Richard Kelly’s divisive sophomore film gets deluxe treatment including a new 2K restoration — here’s how it stacks up
This article contains several comparisons which contrast Sony’s 2008 Blu-ray transfer with the new Arrow Video restoration. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.
Arrow Video has released a new edition of Southland Tales with a crisp 2K restoration. The film originally released on Blu-ray in 2008, in a fairly respectable edition from Sony with nice image quality and bonus features including a BTS doc and short film. Arrow’s new disc ports over the prior features and adds on several more, but the big win here is the inclusion of the original “Cannes Cut” of the film, generally considered superior to the cut that released commercially.
This article looks at the image quality of both the old and new releases. For comparative purposes, this article uses the theatrical cut from both editions.
Arrow’s edition is framed taller, and for the most part wider. For most of the film, you generally can see a bit more more image at the edge of the screen on all four sides. The aspect ratio is also slightly taller, meaning it fills up (a little bit) more of the TV screen.
Aside from the improved framing, the biggest difference in the editions is color, which is at most times slightly more muted compared to the very vivid presentation from 2008. Some exceptions to this also occur, notably the opening and title sequence.
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Additional Screen Captures
Comparing these editions, I don’t have a heavy favorite on the PQ front. Both versions actually look pretty great. I personally give Arrow the edge for filling out more of both the frame and my TV. Arrow’s image is also the more “filmlike”, which I gravitate toward, though I think a convincing argument could be made that the Sony’s more vivid approach matches the film’s ultramodern, stylized “Live in HD” aesthetic. Tying it all together, I wouldn’t purchase Arrow’s edition on the strength of the restoration alone, but it’s an excellent one — and all things considered, you’re really here for the Cannes Cut so a slightly better transfer is just the icing on the cake.
Special Features & Extras:
- New 2K restoration by Arrow Films, approved by director Richard Kelly and director of photography Steven Poster
- High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentations of both versions of the film: the 145-minute theatrical cut and the 160-minute “Cannes cut”, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006
- Original lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM 2.0 stereo soundtracks
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary on the theatrical cut by Richard Kelly
- It’s a Madcap World: The Making of an Unfinished Film, a new in-depth retrospective documentary on the film, featuring contributions by Richard Kelly and members of the original crew
- USIDent TV: Surveilling the Southland, an archival featurette on the making of the film, featuring interviews with the cast and crew
- This is the Way the World Ends, an archival animated short set in the Southland Tales universe
- Theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacey
- Limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Peter Tonguette and Simon Ward
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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.