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Ragtime

Blu Ray

  • Score
    63
    from 1 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Engaging cinema artistry in a fantastic Blu-ray release, rich in supplements and quality.

    Ragtime Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    73
  • Paramount's 4K remastered Ragtime boasts a spectacular, filmic picture with rich details, fine grain, vibrant colors, and perfect clarity, delivering an authentic, visually stunning experience."

  • Audio
    68
  • Ragtime's Blu-ray features a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack focused on the front, delivering authentic, well-detailed music and dialogue. Despite lacking precision in chaotic scenes, it provides a generally acceptable sound experience with a front-heavy but satisfying core effect.

  • Extra
    53
  • The release includes a director's cut workprint with defects, featurettes, deleted scenes in black and white, and discussions on Ragtime's making, showcasing its preservation and intricate backstory.

  • Movie
    68
  • Paramount's 'Ragtime' Blu-ray presents a visually and sonically impressive release of the complex, early 1900s-set drama, enriched with extras and an alternate workprint, despite its slightly unfocused narrative.

    Video: 73

    Paramount's Blu-ray release of "Ragtime," remastered from a 4K film transfer, sets a high bar for home entertainment, demonstrating an impeccable attention to detail that fans of the 'Paramount Presents' line have come to expect. The presentation vividly embodies the original filmic essence, maintaining a faithful adherence to its roots with a display that showcases exceptional clarity, color accuracy, and an organic grain structure. This release is distinguished by its rich detail and fine grain from the outset, capturing the elegance and depth of the movie's opening scenes. The commitment to retaining the film's authentic texture results in a visually stunning experience that faithfully reproduces the intricate details of the period's production design, enhancing the viewer's immersion into the film's historical context.

    The video presentation excels in its rendition of color and contrast, offering a visually striking experience that complements the narrative's depth. The colors are vibrant and true-to-life, from the bold reds, whites, and blues to the more subdued and natural tones that fill the screen, ensuring a picture that is as expressive as it is precise. This balanced color palette, alongside immaculate black levels and brilliant whites, contributes to a picture quality that breathes life into every frame. Flesh tones appear natural and consistent, reinforcing the authenticity and emotional resonance of the characters’ experiences. Paramount has ensured that this visual feast remains unmarred by digital or print artifacts, securing a pristine viewing experience that will satisfy cinephiles and casual viewers alike.

    Paramount's dedication to presenting "Ragtime" in the best possible light is evident in every aspect of this Blu-ray’s video section. With excellent facial detail rendering and a thoughtful representation of the period attire, the transfer not only highlights the technical prowess behind the film’s production but also elevates the storytelling to new heights. The fine balance between preserving the filmic quality and optimizing it for modern home theaters has been expertly achieved, delivering a viewing experience that is both immersive and nostalgically pleasing. The video presentation of "Ragtime" on Blu-ray stands as a testament to what can be achieved when technological excellence meets a reverence for cinematic artistry.

    Audio: 68

    The audio presentation of "Ragtime" on Blu-ray, featuring a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack, delivers a primarily front-heavy experience that doesn't diverge into the realms of audio extravagance but maintains an authentic aura. Despite its inclination towards the front, the audio track exhibits commendable balance within its inherent limitations, showcasing well-detailed musical scores and dialogue. Music is presented with a focus on the frontal speakers, creating an engaging experience for the listener, while dialogue remains anchored at the center front, ensuring clarity and intelligibility.

    However, certain segments where the film escalates into bustling chaos or vibrant street scenes, notably around the 20-minute and 30-minute marks respectively, reveal a lack of precision and immersion. The audio in these instances feels somewhat compressed to the front, leading to a blend that could be described as slightly muddled, though it's generally acceptable within the context of the entire presentation. The explosion towards the film’s conclusion stands out as a moment where the soundtrack reaches its peak, offering a more substantial impact that, while still aligning with the front-heavy nature of the track, provides a satisfactory auditory climax without veering into overpowering bass territory.

    Paramount’s treatment of "Ragtime’s" audio on Blu-ray does not aim for an immersive auditory spectacle but instead focuses on delivering each element with fidelity and balance, catered to its original sound design. The soundtrack captures the essence of the era and narrative through its careful handling of music and dialogue, achieving sonic satisfaction by adhering to its natural sonic landscape. This approach respects the film’s authentic atmosphere, favoring a straightforward and front-centered audio presentation that remains faithful to its source material.

    Extra: 53

    The "Ragtime" Blu-ray extra features offer a blend of newly minted and legacy content that significantly enriches the viewing experience. The crown jewel of this collection is the director's cut workprint on the second disc, presented with a note on its unique, preserved status courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art and The Film Foundation. While this version exhibits signs of aging and editorial process artifacts, such as print wear and intermittent black-and-white footage, it remains a fascinating watch for enthusiasts keen on film restoration. Also included are engaging discussions, particularly "Ragtime Revisited," which delves into the intricate process of adapting the story to screen, alongside a comprehensive look at the film's thematic depth and production nuances in "Remembering Ragtime." The inclusion of deleted and extended scenes, albeit in black-and-white and without contextual markers, further appeals to those interested in the film's narrative development stages. This release not only showcases the conscientious effort put into preserving film history but also enriches the viewer's understanding and appreciation of "Ragtime."

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Director's Cut Workprint: A preserved director's cut workprint with text introduction about its uniqueness and current state, showing signs of age but providing a valuable watch experience.
    • NEW! Deleted and Extended Scenes: A compilation of several black-and-white scenes, provided without titles or markers, depicting parts of the story not included in the theatrical release.
    • NEW! Ragtime Revisited: A conversation with Larry Karaszewski and screenwriter Michael Weller on the origins, screenplay, themes, and characterization of "Ragtime."
    • Deleted Scene: Another lengthy deleted scene, primarily in black and white, offered without textual markers, offering insight into the cutting room floor choices.
    • Remembering Ragtime: An exploration of the film's themes, scriptwriting process, production details, cast, characters, and performances.

    Movie: 68

    Paramount's release of the 1981 classic 'Ragtime' on Blu-ray pertains to sparkle with a commendable 1080p video transfer complemented by a vibrant and clean 5.1 lossless soundtrack, capturing the essence of early 1900s America with precision and emotional depth. This addition to the studio’s 'Paramount Presents' line not only tends to elevate the technical presentation of the film but also enriches the viewing experience with a plethora of extras, including an intriguing "Director's Cut Workprint." Although presented in a condition that's watchable despite flaws and running nearly three hours, this extended version offers a unique glimpse into the director’s broader vision, albeit with challenges in cohesiveness.

    Set against the backdrop of the Teddy Roosevelt administration, 'Ragtime' weaves a complex narrative around the central figure of Coalhouse Walker Jr., a black ragtime pianist portrayed by Howard Rollins. His quest for justice and dignity in the face of egregious racism and personal tragedy encapsulates a broader examination of societal, cultural, and racial tensions of the era. The film presents a multifaceted portrayal of America at a crossroads, exploring themes of racism, justice, and human depravity through a tableau of interlinked characters and storylines. While the narrative breadth of the film deftly mirrors the expanse of the novel it's based on, the film’s somewhat diffused focus across an array of subplots suggests a missed opportunity for tighter storytelling that could have amplified its impact.

    Despite these narrative ambitions potentially overreaching at times, 'Ragtime' distinguishes itself through meticulous period detail and standout performances, crafting an immersive turn-of-the-century milieu. From accurately recreated set pieces to the smallest of period-appropriate details, the film excels in transporting audiences back in time, supported by actors who seamlessly embody their roles. This level of commitment to authenticity, alongside Miloš Forman's direction, showcases cinema that not only tells a captivating story but also serves as a poignant reflection on American life at a moment of significant social and cultural flux. While the film might benefit from a more focused approach to its central narrative, its exploration of themes and characters remains compellingly relevant, marking 'Ragtime' as a vital piece of cinematic artistry.

    Total: 63

    The Blu-ray release of "Ragtime" presents a compelling case for the film's historic and artistic value, offering an immersive viewing experience that is both visually striking and audibly pleasing. While acknowledging the movie's imperfections, it is impossible to overlook its potent storytelling and cinematic craftsmanship, particularly in its enthralling second half. The technical quality of the Blu-ray enhances this experience, ensuring that the film's visual and audio elements are presented with clarity and fidelity. The addition of a rich selection of supplements further elevates this release, making it a comprehensive package for both enthusiasts and new viewers alike.

    Particularly noteworthy is the inclusion of a second disc featuring a nearly three-hour workprint cut of the film. This rare addition not only provides an invaluable insight into the film's production process but also offers fans an alternate vision of the narrative, supplementing the primary content with expansive depth and context. Such extras demonstrate a commitment to preserving the film's legacy and providing a thorough exploration of its themes and craftsmanship. The overall presentation quality of the Blu-ray, from its visual to auditory aspects, ensures that despite its inherent flaws, "Ragtime" remains a powerful and engaging piece of cinema.

    In conclusion, this Blu-ray release of "Ragtime" is an exemplary showcase of how to balance a film's historical importance with its entertainment value, supported by superb technical specifications and enriching supplementary materials. Though the film itself may not be flawless, this release captures its essence and enhances its appeal, making it a highly recommended addition to any collection. The meticulous attention to audio-visual quality, coupled with the extensive array of extras, cements this Blu-ray as a must-have for aficionados of cinematically significant works.