches which would soon become entrenched as the Production Code imposed rules of behaviour on the characters who populated studio movies.