The Age of Innocence Blu-ray Review
Scorsese does period love story
Martin Scorsese's dense but luxurious 1993 adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1920 novel The Age of Innocence is an epic period love story.The director's obsession with all things New York is never more evident than here, with his look at Gilded Age upper class society - the flipside to his almost contemporaneously set look at street life in Gangs of New York. It's a lavish, intricate and loving ode to the classic literary work, itself a fond reflection of this distinctive period in New York history, which came to an abrupt end after the first World War. The story is classic tragic love and, for most modern audiences, follows the kind of familiar pattern that every melodrama has adopted over the years, as a society man finds his life turned upside down when he falls in love with the cousin of his fiancee, ending up in an impossible maze of societal expectations and equally impossible desires.It's unusual territory for the master director, but he revels in the setting, establishing a sumptuous representation of high society which gives the familiar tale a grand air and pervasive resonance. Daniel Day-Lewis commits again to a distinctive part, although he is restrained by the constraints of his fairly lightweight protagonist, who buffets on the stormy seas of events that appear largely beyond his control, but which he also makes very little attempt to control, ably supported by Michelle Pfeiffer's love interest and even Winona Ryder's purposefully vacant wife. As tragic love stories go, it's a lovingly constructed epic; as fine a period feature as you would only expect from Scorsese despite the fact that it's far from his usual hunting ground.
Picture QualityMartin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence comes to UK Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion who deliver an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen.
Criterion have gone all-out as is only to be expected, producing a new 4K scan from the original 35mm negative which was reportedly approved by not only editor Thelma Schoonmaker but also by Scorsese himself, putting their stamp on the colour timing and giving their seal of approval that this is a faithful rendition of their lavish production. The end result is unsurprisingly excellent.
An unsurprisingly excellent transfer
Given the director and the period setting we're talking about, it's no surprise that the visuals are key, with the late 19th Century environments reproduced in staggering form, showing incredible attention to detail. Scorsese lives and breathes New York, and returned to the period in The Gangs of New York with the added benefit of better developed CG, but the period reproduction here is pretty damn impressive, focusing exclusively on high society (in comparison to Gangs' gang life) and bringing it to the screen in all its decadent glory. There are some fine flourishes, and a healthy level of stable, natural grain lending the image a strong texture, and the new scan is clean of all debris and damage.
The colour scheme has been lovingly reproduced here, benefiting from rich mahogany browns, and lavish decor, supported by strong black levels that give way to what is perhaps the presentation's only slight pitfall - a hint of crush. Other than that, this is largely reference territory.
Sound QualityA strong aural accompaniment
The Age of Innocence gets a strong aural accompaniment in the form of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, similarly remastered like the video, from the original 6-track mix. The end result is both refined in terms of period sensibilities and also fairly energetic given the director's style, utilising both classical and period music to afford the piece some dynamic life.
Dialogue remains finely observed across the frontal array, whilst effects, nominal though they often are, allow operas to come to life, give horse clops and bustling streets presence, and create a welcome and atmospheric backdrop for the proceedings. As stated, the score adopts plenty of suitably period (and classical) pieces of music to great effects, further bringing the surrounds into play. It's hardly a LFE-centric track, but it does have depth, range and resonance.
ExtrasCriterion once again deliver the goods for this new back-catalogue Scorsese release, affording it a quartet of new and hefty interviews, totaling almost an hour and a half with the crew members. This is headlined by a new interview with Scorsese himself, discussing his inspirations behind wanting to make this movie, and the source novel it's based upon, with further on this from the second interview with screenwriter Jay Cocks, a chat with Dante Ferretti, the production designer, and also with costume designer Gabriella Persucci.
Criterion once again deliver the goods on the extras front
The disc is rounded off by an archival documentary, Innocence and Experience, as well as a trailer, and the package itself comes with the usual illustrated booklet featuring an essay on the film.
Blu-ray VerdictA great Blu-ray package for fans of the film
Martin Scorsese's 1993 period epic, The Age of Innocence is an usual change of pace for the master director, benefiting from an opulent setting and strong lead performances, and telling a charming if unsurprisingly tragic love story.
Criterion's UK Blu-ray release affords the film newly remastered video and audio, both largely excellent, and a superb selection of newly commissioned interviews from some key crew members, including Scorsese himself. It's a great package for fans of the film to enjoy.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.99
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