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A Fistful of Dollars

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    92
    from 4 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • A Fistful of Dollars" shines in 4K, redefining Westerns.

    A Fistful of Dollars 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    87
  • Kino Lorber's 4K Blu-ray of 'A Fistful of Dollars' impressively restores and enhances the film's visuals and colors, though some inconsistencies remain.

  • Audio
    84
  • The Blu-ray's English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 tracks enhance the film with clear dialogue and an enriched score, offering a solid audio experience that suits its epic nature, despite minor dynamic inconsistencies.

  • Extra
    94
  • The release packs a comprehensive collection of commentaries, interviews, archival programs, and promotional materials, offering an in-depth exploration of 'A Fistful of Dollars,' without adding new features.

  • Movie
    87
  • Sergio Leone's 'A Fistful of Dollars' revitalized the Western genre, introducing iconic elements and leading to worldwide acclaim for its star, director, and composer.

    Video: 87

    Kino Lorber's 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "A Fistful of Dollars" presents an impressive restoration effort, showcasing the film in a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image. Originally filmed on 35mm using Arriflex II C cameras in the Techniscope 2-perf format, this edition benefits from over 24 hours of meticulous, shot-by-shot color grading of the newly restored 4K files. The widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio is preserved, coupled with a 10-bit video depth and standard definition color space. While HDR grading is absent, the restoration brings to life the Spanish landscape's breathtaking vistas, the intricate textures of clothing and skin, and vibrant reds and blues replacing previous teal and yellow/brown hues. The color grading aims for authenticity, favoring natural flesh tones and environmental colors over the overly saturated versions seen in previous releases. Although some variances in image quality persist, reflecting the original filming conditions, this release achieves a balance between preserving the film's historical integrity and enhancing it for modern viewing standards.

    The disc utilizes the HEVC (H.265) codec, ensuring efficient compression without sacrificing the fine, organic grain structure that lends the film its cinematic texture. Despite occasional instances of black crush and minor chroma errors, the overall detail in both expansive landscapes and close-ups is exceptional. The absence of HDR does not diminish the image's depth and dimensionality, particularly evident in 2160p resolution. Film grain is noticeable yet unobtrusive, maintaining the film's authentic look without detracting from the clarity brought by the high average bitrate. While the variability in nightlife scenes and certain color temperatures hint at the inherent challenges of restoring a film of this age and condition, the effort largely succeeds in revitalizing "A Fistful of Dollars" for contemporary audiences. This release highlights Kino Lorber’s commitment to reversing previous restoration missteps and sets a high standard for future endeavors in film preservation.

    Audio: 84

    The audio presentation of "A Fistful of Dollars" on its 4K UHD Blu-ray release features two main audio tracks: an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and the classic English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono. The mono track, staying true to its roots, delivers crisp and clear dialogue, with the film's renowned effects such as gunshots, horse trots, and atmospheric sounds coming through with significant vigor despite the format's inherent limitations. The score, an essential component of the film's identity, benefits greatly from this track, presenting with noteworthy intensity and fidelity. Moreover, optional English SDH subtitles are seamlessly integrated within the frame, ensuring a comfortable viewing experience for those in need.

    On the other hand, the 5.1 surround track attempts to broaden the soundstage, offering a slight expansion in spatial dynamics albeit with a front-heavy bias. Dialogue maintains its clarity and is smartly anchored in the center channel, benefiting from the multi-channel separation to ensure distinctness amidst various audio components. The effects gain a subtle boost in range, particularly with added bass depth enhancing certain elements like gunshots, while Ennio Morricone's iconic score truly embraces the expanded soundscape, revealing greater depth and texture that align well with the film’s grandeur. However, it is noted that despite these enhancements, the surround environment doesn't quite immerse as one might expect from more modern mixes.

    This rendition of "A Fistful of Dollars" presents its listeners with a choice between the authentic mono experience or a mildly enriched 5.1 surround sound, each serving the film's audio in ways that respect and enhance the original material. While purists might lean towards the mono for its authenticity, those seeking a slightly fuller audio experience without venturing too far from the source will find solace in the 5.1 mix. Neither track feels forced or over-processed, ensuring that each viewing, regardless of audio preference, remains a genuine homage to this classic western's enduring legacy.

    Extra: 94

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "A Fistful of Dollars" doesn't introduce new extras but carries over a comprehensive selection from its predecessors, ensuring a robust package for aficionados and newcomers alike. The 4K disc is graced with two insightful audio commentaries—one by critic Tim Lucas and the other by film historian Sir Christopher Frayling—providing an in-depth look at the film's production and its significant place in the Western genre. Over on the Blu-ray disc, additional treasures include interviews with key cast members, archival featurettes that delve into the legendary Sergio Leone's work and influence, as well as a fascinating comparison of filming locations then and now. Particularly notable are the archival programs featuring Marianne Koch's reflection on her role, Christopher Frayling's exploration of promotional materials, and a unique look at the network prologue with Howard Dean Stanton. Despite missing the trailer for "Once Upon A Time In The West," this collection remains an exhaustive trove that fans won't want to miss.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentary with Tim Lucas: Lucas offers thorough analysis and exploration of production details.
    • Audio Commentary with Sir Christopher Frayling: Frayling provides historical insight into the film and its impact.
    • Marianne Koch Interview: Koch recalls her casting and experiences during filming.
    • The Christopher Frayling Archives: Frayling showcases his collection of Leone memorabilia.
    • A New Kind of Hero: Examination of the film's reinvention of the Western genre.
    • A Few Weeks In Spain: Clint Eastwood recounts his time working on the film.
    • Tre Voci: Three Friends Remember Sergio Leone: Close associates reminisce about working with Leone.
    • Not Ready for Primetime with Monte Hellman: Discussion on additional footage shot for the TV broadcast version.
    • The Network Prologue with Howard Dean Stanton: Insights into the creation and influence of the prologue.
    • Location Comparisons: Then-and-now looks at filming locations.
    • Trailers from Hell with John Badham: Director Badham discusses the film's trailers.
    • Original Outtakes: A collection of outtakes from the film.
    • A Fistful of Pictures Gallery: Stills from the movie.
    • Promoting A Fistful of Dollars Gallery: Promotional materials from around the world.
    • A Fistful of Dollars On The Set Image Gallery: Production stills document the making of the film.

    Movie: 87

    Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars," through its innovative remake of Kurosawa's "Yojimbo," not only rejuvenated the Western genre but also established itself as a cornerstone in the world of Spaghetti Westerns. The movie’s global acclaim catapulted the careers of Leone, Clint Eastwood, and composer Ennio Morricone into stardom, showcasing a serendipitous confluence of talent that transcended the sum of its parts. The film is distinguished by its portrayal of violence as a lurid spectacle, challenging the sanitized narratives of traditional Westerns. Its stylistic innovations include the extensive use of close-ups and novel shooting angles, laying the groundwork for Leone’s evolving cinematic language. Morricone’s score, redefining Western music, perfectly complements Leone’s visual storytelling, creating an enthralling audio-visual experience that is both groundbreaking and timeless.

    The technical presentation of "A Fistful of Dollars" on 4K UHD Blu-ray by Kino Lorber is commendable for its archival fidelity and restoration quality. Supplementary materials offer comprehensive insights into the film’s production and legacy, including commentaries and interviews with key figures like Leone and Morricone. These features enrich the viewing experience, illuminating the creative processes behind Leone’s stylistic decisions and the film's influence on subsequent Westerns. Despite its minimal budget, the movie’s gritty aesthetic serves as a testament to Leone's ingenuity, transforming financial constraints into a defining element of its visual identity.

    Eastwood’s portrayal of the enigmatic ‘Joe’ ushers in a new archetype in cinematic history—the laconic gunslinger with murky morals but an inherent sense of justice. This characterization, coupled with Leone's audacious narrative structure and Morricone’s iconic score, marks "A Fistful of Dollars" not merely as a pivotal moment in film history but also as a nuanced critique of the Western mythology itself. Its legacy, punctuated by a complex interplay of homage and innovation, continues to resonate, affirming Leone’s masterpiece as a seminal work that reshaped cinematic landscapes.

    Total: 92

    A Fistful of Dollars," an iconic film that redefined the Western genre and marked the beginning of the legendary "Man With No Name Trilogy," receives a commendable yet imperfect transformation in its latest 4K UHD Blu-ray release by Kino Lorber Studio Classics. While not featuring HDR, this remastered version dazzles with a native 4K image that showcases remarkable detail, a significant improvement over past releases plagued by a distracting color bias. The film's inherent cinematic quality is preserved, offering the closest representation of its original theatrical experience. Additionally, the audio fidelity is well-matched to the visual upgrades, ensuring a cohesive viewing experience. The package is further enhanced by an extensive collection of extras, catering to both newcomers and devout fans of Sergio Leone's masterpiece.

    Despite the strides made by Kino Lorber, it is acknowledged within the cinematic community that a definitive restoration by a dedicated institution remains a future prospect. Efforts to mitigate previous restoration missteps are apparent, yet some may find the current presentation lacking in aspects crucial for the ultimate revival these timeless classics demand. Nonetheless, this release represents the most attractive version available to date, bridging the gap until a more comprehensive restoration materializes.

    In conclusion, the 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "A Fistful of Dollars" by Kino Lorber represents a substantial step forward in honoring Sergio Leone's revolutionary work. While acknowledging the limitations of the current restoration efforts, this release stands as an essential acquisition for enthusiasts and collectors alike. It symbolizes a significant achievement in preserving cinematic history, albeit with the understanding that the journey towards the perfect presentation of Leone's vision is ongoing. For now, this edition offers fans the best way to experience the film at home, highly recommended for its visual fidelity and commitment to quality.