Criterion's Sisters on Blu-ray: a 4K-restored must-own with a caveat on De Palma's rough gem.
Disc Release Date:
Brian De Palma's Sisters on Blu-ray features a flawless 4K restoration from the 35mm original, with improved visuals, colors, and sound, removing age imperfections.
The Blu-ray's English LPCM 1.0 audio is the best to date, with clear dialogue and impactful sound effects, though the Bernard Herrmann score occasionally lacks oomph.
Criterion's 'Sisters' extras blend new/old insights on the film's making, De Palma's humor, cast anecdotes, and vintage media, underscoring its cinematic significance.
Brian De Palma's 'Sisters' (1973) hits Blu-ray with features and interviews, showcasing its Hitchcockian vibe and impactful storytelling in a Criterion release.
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and encoded with MPEG-4 AVC for a 1080p transfer, Brian De Palma's "Sisters" makes a compelling entrance onto Blu-ray through the Criterion Collection. This release distinguishes itself with a spectacular new 4K remaster, derived from the 35mm original camera negative, and notably approved by Brian De Palma himself. This newly minted version excels in delivering an authentic and organic viewing experience, vastly superior to previous iterations. Detailed attention has been paid to remove thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and scratches, employing advanced restoration techniques alongside manual corrections for a pristine visual output. The color grading, executed with precision, enhances the nuance in the film's visuals, boasting fresher primaries and more nuanced highlights without resorting to artificial sharpening or distracting digital corrections.
The meticulous remastering effort extends to addressing the original's audio imperfections, remastering from the 35mm magnetic track to eliminate audible anomalies. Visually, the remaster showcases exceptional clarity, depth, and stability across varying scenes. Enhanced shadow definition and balanced highlights significantly improve darker sequences, while the refined grain exposure maintains the film’s intrinsic cinematic texture. The transfer is especially commendable for its treatment of specialized sequences—such as those shot on 16mm and the stylized black and white hospital scene—where previous versions faltered. These scenes now exhibit crisp details, balanced whites, and deep blacks, contributing to a markedly enhanced viewing experience.
This Criterion release represents a significant leap forward in preserving "Sisters" for contemporary audiences, offering an almost flawless restoration that revitalizes the film’s visual and auditory elements. Though housed in a Region-A locked Blu-ray, necessitating appropriate playback equipment, the quality of this remaster makes it a must-have for fans and collectors alike. The new 4K restoration not only breathes new life into De Palma's thriller but also sets a high standard for future archival efforts, showcasing what can be achieved with meticulous care and technological diligence.
The audio presentation of the "Sisters" Blu-ray provides a singular English LPCM 1.0 track, supplemented with optional English SDH subtitles for accessibility. This track, upon review and comparison with its European lossless counterpart, reveals a marginally thicker and better-rounded sound quality on various audio systems, although the dynamic range and nuanced distinctions remain consistent throughout. Evaluations of sequences where the score plays a pivotal role displayed no discernible differences in sound quality, ensuring that dialogue remains clear and intelligible, an essential aspect for delivering the narrative effectively.
Despite the singular audio offering, the clarity and impact of the dialogue and sound effects are particularly noteworthy, achieving a high level of audio definition not previously experienced in older formats, including an old 35mm print and DVD versions. The meticulously clear dialogue and sound effects, especially during crucial moments such as the tense opening murder sequence, are commendable. However, some aspects of Bernard Herrmann's score occasionally come across as somewhat flat. While key scenes benefit from the robustness of this track, there remains a slight yearning for enhanced depth and vibrancy in sequences heavily reliant on music to augment suspense and atmosphere.
Overall, this audio mix offers a commendable auditory experience for "Sisters," arguably the finest since its original theatrical release. Although most aspects of the mix are well-executed, with clear voices and impactful sound effects, enthusiasts of Bernard Herrmann's work might find the score's representation lacking in certain areas. This minor critique does little to diminish the overall quality of the audio track, which is otherwise a solid effort in presenting this film with the clarity and detail it deserves.
The Blu-ray presentation of "Sisters" extras delivers an enlightening blend of archival and new material, offering fans and film scholars alike a deep dive into the movie's production, reception, and legacy. Highpoints include Jennifer Salt's reflective and insightful new interview, which adds a personal touch, and "The Autopsy," a comprehensive look at the film through interviews with key personnel like Brian De Palma and Charles Durning that enriches understanding of its creation. The Brian De Palma Q&A at the AFI from 1973 stands out for its historical significance, providing direct commentary from the director himself. Additionally, the inclusion of period-specific extras like the Margot Kidder appearance on the Dick Cavett Show and vintage radio spots captures the original atmosphere surrounding the film's release. The international poster gallery, while brief, visually encapsulates the film's global reach and impact, making this collection invaluable for enthusiasts who seek to fully appreciate "Sisters" in its cultural and cinematic context.
Extras included in this disc:
- New Jennifer Salt Interview: Reflects on her experience working on "Sisters" and her friendship with Margot Kidder.
- The Autopsy: Archival interviews discussing the film's production.
- Brian De Palma at the AFI, 1973: A historical Q&A session with the director.
- Margot Kidder at the Dick Cavett Show, 1970: A comedic television interview with one of the film’s stars.
- International Poster Gallery: A visual collection of promotional materials with music.
- Radio Spots: Vintage U.S. radio advertisements for "Sisters".
- Booklet: Features essays and interviews providing critical insights into the film.
Brian De Palma's "Sisters" (1973) has found a new home on Blu-ray through Criterion, boasting a variety of special features that enhance the viewing experience. This psychological thriller, starring Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt, weaves a complex narrative around themes of voyeurism, identity, and suspense, heavily invoking the legacy of Alfred Hitchcock. The film's effective use of Hitchcockian techniques, from its intricate plot twists to its meticulous camera movements, pays homage to the master of suspense while establishing its distinct flavor. Bernard Herrmann's intense score further amplifies the tension, imbuing scenes with an eerie ambiance that lingers.
The film narratively pivots around a journalist, Grace Collier (played by Jennifer Salt), who becomes embroiled in a gruesome murder mystery. The performances are a highlight, with Kidder and Salt delivering compelling portrayals that anchor the film's emotional and psychological depth. Charles Durning adds a touch of earnestness mixed with comic relief, though his performance may fall short for some viewers. Despite these strengths, critics and fans alike may find "Sisters" to be rough around the edges compared to De Palma's later works like "Dressed to Kill" and "Blow Out". However, its unique blend of humor and horror, combined with a dedication to suspense, marks it as an underappreciated gem in De Palma's oeuvre.
The Blu-ray release itself is meticulous, featuring high-quality video and audio that preserve the film’s aesthetic integrity. Optional English SDH subtitles ensure accessibility, while the bounty of special features—including interviews and archival materials—provides meaningful context and deepens appreciation for the film. The package is rounded out with an illustrated booklet that includes insightful essays and interviews detailing De Palma's relationship with Herrmann and his cinematic influences. Criterion’s release is certainly tailored for both newcomers to De Palma's work and longtime aficionados, offering a comprehensive look at a pivotal film in the director's career.
Brian De Palma's "Sisters" has always been a fascinating, albeit polarizing, film within his oeuvre, marking a blend of his stylistic flourishes and narrative experimentation. While not universally acclaimed as his masterpiece, the film possesses moments of brilliance that showcase De Palma's burgeoning directorial prowess. The recent Criterion Collection Blu-ray release has been highly anticipated by aficionados of the director's work, promising an unparalleled home viewing experience. This edition is reportedly sourced from a meticulous new 4K restoration, ensuring the visual presentation is pristine and likely the definitive version of "Sisters" for home video markets. Although some may find the film itself rough around the edges and yearning for the daring excess characteristic of De Palma's most celebrated works, this release is nevertheless heralded as a must-own for enthusiasts.
The technical aspects of this Criterion Blu-ray are worth noting, especially the video transfer, which is described as nothing short of picture-perfect. This new release breathes life into De Palma's vision with clarity that surpasses previous iterations. Although some may desire a more robust treatment of Bernard Herrmann's stirring score, the audio mix is praised for its quality. The supplementary features, while not overly abundant, are curated to enrich the viewer's understanding and appreciation of the film, contributing to an overall package that resonates with both longtime fans and newcomers.
In conclusion, while "Sisters" might not occupy the highest tier of Brian De Palma's filmography in terms of narrative execution, the Criterion Collection's Blu-ray offers a compelling reason to revisit or discover this intriguing thriller. The outstanding 4K restoration and high-quality audio mix present the film in a light that could potentially sway its critics. Coupled with meaningful extras, this release stands as a testament to the enduring allure of De Palma's work, making it a worthy addition to any cinephile's collection. Despite its perceived narrative flaws, the Blu-ray itself comes highly recommended for its technical merits and the opportunity it affords to experience one of De Palma's earlier cinematic explorations in optimal form.