The anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer included on the disc may not be up to the standards of the latest blockbuster releases, but it's far better than previous video and television prints.
While thoroughly remastered (check out the trailer on the disc to see how bad things could have been), the image is a little soft in places, and fine grain in evident in the backgrounds and darker scenes. Still, this all adds to the authentic feel of the material, and is hardly the biggest offence we've ever come across.
Although it doesn't really need it, Paramount has seen fit to remaster Chinatown's soundtrack for the DVD release, and as such you're presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the disc. As you'd expect, there isn't really much use made of the surrounds apart from music presentation or pieces of ambient traffic noise. But who really cares when Towne's wonderful dialogue is presented with such range and clarity? Everything you could really hope for.
Expecting nothing at all (well, it is a back catalogue release from Paramount), how surprised we were to discover a couple of very interesting little gems on this disc.
First of all there's the original theatrical trailer (which could actually do with a spot of restoration work), and then there's the a 131/2min collection of retrospective interviews with Polanski, producer Robert Evans, and writer Robert Towne, which explore the genesis of the film in considerable depth. In the absence of a commentary track from Polanski himself, this is about as good as we could have hoped for.
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