In my most recent vlog, I mentioned wanting to introduce one of my friends to the Western genre of movies and finally settling on the seminal Sergio Leone classic, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" as the way to best go about that.
Whoa, good choice!
Now, I had seen the movie before of course. Quite a few times growing up by way of my uncle's VHS collection, and then on the crappy DVD release back in the 90s. But HOLY SHIT -- this latest Blu-ray issue of the movie is, no joke, the most gorgeous version of this film I've ever laid eyes on! I'm sure if I hopped in a time machine back to the 1960s, even the pristine prints when it was newly released in theaters never looked this good.
Seeing the movie in this fashion seriously opened my eyes to what a masterpiece TGTBTU truly is. I recommend all you folks who own Blu-ray players to go out right now and buy this sucker. Actually, hold off on that. Buy the whole "Man With No Name" trilogy--of which this movie is the third title--which is coming out in a nice boxset on Blu-ray next week, if my sources are accurate. The set will contain the same version of TGTBTU already on Blu-ray, along with "A Fistful of Dollars" and "For A Few Dollars More" for the first time in the format.
Anyway, back to the movie I came here to talk about. I don't know if it's just the almost perfect transfer, or because I'm a more critical viewer when it comes to such things, but this film truly is better than even I remembered it being. This honestly is the lens through which all Westerns coming after 1966 should be viewed and appreciated. It helps that something like 16 additional minutes of footage was added, originally taken out of the American release back in 1967. Yes, Leone likes to chew on his scenes and stretch moments out for far longer than is probably necessary. But, hey, the man's a GENIUS so I let him be on that count. There's no arguing that his films are true artistic expressions of the man and his times, but also possessing of a timeless quality that is still every much as enjoyable today as it was then. Days after I've finished watching this version, the visuals, dialogue and--best of all--the MUSIC is still processing in the back of my brain. Coming to me here and there throughout the day when I least expect it to crop up.
Simply put: Wow!
Watching the special features afterwards (of which there are quite a few), I was amazed to learn of the grueling and innovative restoration process the film went through in 2002 to get to this point. I mean, I was truly shell-shocked! It had been so many years since I last saw TGTBTU that I honestly did not realize all of the sound-effects had been replaced, and that parts of the dialogue had been re-recorded in studio. Not to mention all the effort that went into translating the original mono tracks to full Dolby Digital 5.1 surround -- which is not an easy task at all.
Now I know what you're thinking. Say what??? How can a completely new sound stage be a good thing? Why are there new scenes? If Leone had wanted them to be put back in, he would have said so! To which I say: relax, dude. Take a chill pill. Hey, I'm a purist too when it comes to certain things. But I actually think the new sounds are better. It makes the movie even more gritty and poignant. Not to mention FULLER, if such a thing is possible to be believed. And I'll take 5.1 surround over mono 2.0 any day, original intent be damned!
But you know what? You don't have to take my word for it. Check out this 10-minute video that was part of the Special Features offering on the restoration process and see for yourself. I guarantee you'll learn a few things about this awesome film that you never knew, let alone the education you get on just what it takes to bring such an old movie to DVD and Blu-ray in the first place. I certainly feel much better informed now!
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