Presented in it's original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio using the MPEG-4/AVC codec the film and audio may leave you wondering a little but the video is a sterling transfer of what must have been very limited budget film stock at the time.
Shot in black and white, contrast is the name of the game and it's well used in this feature. There are good black levels, not quite as inky as some releases but more than sufficient to highlight some dark corners in the hotel which The Man stays in for a short time, the crags of hillsides where one band of despots reside and the hospital corridors which The Man is taken down, blindfolded, by The Doctor.
Whites run a little hot and occasionally bloom into their surrounding elements, but I am wondering if this was in fact a style chosen by Besson and his cinematographer Carlo Varini; It wouldn't be the first time a post apocalyptic society has been a bright affair. The transfer is excellent with no blocking or smearing. There appears to be some minor enhancement over starkly contrasted backgrounds. The print is also in great shape; taking into account its age and the film stock used at the time, there is no dirt or speckles to be seen. There is a subtle level of grain apparent throughout and this is to be expected and in some ways adds to the nature of the film rather than distracting us from it.
There's not a lot to say on this really as there is no dialogue and a limited, sparse backing score to actually fill any of your speakers. The LPCM French (for that one word spoken) audio track is presented in the original stereo.
It's only the score and some discrete effects up front that you are able to listen to; men scrambling down the sides of rocky hillsides, good panning when The Man flies his small craft to pastures new. Jean Reno's attempts at breaking into the hospital and the battles which ensue afterwards. All the detail is crisp with the middle to high tones taking centre stage. There are few low end effects to speak of.
A difficult one to score, as mentioned there's not a lot there to begin with. What we do have though comes across well and never seems diluted. A product of a director experimenting with his art and nothing more.
I'm still trying to fathom what this was all about, a sci-fi post apocalyptic vision of a European Mad Max, or just some whimsy that Besson was playing with at the time? I'm tending to lean towards the latter only because it doesn't really work as the former; there's just far too many loose ends and unstructured plot lines to make it stand out as an individual piece demanding of your attention. Fans of the film love it, personally I just can't see it.
Yes it's good to see Jean Reno start his association with Besson and his performance and character in this film are probably the best thing about it. It's also fantastic to see it released on this new medium so that completists, like myself, can add this to their Besson collection.
On the whole though it's not a great piece of work, the video is more than acceptable for what must have been a very low budget affair, the audio, what it is, is fine and I would say give it a watch from an intriguing point of view. I do intend to look into it further, re-watch it and try to gain more from it, just now though it has me a little confused.
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