Mulholland Drive Blu-ray Review
What's in the Blue Box?
With the shocking news that David Lynch has retired from filmmaking, and on the eve of his return to the Twin Peaks TV series, we celebrate the 15th Anniversary of one of his greatest films.Mulholland Drive is a beautiful, nightmarish vision, which will suck you in and keep you enthralled, then throw you round in a completely different direction two thirds of the way into the story. Suddenly, everything you have just seen becomes a confusing, jumbled mess and – just like the characters themselves – you have to either try to piece things together or just give up at some point, and accept the fact that this is still a masterful piece of art, even if you don’t have a clue what is going on in the story. Either way, it is amazing, mesmerising, classic Lynch. Shot as a TV pilot for a cancelled series, and then revisited with new scenes filmed to transform it into a film, the production of Mulholland Drive is almost as convoluted as the film itself, although that arguably gives it an authentically labyrinthine edge. Although his series may well never have gone down the route of the final act of the movie's narrative, Lynch handled the changes so adeptly, so professionally, that the end result soars above the cliché, transforming into an intellectual mystery; an elaborate conundrum demanding of repeated watches.And beneath all the smoke and fury: beneath the non-linear staging, and blending of illusions and reality, Lynch’s tale is rich and multi-layered. His look at the seedy underbelly of Hollywood may smack of personal bitterness but it nevertheless rings true of what many know of the infernal Hollywood machine. He shows what happens to fresh young stars when they are put through the grinder, suffering rejection upon rejection, only to lose roles to other, lesser individuals, for reasons founded in nepotism and prejudice. He shows the fresh turning into the rotten, the dream illusion shattered by the nightmarish reality. And even beyond that there's a tragic love story; an insightful look at unrequited love and cold-hearted betrayal. Told in classic Lynchian fashion - positing the viewer as the veritable 'detective' uncovering this mystery - the end result is a dark and enchanting tale; beautifully acted, elaborately constructed and played out to confuse and befuddle audience members, leaving them aware that, irrespective of interpretation, they have just seen a work of art.
Picture QualityMulholland Drive returns to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of StudioCanal who celebrate the 15th (technically 16th) Anniversary of the film in style, delivering a tremendous 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen and championed as coming from a new 4K restoration.
The sales pitch is that this is a 'brand new director-approved restoration' of the 4K digital transfer, although it would be understandable to have some skepticism over whether or not this is just Criterion's 2015 4K restoration repurposed here, and perhaps given a new encode.
The 4K restoration is the definitive version of this gem
At the end of the day, either way, it's far from bad news - in fact the film, which already looked pretty good on Blu-ray, arguably has a whole new lease of life, rendered with near perfection here. One significant difference appears to surround the softer TV-origin shots, which still feel a little lighter but are nevertheless richer and more detailed, however many will truly celebrate the more vibrant colour scheme, that reinvigorates the whole Mulholland world with vivid tones, deeper primaries and strong blacks leaving the shadier elements bustling with shadow detail.
As stated I never had particular problems with StudioCanal's original release, and certainly consider the Criterion update to be a largely flawless affair, so to have this 'new 4K remaster' - whether or not it is indeed identical to the Criterion affair - is mostly just a positive for UK Region-locked fans, who can finally get a definitive version of this gem.
Sound QualityThis new release sports what sounds like the same DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which adorned the 2010 release, although thankfully that already did a pretty superb job with the material.
It's a powerful track, definitely designed to attack the lower end of your aural spectrum. Sure, the dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, and is neatly sandwiched across the frontal array, and yes we do get a few noticeable effects – but again you have to keep in mind the source of much of the material here – like traffic noises, coffee percolating and even the odd gunshot; but the score is what you really come here for.
An unnerving and superb score designed to take root within the bowels of your sound system
It may not be a noisy, intrusive, in-your-face affair, but it is ridiculously potent nonetheless, growling away in the background and bristling to the fore when you least expect it, rumbling around beneath you as if the whole screen is going to explode from the tension that it is creating. Apparently Lynch even requested that cinemas turn the volume up by a few dB when playing this movie – so he was obviously intent on driving you near insane with his oppressive mix. Frankly, aside from the standard synth riffs that long-time composer-collaborator Angelo Badalamenti has favoured for much of Lynch’s oeuvre, this is a truly seminal piece of work, unlike any conventional score and almost designed to take root within the bowels of your sound system – i.e. that LFE channel that here gets constant use. Unnerving, and superb.
ExtrasStudiocanal's re-release sports most, if not all, of the previous extras - even including an exclusive from the Criterion release - as well as a couple of new additions.
We get the same 10 minute French Introduction (with subtitles), with Thierry Jousse, the same half-hour retrospective Featurette, In the Blue Box, the original 24-minute On the Road to Mulholland Drive Featurette, and the compelling 24-minute Back to Mulholland Drive Featurette from the last Studiocanal release, again in French, which attempts to interpret the narrative.
The most complete and comprehensive selection of extras available for this film
We also get the Criterion Interview with David Lynch and Naomi Watts, as well as a number of 'EPK' Interviews from the Criterion release, with Lynch, Watts, Justin Theroux and Laura Elena Harring, and a single Deleted Scene from the Criterion release. There's also an Interview with Composer Angelo Badalamenti, which was on the previous Studiocanal release.
The new material comes in the form of an Interview with Laura Elena Harring, as well as an Interview with Mary Sweeney (although I cannot help but think that the latter is the same as was on the previous release, despite the listings). Either way this certainly looks to be the most complete and comprehensive selection of extras available for this film.
Blu-ray VerdictA work of art, irrespective of interpretation
StudioCanal do a tremendous job, albeit a year late, for the film's 15th Anniversary, delivering near-perfect video and audio, and the most comprehensive selection of extra features currently available, blending what was previously available on a number of different prior releases. Yes, Criterion may have delivered near-identical video a year ago, but this is still, on balance, a superior package, and thus the definitive release of Mulholland Drive.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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