On November 4, 2006, I posted a review noting the side-by-side differences between the "60th Anniversary Edition of It's A Wonderful Life
" - vs. all other editions of this film released on home video during the past 25 years. I still stand by that review.
The "Two-Disc Collector's Set" is a different product. While it contains the same 60th Anniversary DVD in pristine black-and-white - is ALSO includes a second DVD - a colorized version of "It's A Wonderful Life" that boasts the best color hues I've seen to date!
If you're like me -- and you prefer black-and-white films to stay black-and-white - fine. But I bought this 2-disc set because I was curious about how FAR digital image technology has come - since the controversial practice of colorizing black-and-white films began more than two decades ago. In short, the colorization here is spectacular.
DISC ONE -- There are NO differences between the first disc in this "Two-Disc Collector's Set" and the superbly restored black-and-white DVD released in 2006
. Disc One is EXACTLY THE SAME as the 60th Anniversary Edition of "It's A Wonderful Life
." It has the SAME special features, documentaries, trailers and improved subtitles. The three-to-four VERY MINOR digital sound pops that tekkies brought up in 2006
are still present - but as I wrote then - they WON'T be a big deal for most families watching a film like this made more than 60 years ago.
DISC TWO -- This disc has the same pristine movie in "COLOR." The results are stunning. Disc Two offers optional subtitles and NO extras - and NO digital sound pops!
In my 2006 review of the 60th Anniversary Edition
, I noted why I kept a "colorized" version of "It's A Wonderful Life" on video tape (Republic Pictures Home Video, 1989). Most youngsters prefer color. As they get older, they come around to appreciating the artistry of black-and-white. But early on, they still find it "boring."
I recommend fans AND critics of colorization to at least "preview" how much has changed since those chalky crayon efforts of the 1980s. A high-tech company founded in 2001 called Legend Films, which specializes in restoring, colorizing and adding digital special effects - to NEW and OLD films - was commissioned to colorize "It's A Wonderful Life" for this "Two-Disc Collector's Set."
While the results don't match the color of today's live action films, they're still remarkable. Given the titanic advances in digital special effects since 1989, I shouldn't have been surprised. It isn't Technicolor, but the skin tones and background colors are more lifelike, enabling "It's A Wonderful Life" to JUMP off the screen like never before. It looks brighter, cleaner and more beautiful. You can almost smell Donna Reed's hair and see the panic in her brown eyes when James Stewart hovers over her when they're on the phone in the scene just before they get married.
Think of well-preserved color movies made during the 1940s or 1950s that weren't in Technicolor, but shot on different color film stock that's still beautiful today. That's what the new colorized version of "It's A Wonderful Life" looks like. It's "vintage" color, not "contemporary" color. And unless you're a technician who understands things like fading or shifting colors, you might not be able to tell the difference between what's original or colorized. Why? Because most of us are conditioned to expect LESS technical sophistication from films made in 1946 vs. 2006.
Yes, colorization does alter an artist's "original vision." But the technology behind it has improved tremendously in 20 years. What this means to the future of colorizing black-and-white films, including "untouchable" classics - is a subject for another day.
The solution for tekkies? Buy this "Two-Disc Collector's Set," put colorized Disc Two into your player and simply turn down the color on your TV! You'll now have the cleanest SOUND and PICTURE of "It's A Wonderful Life" ever - better than it was for audiences in 1946! Moreover, it'll be easier to get your kids to watch the colorized version - before "they graduate" to the black-and-white original. I hope this helps.