This article contains several comparisons which contrast the older Paramount Blu-ray transfer with the new Arrow restoration. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.
Jane Fonda stars as the sexy spacefarer Barbarella in director Roger Vadim’s lushly-designed cosmic adventure based on the classic French comics. Barbarella originally hit Blu-ray in 2012, with subsequent re-releases and repackages. The Blu-ray is frankly an excellent one, and it probably presented a challenge for Arrow to try to top.
Arrow’s new 4K restoration is taken from the original negative, and is now available to own on 4K UHD and Blu-ray, so we took it for a test drive!
Please note that all images herein are 1080p Blu-ray screen captures (not 4K).
My observations of the new release:
- On a Blu-ray to Blu-ray level, a slight boost in clarity and fineness of grain (the 2012 print was already excellent). Better still on the 4K disc (not pictured).
- The colors are often more rich and vibrant, sometimes much more so.
- Some of the framing is a little different (not necessarily better or worse – just different).
The “slider” images below allow for a quick comparison of the stills from both discs by color, cleanliness, 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 image files 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 file zipfile below:
This film’s celebrated opening titles sequence offered some surprises. The framing on this frame is quite different, and the title text bits, which bounce about madly all over the screen, are noticeably crisper and whiter on the older transfer – perhaps artificially so as the result of some filter enhancements? While the white letters are softer in the new transfer, they also seem more fittingly filmlike and native to the image.
Arrow’s new edition is noticeably vivid, with a more prominent the color saturation. On other films this might invite scrutiny, but it seems fittingly perfect for Barbarella, a film which is intentionally guady and celebrated for its wildly out-of-this-world 60s-chic production design.
This is a gorgeously designed film with a lot of eye candy; here are some additional comparisons with no particular notes except to give a more rounded analysis. Blu-to-Blu, it’s hard to see a lot of difference – as I mentioned, the original Blu-ray was already pretty superb.
I don’t think I can recommend or justify the standard Blu-ray edition purely in terms of being a visual upgrade (though its ample extras package makes a more convicing argument). But the gorgeous 4K UHD disc is a jump worth making.