Lost Highway 2-Disc Special Edition DVD Review
PictureAlthough I haven't seen any previous incarnations of Lost Highway on DVD, I've heard a of bad comments about the German disc that fans had previously sought out, and I think I'm on safe ground to report that this edition sure seems like a vast improvement. Coming in with a gorgeously framed anamorphic 2.35:1 ratio, the image offers plenty of detail, good colour fidelity and strong blacks. With its first forty or so minutes revolving around Bill Pullman mooching about in the shadows of his home (or, more aptly, his mind), the disc does a really good job of providing some quite impenetrable blacks. Though the restoration process occasionally lets itself down with some grubby looking shadows - and, unfortunately, this even affects the famed shot of Fred disappearing into the gloom of a darkened corridor in his house - there is still a predominantly solid weight to them that adds immeasurably to the cloying atmosphere.
There is some grain flitting about the picture but, barring a couple of brief shots where it noticeably flares up, the print appears quite clean and sharp. Without any other damage marring the image - unlike the nicks and scratches that apparently plagued the German and R4 editions - the viewing experience is further enhanced with some terrific detail, especially in the pore-revealing close-ups, despite the transfer being a touch on the soft side. The contrast is very good, enabling some marvellously bright and vivid sunny scenes, and a realistic quality to the exteriors. Arquette often looks radiant - and I'm not really enamoured with her, personally - with her lipstick, pale complexion and green eyes well picked out.
On the digital side of things, there is some very minor artifacting and some edge enhancement noticeable in some early scenes - Pullman's ears and hair in particular. But overall, this is a very pleasing picture that does Lynch's meticulous framing and profound imagery justice.
SoundLost Highway is presented with only two audio tracks - a very serviceable DD 5.1 and a tremendous DTS 5.1. Flick between the two at any time during the film and you'll immediately hear the benefits of the DTS, which is much, much louder and far more detailed. Lynch's sound designs are every bit as important as his visual storytelling and Lost Highway is truly bolstered by the mix that has been produced here.
Be warned about Fred's sax playing that suddenly screeches and toots out of the front right speaker ad then blasts from around the full set-up like a banshee. Dialogue is clear and warm whichever track you choose, but crystal clear high ends and a wonderful sharpness make the DTS unmistakeably the track of choice. The incredible soundtrack - pulsating rock and trademark industrial tones - is brilliantly presented, adding to the experience a roaring, ever-present power that provides a kick to the film. Some wildly shrill and sudden ringing phones reveal nice steerage across the front soundstage, though the rears aren't quite as active as you'd perhaps have liked. Still, this is a tremendous new mix that really adds a ferocious dynamism to Lost Highway. Well done.
ExtrasThis may be a 2-disc Special Edition but, remember this a David Lynch film - so don't expect too much. No commentary unfortunately, but the director has been well publicised in citing his aversion to explaining his movies and his methods so, if there had been one I doubt it would have revealed much, anyway. Hey, a really clever thing - a definitely Lynchian thing - would have been to record a chat track backwards! Now, there's a thought for the future.
But what we do get on Disc One besides the movie and its, admittedly, funky menu structure is a Who's Who. But don't get excited because this is just a list of character names that play a 2 or 3 second clip of the said character when clicked on. Hmm, staggering.
Disc Two contains the meat of the matter, although there really isn't much to be picked at on these bones, I'm sorry to say. Lynch 2005 is an interview with the director that has ten handy selections as well as a Play All option. Although a complete running was not available, each little segment lasts between 1 to 2 minutes. There is a curious multi-angle option for the interview, as well, enabling you to flick between two views of David Lynch, or have him talk over relevant clips from the movie. I preferred to watch Lynch. He's forgetful of many things - the exact genesis of certain characters - but clear about the influence that the O.J. Simpson trial had on the basis of his themes of guilt. How someone guilty of committing of murder can still “Go on living and doing ... and golfing(!)” I love Lynch - he's honest, strange and just eminently likeable, completely unlike the guy you think would make films like this. But he often comes across like a child struggling to explain the new picture he's just drawn to his bemused parents. He's certainly intelligent, but he clearly finds it hard to articulate many of his ideas verbally. The cinematic medium is, without doubt, his most successful means of communication - though here, of course, he is also at his most deliberately elusive. Obviously being asked pertinent questions, we only get to hear the sometimes rambling and stuttering replies that he gives. And this approach often prompts you to kind of put words into his mouth, to interject on his faltering behalf. One thing's for certain, listening to him won't shed any light on what his films, particularly this one, mean.
Lynch 1996 (4.52 mins) is a brief contemporary piece of the filmmaker, with wacky hair, telling us about casting Pullman and Arquette, the desert location work and Pullman's sax playing. But he does deliver one key thread into his own jumbled psyche about the seed of imagination that was planted in his mind when he heard that his friend's father was a painter for a living. A painter of pictures as opposed to a decorator, that is. This apparently opened up his mind to all sorts of possibilities. This is not very good, really.
Then we get a trio of interviews with Pullman (3.42 mins), Arquette (4.16 mins) and Loggia (2.46 mins). All are contemporary and none are very interesting, I'm afraid. Loggia, especially, seems to struggle with the film's plot and his place within it. “The fact that it's a mystery ... is ... good.” Not very impressive.
The Making Of (9.30 mins) is just a set of behind-the-scenes footage of scenes being rehearsed and some chatter in-between takes that we aren't invited to. Very reminiscent of a lot Korean DVD extras - useless.
Coming up next is a complete con of a featurette - entitled simply Featurette - running for seven minutes. This is merely the same interviews we've just seen, but with some music and scenes from the movie intercut with them. I'm sorry but that is just a cheap trick to pull on the punter. Pathetic.
And then we have the 36 second Teaser followed by the full Theatrical Trailer (1.50 mins).
It may be nice to meet David Lynch, but this set of extras do not make a Special Edition. A chronic waste of time and effort.
VerdictInteresting but flawed, Lost Highway is neither a masterpiece (as many claim) nor a failure (as many others claim). It's dark dementia works extremely well, and its mood is expertly chilling, yet the flip-side of its story, whilst lively and full of intrigue, lacks the visceral bite of its initial hook and eventual denouement. The performances are scintillating though, and Lynch's dangerous magic is still prevalent throughout.
The 2-Disc Special Edition is wholly underwhelming wit regards to extras, but the fantastic audio and reasonable video transfer should clinch it for fans. It is certainly worth making a pilgrimage down this Lost Horizon, though how often you will travel it depends upon how devout a believer in Lynch's captivating power you are.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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