For The Talented Mr. Ripley Anthony Minghella again used John Seale, who was his cinematographer on The English Patient, and as with that film they decided to shoot in a ratio of 1.85:1, using 35mm film and spherical lenses. As with their Blu-ray for The English Patient, Miramax has again created a very nice looking transfer using a clean print with no obvious dirt or scratches and excellent blacks and shadow detail. The transfer is an AVC encode and is free of banding and other compression artefacts or unwanted edge enhancement and ringing. The entire transfer is very faithful to the colour scheme of the original film, with very bright and colourful scenes during the first half of the film which centers around fun in the sun and neon drenched jazz clubs. The second half of the film has a more subdued colour palette as the the plot becomes darker and Ripley’s lies spiral out of control. It should be noted that there is a degree of film grain - especially during night scenes - but this reflects the original shooting conditions that primarily used real locations. The presence of grain is a relief as it means that Miramax have resisted the temptation to over do the digital noise reduction and thus the disc retains a good level of detail within the high resolution image. Overall The Talented Mr. Ripley is a good looking Blu-ray with a nice film-like quality that should please fans of the film.
As he did with the cinematography, so Anthony Minghella turned to a trusted collaborator for the sound design, once again using the remarkable Walter Murch. Whilst the overall sound design of The Talented Mr. Ripley isn’t quite as active in the surrounds as The English Patient, this is a deliberate choice on the part of Minghella and Murch. Music plays an important role in the film and is as much a character as Ripley or Dickie. As such the sound design makes extensive use of the front channels with a lot of source music and live performances combined with the more traditional score. The soundtrack seamlessly mixes the more classical nature of Ripley’s character with the jazzy inflections of Dickie’s personality. Gabriel Yared does an excellent job of writing a score that manages to combine all of the elements into a coherent soundtrack. Despite the sound being quite front heavy, Murch still uses the surrounds to create atmosphere, especially during the club scenes. Murch also uses music and sound effects to transition from one scene to the next, for example in one scene Dickie making the sound of cymbals on a train which leads into a club scene with the actual sound of cymbals. Overall the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack wonderfully replicates the original 5.1 mix of The Talented Mr. Ripley and as with the picture it faithfully reproduces the cinematic experience.
The extras on the Blu-ray of The Talented Mr. Ripley have been ported over from the previous DVD and as such they are all in standard definition. As with The English Patient there are no new extras or any high definition content aside from the feature itself but given Anthony Minghella's passing this shouldn't come as a surprise. Luckily the original extras, which were produced around the time of the film's theatrical release are reasonably comprehensive.
- Audio Commentary with Director Anthony Minghella - Once again we are treated to an excellent solo commentary from Anthony Minghella and once again it proves to be the highlight of the extras. As Minghella proved on his commentary tack for The English Patient, he is an informed and thoughtful speaker who avoids all the usual commentary pitfalls. His commentary lasts as long as the film and he has clearly prepared his thoughts prior to recording it so there are no long periods of silence and he doesn't end up just repeating what's happening on screen. He discusses the writing of the screenplay and his thoughts on both Patricia Highsmith's books and his take on the character of Tom Ripley. He also talks about the casting process, why he chose the actors he did and the unique elements that they all brought to their roles. He discusses the influences on the film, especially relating to jazz and the Italian cinema of the late fifties and he talks at length about the decisions they made with regards to production design, cinematography, music and sound. He also includes plenty of production stories and amusing anecdotes, as well as interesting points of trivia. Overall it is a wonderfully entertaining and intelligent commentary that once again reminds you of what a great loss Minghells'a untimely death was.
- Cast and Crew Interviews (SD, 14:04) - These interviews were obviously recorded at the time of the film's theatrical release and as such are little more than promotinal pieces where all the principal members of the cast discuss their roles and talk about how good everyone is. There are interviews with Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Anthny Minghella and there is a lot of discussion about characterisation especially with regards to Ripley and Dickie. The interviews are reasonably interesting but obviously lack the benefit of hindsight that an interview made years later can often have. There is also some overlap between the these interviews and the production and soundtracks featurettes.
- Inside The Talented Mr. Ripley (SD, 21:36) - This is really a standard electronic press kit (EPK) that was made at the time of the film's production. These EPKs are designed to be shown on TV channels as part of the film's initial promotion and then often find their way on to the home video release. As is often the case they give an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of the production but their promotional nature tends to make them quite light weight. Needless to say there are plenty of shots of the attractive cast filming in attractive Italian locations and as with the other two featurettes there is a degree of overlap.
- Making of the Soundtrack (SD, 8:00) - This featurette is one of the more interesting extras on the disc and includes interviews with Anthony Minghella, composer Gabriel Yared and sound designer Walter Murch. In the interviews they discuss their desire to incorporate existing jazz recordings with new recordings made especially for the film as well as the famous jazz musicians they assembled to work on the soundtrack. Yared talks about how he wrote the score to incorporate all these elements and Murch discusses the way they edited all these elements together in the finished film. There are also brief interviews with Matt Damon and Jude Law who discuss learning to play ther respective instrments well enough to convincingly mime during filming.
- Teaser Trailer (SD, 1:56) - This is the film's original teaser and a such does a good job of generating a sense of mystery without giving away the film's plot.
- Full Length Trailer (SD, 2:20) - As with the teaser the full length trailer does a god job of focusing on the mystery elements of the plot without giving anything away, as well as highlighting the excellent cast. It is nice to be reminded of a time when trailers intrigued you and enticed you in, rather than just showing you the entire plot of the film condensed into five minutes!
With The Talented Mr. Ripley Miramax has produced a Blu-ray that should please both fans of the film and anyone who is new to it. The film itself just oozes class and taste and the Blu-ray does a wonderful job of capturing that with a picture that has a nice film-like quality to it and a soundtrack that reproduces the musical and jazzy score perfectly. Whilst there are no new features the existing ones cover the making of the film reasonably well and Anthony Minghella’s commentary track is as excellent as always. Ultimately regardless of whether you are an existing fan of the film or a complete newcomer, you won't regret allowing yourself to be seduced by The Talented Mr. Ripley.
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