The original Blu-ray release of The French Connection had been tinkered with. Extremely. It had been supervised by director William Friedkin who stood by his crazy decisions while the film’s cinematographer, Owen Roizman, disowned the images and made clear his disgust.
The Blu-ray of The French Connection is the best print that’s ever been made of that picture, because of the process itself. Owen was not invited to be involved in the making of the Blu-ray or the DVD or the print… it was never my intention to make a dirty or grainy print of The French Connection or to pepetutate it in the new medium. The colours are Blu-ray because the Blu-ray laser reads closer to the disc… the colour is richer. The film loosk a little colder. But that’s because of the nature of the process and my taste… it is by far the best print ever made of The French Connection… [Roizman] happens to be wrong. You’re hearing this from the director of the film.
Billy for some reason decided to do this on his own… I was appalled by it. I don’t know what Billy was thinking.This was not the film that I shot. I certainly want to wash my hands of anything to do with that Blu-ray transfer because I never would have done anything like that. To me it was atrocious.
Ultimately, Roizman was involved in the Exorcist disc. And now he’s also been able to help set things straight with French Connection.
A new copy of the film has been issued, at the moment just for sale from Best Buy. Blu-Ray.com are reporting that this new version was struck from a master supervised by both Friedkin and Roizman.
After years of thinking I’d never have a hi-def copy of this rather superb thriler in my collection, the hungry little consumer imp inside me is feeling nicely relieved.
The original release even featured a self-congratulatory little mini-doc on the colour timing of the hideous version. Unsurprisingly, this has been dropped from the reissue. Also said to be missing is the BBC documentary on the film, presented by Mark Kermode. That’s already on my DVD so, really, I’m okay with that – and everybody else should be able to pick up a DVD very cheaply if they really want it.
According to The Examiner, the film is part of a new “signature series” from Fox, wherein films will be getting re-released with filmmaker approved transfers. The other disc so far released is Wall Street but the original transfer of that was just a bit off, too soft, not such a travesty, and, anyway, it’s Wall Street, not The French Connection.
Here are sample pics of the new and old Blu-rays, courtesy of Blu-ray.com.
Shame they don’t have a close up to show you. Some of those were insane. It looked more like a colorised version of a black and white film than anything else – and that’s essentially because this is how Freidkin went about building it.
Glad he’s relented.