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A Colorful and Surreal Dream
on January 2, 2017
Dick Tracy plays out like a vibrant and surreal dream, the kind that you don't want to end. Released by Disney owned "Touchstone Pictures", the film feels akin to "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (also released by Touchstone) 2 years prior and perfectly captures the cartoon-like, pulp comic strip nature of the source material created by Chester Gould.
Among other things, Dick Tracy showcased the absolute mastery of a practical FX technique that is now all but forgotten, the traditional matte painting. The concept behind using matte paintings is that a group of artist would paint a background on a large piece of glass. The background would be something that could not be easily found or built, and would then be combined with the live action counterparts and shot. More than half of the scenes in this movie use a matte painting, some obvious, some less so, but all contribute to the creation of 'Tracytown'.
Another stand out in this film is of course the incredible use of make-up and prosthetics to alter the look of every actor who portrayed a villain in the film (of which there were many). This is something that may pass over you if you don't understand that these techniques were specifically used to faithfully recreate the way these characters looked in the original comic strip from the 1930's and 40's.
For someone like me who grew up loving and watching Dick Tracy on VHS, seeing it in all it's effervescent glory on blu-ray is a real treat.