24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
ONE OF THE GREATEST FILM OF ALL TIME ON A GOOD DVD,
This review is from: North by Northwest (DVD)
No introduction required for this one: Alfred Hitchcock's is one of the most popular classic of all time, and it certainly deserves to be so. Watching NORTH BY NORTHWEST is a pure joy of cinema. It's thrilling, exciting and hilarious. You just get carried away with the master's perfect art of storytelling.
Many critics tried to "decode" the deeper meaning of this film in a vain effort to "intellectualize" Hitch's art. But the point is: there are really no serious message or psychological which understanding is vital to understand the film (which is quite the contrary from VERTIGO, his previous film, and PSYCHO, the one he made right after this one). The best way to understand this particular film is to just enjoy it. And boy, how enjoyable this movie is!
The new deluxe collector's edition DVD offers, first of all, a solid good transfer. I must congratulate MGM for keeping such a good care of the original elements. Unlike VERTIGO for which a lot of restoration works was required (and the end result still has some unrepairable deteriorations, even though it generally looks far better than how VERTIGO used to look for the last 17 years or so), NORTH BY NORTHWEST is preserved very well. This DVD represents the magnificence of the original VISTAVISON/IB-TECHNICOLOR images quite faithfully. The images are crisp-sharp (one great virtue of this now almost extinct process) and the colors are vibrant, deeply saturated and very rich. However, some of the rear-projection process shots (for examples, exteriors seen through a moving car window) look a bit faded and need a little work to be done. But don't worry, the final Mount Rushmore is transfered superbly, with all the miniature works, back-drop paintings, matpaintings and process shots are intact and are so effective. In fact, when properly done, the old techniques look as good as the recent digital CGI effects, maybe better.
I'm not quite sure about the Dolby 5-1 stereo because the film must have been made originally with a Mono soundtrack (or 3 channels Perspecta stereo), but at least it doesn't have the awful redone foley job which sounded quite ugly on the restored VERTIGO, so we can say it stays more faithful to what Hitch intended. Plus, I have to admit the new soundtrack REALLY brings out the magnificent orchestration of Bernard Herrmann's beautifully composed score!
Herrmann was one of the very few film composer who did his own orchestration. He was an uncompromised artist. By the way, you can enjoy the richness of the score with the music-only track as well.
An added enjoyment is the original theatrical trailer featuring Mr.Hitchcock himself, which was not on the previous LD release.
The DVD also features a good documentary about the making of the film which, unlike a conventional featurette where the filmmakers and the actors are just glorified in a phony promotional manner, really tells you about how a movie was made in those days. It even tells you how Cary Grant charged 15 cents to every autograph he gave to the fans! Unfortunately, Hitch himself is no longer with us to give a commentary for DVD fans, but the writer Ernest Lehman (also known for the screen adaptations of WEST SIDE STORY and THE SOUND OF MUSIC) tells about how he wrote this original screenplay and cleverly points out the subtle intelligence in Hitch's masterful direction. Critics and scholars (including myself, I must admit) often talk only about big scenes and flashy camera works which catch your eyes at the first moment you see them, but Lehman made me think how subtle a director's genius is, and that makes the whole difference from all the poorly made films that we see so often in the thriller genre today.