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Criterion Edition v. Miramax Edition
on January 29, 2012
Kieslowki is my favorite director of all time, so I am very picky about how his work is represented. One thing that I love about Criterion is that they exercise extreme discretion with their restorative process, and so I was confident that certain intentional qualities of the original films would persist in these new versions and I was not disappointed to that end. Each film came through with a relative graininess still intact (good), and wherever Criterion did have to make an exception I felt very comfortable with their choices. Except, as it turned out, when it came to the colors & lighting, two aspects I think anyone could agree are enormously important to these three films. The Miramax set has been criticized here in other reviews as being too dark and over-saturated, but I don't entirely agree. The difference is most obvious in Blue, where cinematographer S'awomir Idziak's trademark use of filters and unconventional lighting has been significantly adjusted, sometimes to the point of almost total removal, in the Criterion set. Anyone who has seen Decalogue V or Double Life of Veronique can readily identify that cinematographer's unique style, and comparing the Criterion and Miramax adaptations, I feel strongly that the few scenes with clearly heavy filter use are better represented in the Miramax version than the Criterion one; ideally a balance between the two end results, weighted slightly to the Miramax side, would have yielded the best results. The Criterion set is still fantastic, and there are many things they did right, but the color and lighting just seemed a lot less impressive in this incarnation of the trilogy which, justifiably, better accents the director's exquisite skill than that of each film's dedicated cinematographer. That said, I'll be keeping my Miramax set alongside the new Criterion version as even after a remarkable transfer the lesser set is still a valuable asset to anyone's collection.