Django is out today on Blu-ray and 4K UHD from Arrow Video. This article contains several comparisons which contrast Blue Underground’s 2010 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.
Spaghetti western favorite Django was originally set to arrive on a new Arrow Video Blu-ray way back in November 2018, but those plans were set aside due to a dispute with Blue Underground, who had previously released the film on Blu-ray in 2010.
The home video rights have presumably been cleared up, because Arrow is finally releasing their restored version of the beloved film, not only on standard Blu-ray but in a 4K UHD Edition as well.
I can recall being fairly impressed with the original Blu-ray version of Django when it released, a marked improvement over the DVD.
Viewing it side by side with Arrow’s new transfer, though, there’s really no comparison: the new version is a massive upgrade. Please note the screenshots in this article are from the Blu-ray version of Arrow’s release, not the 4K UHD disc. While the transfer is the same, the actual 4K images have a higher true fidelity and also feature HDR.
Anyway two big differences are immediately evident, both of which are predictably common in older Italian transfers: BU’s version has a lot of scan noise, and its colors are comparatively bright and washed out. Additionally, Arrow’s restoration has slightly larger and better framing.
Right off the bat, the title card suggests that these are sourced from different film elements. BU’s disc carries a copyright notice (possibly added by Blue Underground rather than part of the print itself) and the logo is a bit smaller.
The scan noise in the older transfer is very common to older scans of Italian movies. it’s noticeable throughout, but here are some shots where it’s particularly evident by way of comparison:
I’d always noticed the film’s ever-present mud and dirt had a weird pallor, sort of a chocolate-milk color to it. I thought this was just how the movie looked, but watching the new restoration, it’s clearly more natural in this respect. This correction completely changes the film’s presentation for me; so different was the prior look. This is a massive improvement.
Richer colors abound: blue skies, red accents, and natural skin tones.
A couple of intense close-ups demonstrate not only the difference in depth, but also the difference in brightness that gives Arrow’s restoration a much more naturalistic look.
All 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray disc (not 4K) 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.