This article contains several comparisons which contrast Mill Creek Entertainment’s 2012 Blu-ray transfer with the new Arrow version. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.
Arrow Video recently released Keoma on Blu-ray with a new restoration and special features. Directed by the great Enzo G. Castellari and starring Franco Nero (Django) and western legend Woody Strode, the 1976 film is a late-entry, old-fashioned spaghetti western treasure, trailing the heights of the genre’s popularity by a decade but staking a bold claim with legendary talent and a stylish and evocative approach culminating in a Christ allegory.
Keoma was previously released on Blu-ray in a double feature edition from Mill Creek Entertainment, sharing a single disc with The Grand Duel, plus trailers for both films. (Before being too critical of Mill Creek’s disc, fans should bear in mind that it was a budget release using available materials, and an excellent value, considering).
Like many aging Italian films, that older scan was a noisy, smeary affair with artificial smoothness and yellow bias. Arrow’s new edition is a definite and all-around improvement in every way, not only fixing those issues with color correction and a much cleaner 2K scan, but also fixing the print’s sometimes faded, desatured appearance and even opening up the image to fit a bit more of the frame on all sides.
Close-ups help accentuate these differences — note in particular the difference in clarity in the textures of skin and fabric and Woody Strode’s skin tone.
Like any great western, Keoma is full of vistas and landscapes, and it’s here that the old scan’s faded, desaturated colors are perhaps most evident. The restoration fixes those old gray scenes with clearer images of lush greens and blue skies.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
More than just a new restoration, Arrow’s new edition boasts numerous features:
• New 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
• Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio
• Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits
• English subtitles for both soundtracks (with a new translation for the Italian track)
• New audio commentary by spaghetti western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry C. Parke
• The Ballad of Keoma, a new interview with the legendary star Franco Nero
• Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, a new interview with director Enzo G. Castellari
• Writing Keoma, a new interview with actor and writer Luigi Montefiori AKA George Eastman
• Parallel Actions, a new interview with editor Gianfranco Amicucci
• The Flying Thug, a new interview with actor Massimo Vanni
• Play as an Actor, a new interview with actor Volfango Soldati
• Keoma and the Twilight of the Spaghetti Western, a newly filmed video appreciation by the academic Austin Fisher
• An Introduction to Keoma by Alex Cox, an archival featurette with the acclaimed director
• Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
• Gallery of original promotional images from the Mike Siegel Archive
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips // booklet with new writing by Simon Abrams and Howard Hughes
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.