Make way for tomorrow arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The accompanying PR material does not make clear what, if any, restoration work was done on the print – but considering the age of the film this really does look very impressive.
It should be remembered, of course, that a lot of the comments on this print should be taken in context of the age of the print. The most buffed up, highly restored 1937 print is never going to look absolutely pristine on Blu-ray, particularly when the film is not one that has had numerous home (or cinema) releases over the years. However, with this caveat in place I can see no other recourse than to give this transfer a high mark.
The first thing to note is the sharpness of the image. Now, this may not be razor sharp in the way that modern digital blockbusters are – but the general definition within the frame is excellent. Characters really do stand out from their surroundings, and the level of detail into the distance is impressive. I should also note there is a pleasing level of grain within the image – giving the movie a nicely filmic sheen that could easily have been eliminated by artificial means but thankfully has been left alone.
In terms of the print itself it is not pristine, as one would expect. There are clear defects within the image, but when you consider the age of the print these are to be expected and at no point do these ever spoil the viewer’s enjoyment.
The bottom line is that despite the age, this is a fantastic print that serves an excellent film well – and really draws the viewer in. Surprisingly highly detailed, and pleasingly organic – this is a picture that aficionados of the film are likely to revel in. Even the more casual viewer is likely to be impressed with what is on view here.
The soundtrack is presented in DTS HD MA mono and as such it is not easy to be expansive in my comments. However, what I can say is that it is pleasing that no attempt has been made to remaster the audio into any kind of stereo or even, God forbid, a surround mix. The bottom line is preserving the original is paramount and this has been done.
The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to hear, whatever volume the actors are speaking at. The dynamic range is nice and wide and the music is well balanced within the mix. I have never heard the film on any other format but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the sound on this disc. Perhaps most noticeable is that there is no audio degradation at all. For the age of the film, this is superb.
On first glance, the extras here are not extensive – but in fact when you get into them you discover the detail that is presented. They will illuminate your knowledge of the film and are consistently fascinating.
The first extra I viewed was an interview with film critic Gary Giddins. This is a riveting watch that provides much social and political background to the film. This taught me much about the history of the time, and the background to the film. This is an excellent documentary. Perhaps paling slightly beside this excellence, but only just is another interview this time with Peter Bogdanovich. He is a little more manic than Giddins, but provides more background on the director and his career. Together, these interviews dovetail well.
There is also a booklet included that features a new essay and an excerpt from the source novel, but sadly I cannot comment about this as it was not included with the review disc.
This is two films in a row that I have approached with trepidation and ended up being blown away by. Make Way For Tomorrow is an almost unbearably sad examination of love and separation – beautifully written, and fantastically acted.
I cannot pretend to be the most knowledgeable on this era of film, but it would appear that this movie has remained unseen for many years. If you care anything for film you will rectify this and add this disc to your collection. Orson Welles once famously said that the film would “make a stone cry” and he is not far wrong.
For a film that is over 70 years old, the picture and sound is very good and the extras package is informative and enjoyable. If black and white films are not your scene then I strongly suggest that you make an exception and give this one a try. In 1937 it was way ahead of its time, and it shows a bravery and truthfulness that is unusual. Give it a go, you are unlikely to regret it.
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