The Exorcist (Extended Director's Cut)
Thinking it over, a fair assessment of the merits for this specific cut of the movie is somewhere in the upper half of Tier Three. The transfer is really a mixed bag from Warner, though in the end does not heavily affect the outcome. Is this the best one of the great pieces of cinema history will ever look? That is a highly doubtable proposition. A better transfer could be created and probably will, whenever WB feels the need to sell another format to us. Regular viewers will surely be pleased with how the film looks, but videophiles will definitely find fault in some of the digital processing used.
The digibook edition includes a letter from director William Friedkin, which claims this is the best print ever available for The Exorcist
. That statement is probably true, given the advances in modern scanning tools. Friedkin further elaborates that both himself and cinematographer Owen Roizman supervised the color-timing of this new transfer. On that point, they succeeded in using a delicate touch to not alter anything too drastically, just enhancing what was always there in the film. Most will be pleased with that aspect of the picture, as the film does show significant improvement in that regard. Contrast is not overdone and flesh-tones remain healthy, without an excess warmth to the reds so common with modern color-timing.
My complaints mostly reside in the area of oversharpening. The Exorcist
has never been a razor-sharp film experience, as a slight softness was part of the original cinematography. Given the sometimes thick patina of grain on the original camera negative, it appears some level of digital noise reduction was employed throughout to lower it. In all fairness, the filtering is mostly applied in a judicious manner at a uniformly low level. Only one or two scenes have occurrences of problems like frozen grain, or ripples of “swimming” grain. On the other hand, textures look a little too clean and smooth. Close-ups early in the film suffer the most from the effect, showing a loss of high-frequency information to a degree. Watch the skin on Father Merrin's face in the desert for one example. On the whole though, I could live with the amount of digital noise reduction used on this transfer. The resolution is still quite good, likely owing to the 4K scan of the master.
Unfortunately, the technicians working on the transfer used a common technique on it after the degraining. To sharpen it for Blu-ray, a pervasive sharpening filter of some type was applied throughout the movie. The ringing is noticeable in spots, but that is not the main problem with it. The remaining grain in the image takes on a slightly noisy appearance at times after being sharpened. Many will just chalk it up to the age of the film and its inherent grain, but certain scenes show visual indicators of the problem.
Compression issues are really confined to the scene involving the actual exorcism. The VC-1 encode holds up quite well until that moment, when it starts to slightly break down at the combination of fast action, dark interior lighting and murkiness. After seeing the Blu-ray, the compression encoder did a better job with the film than I expected before viewing.The Exorcist
was never intended to be eye candy. The Blu-ray looks okay, but a nagging thought reminds me that a better edition in terms of absolute picture fidelity and quality is very possible. As is, the picture quality turned out acceptable to me, a huge fan of the film since I first watched it many years ago.
BDInfo scan of director's cut (courtesy of RDarrylR):http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...4#post19292414