The Criterion Collection has added Blow Out to their 4K lineup. Hopefully this is only the first of Brian De Palma’s thrillers to get the upgrade, though Paramount’s The Untouchables beat Criterion to it.
4K serves De Palma’s noirish leanings well. In the opening stalker movie sequence, only the light inside the windows is visible. It’s pitch black outside, and again when Travolta goes out at night recording sound.
You still see the grain of the film as intended. That trademark split diopter shot keeps Travolta and an owl equally sharp, or Travolta listening to headphones and a squaling tire on the other half of the frame.
More heightened scenes like the pan around the sound booth exaggerates the strobe effect to an epic degree. The sights of 1981 Philadelphia are exquisite and climax in a colorful parade. The epilogue features a beautiful snowfall.
Since Blow Out is all about sound, it certainly uses the surround sound subtly. You’ll hear the stalker sounds in the rear, thunder, conversations he captures with his long range mic, the frog, the owl, hospital bustle. But, the dialogue is a bit low in surround mode so standard stereo might be best.
The bonus features on the Blu-ray disc include an hour-long De Palma interview by Noah Baumbach, Since they’re both filmmakers, they can get technical and artistic, along with sharing practical anecdotes. A recurring theme is De Palma using the camera intentionally, avoiding closeups and coverage.
Nancy Allen talks for 25 minutes circa 2011. She has some anecdotes but it’s more about her impressions of De Palma, Travolta and Dennis Franz. Photos of the marketing shoot are fun and her take on the ending is worthwhile.
Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown demonstrates his equipment, then discusses shooting the fake horror movie opening.
De Palma’s black and white student film Murder a La Mod looks great on Blu-ray HD.