By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
A Star is Born
Whether you go with the Blu Ray to put on your shelf or just an HD download, A Star is Born gets the Warner Bros. high definition treatment like all their classics. If you liked The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind in HD, you’ll be happy with this musical classic.
A Star is Born on Blu-Ray
To begin with, it’s a little extra wide. Widescreen was wider back then so the bars on the letterbox reflect that. You also get an immediate demo when the opening shots go from stock footage to original, clear, crisp scenes of Hollywood at night with bright red banners.
You see a bit of grain but it’s tight grain. It still looks like real people inside your TV, with those ‘50s Hollywood colors and skin tones. Sometimes the focus softens. Maybe that’s the restoration, maybe that’s just focus issues with actual anamorphic filming. Certainly the pivotal Oscar speech scene stands out with the whole upper quarter of the screen out of focus, but either way those are authentic flaws.
The musical numbers feature full master shots of stage performances. You can see all the detail in one shot, from the choreographed dancers to scuff marks on the floor. Shadow silhouettes are distinct black figures, and you see the gritty brick detail backstage. Deep sets like the stage and clubs let you feel all the layers of depth. When they’re on a projected background, you can tell because the foreground is so much sharper. That’s ‘50s studio filmmaking.
The ocean film within the film makes the water actually look blue. I know ocean water. It only looks blue on Blu Ray. Certainly seeing the old studio lots and hand crafted sets are great HD sights.
The only part I thought was odd was the still footage in the restoration. The stills themselves look good but it’s a weird style for restoration. I don’t think it’s worth it. I’d leave them out because it breaks the flow of the film to suddenly see a photo montage with dialogue. I don’t think any of those scenes added to the film. They should at least have an option to view the film either way.