The piece below was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the art being covered in this piece wouldn't exist.
This week Synapse Films brings us the standard 4K UHD Release of Dario Argento’s Tenebrae (Tenebre), which debuted last year in the form of limited editions but now arrives in a wider release.
Synapse was also behind the film’s prior Blu-ray release in 2016, but this new edition employs a gorgeous new restoration that’s much improved over that earlier release.
The new 2-disc edition includes both a 4K UHD disc and standard 1080p Blu-ray, both featuring the restored film and its extras.
We’ve produced a gallery below of many screen captures from both discs for comparison.
Note the screenshots used in these comparison are captured from the 1080p Blu-ray disc included with this release, not the 4K disc. These comparisons are effective in highlighting the differences in the transfers, but aren’t reflective of the full 4K resolution or HDR of the 4K disc.
I like this shot of John Saxon because it clearly demonstrates a lot of the new restoration’s differences in a single comparison. You can see that he’s now slightly smaller on the image, which has been expanded to include a a bit more of the film frame without changing the shape of the aspect ratio. His skin and clothing look far more detailed, adding new realism. Even the “empty” sky offers insights: besides showcasing a much finer grain structure, its also slightly warmer, whereas the older transfer has a higher blue saturation throughout.
Our “slider” images allow for a direct comparison of the stills from both discs by color, cleanliness, and framing, but are downscaled and not representative of the full 1080p resolution. These are only illustrative of differences, and not definitive, especially in terms of resolution and clarity.
For a truer direct comparison, it’s recommended to download the images and view them at full size on a large monitor with 1080p or higher resolution. You can download all images at full resolution in a single zipfile below.
Color / Tone
A lot of work was done to capture improved color balance. Colors gravitate a bit warmer than before, with an overall richer and more natural appearance. A more refined spectrum of color is visible where previously details were lost in very dark or bright ranges.
In the image above, note how the skyline backdrop – previously completely washed out – is now clearly rendered.
Note the now visible highlights on the glove in the comparison above, previously lost in a sea of black.
The image above has a lot of negative space which is good for showing the change in grain structure, previously noisy and now much more refined.
Clarity and Detail
The 4K restoration’s improved clarity is evident throughout, and most easily seen in facial textures and especially clothing, giving a more tactile appearance to skin and fabrics.
As is common with new restorations of Italian films of this era, grain is greatly improved, and previously chunky or artificially noisy grain is now much more detailed and fine.
The new transfer managed to capture a slightly larger area of the frame, meaning there’s a bit more visible image cropped at the edges (which also has the effect of making the overall image appear slightly smaller). The aspect ratio of the frame has not been altered. The difference is slight, but I generally consider this a good thing.
Get it at Amazon: Tenebrae – Synapse Films 4K Blu-ray (2-Disc Edition)
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All 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray discs (not 4K disc) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to web display. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.