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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Polish DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New conversation between Pawe? Pawlikowski and filmmaker Alejandro G. Ińárritu
  • Press conference featuring Pawe? Pawlikowski and Lukasz Zal; actors Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, and Borys Szyc; and producer Ewa Puszczynska
  • Documentaries from 2018 on the making of the film
  • Trailer
  • An essay by film critic Stephanie Zacharek

Cold War

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Pawel Pawlikowski
2018 | 88 Minutes | Licensor: Amazon Studios

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #1005
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: November 19, 2019
Review Date: November 19, 2019

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amazon.com  amazon.ca

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SYNOPSIS

This sweeping, delirious romance begins in the Polish countryside, where Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), a musician on a state-sponsored mission to collect folk songs, discovers a captivating young singer named Zula (Joanna Kulig, in a performance for the ages). Over the next fifteen years, their turbulent relationship will play out in stolen moments between two worlds: the jazz clubs of decadent bohemian Paris, to which he defects, and the corrupt, repressive Communist Bloc, where she remains—universes bridged by their passion for music and for each other. Photographed in luscious monochrome and suffused with the melancholy of the simple folk song that provides a motif for the couple’s fateful affair, Pawe? Pawlikowski’s timeless story—inspired by that of his own parents—is a heart-stoppingly grand vision of star-crossed love caught up in the tide of history.


PICTURE

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Academy Award nominated Cold War receives a physical Blu-ray edition from The Criterion Collection, who present the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layer disc. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is sourced from the original 4K digital source.

Filmed digitally in a high-contrast black and white, Cold War comes off looking remarkable on the Blu-ray format. The image is razor sharp throughout, never once looking soft and delivering the most miniscule of detail in every shot; every pore on the face, every stray hair, every bit of stubble, every slight crack in a building, all of it is crystal clear. Contrast looks great, black levels are strong, and whites are bright without blooming, and the grays in between all smoothly transition.

Since this is sourced from a digital image there are no print flaws to speak of. There are also no digital anomalies that stick out and there manages to be a nice photographic look to this. Just based on what I get here in high-definition (and what I was able to discern from the 4K presentation on Amazon Prime) it’s a shame Criterion still hasn’t moved over to 4K UHD because this would just look beyond stunning.

10/10

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AUDIO

The film comes with a rather impressive DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround soundtrack thanks to its use of music. Music plays a big part in the film and it has many sequences around rehearsals, elaborate performances, or even club/bar scenes with dancing, and all of them sound incredible, using the surround presentation effectively to place the viewer in the middle of it. Sound moves naturally between the speakers and dynamic range is impressive with a few wonderful, louder moments. It’s clean, free of damage, and never shows signs of distortion. An excellent track.

9/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Distributed by Amazon Studios in North America and available to stream to Prime members (in 4K as well!) the only real advantage for most in getting this on home video (other than getting a decent bitrate or knowing you’ll have an edition if Amazon disappears with all of their library or if your internet goes down) is probably for special features. Sadly there isn’t a lot here, with most of it being standard studio stuff. At the very least there is a great conversation between Pawlikowski and director Alejandro G. Ińárritu, filmed exclusively by Criterion. It’s a lengthy 37-minute discussion with a good amount about the film itself, particularly its look and fragmented structure (and Pawlikowski’s parents, whose relationship he based the story on), but the interview is best when the two talk about their views on film, filmmaking, editing, and the more technical details, almost like they’re comparing notes.

This is followed by 28-minutes of footage from the Cannes press conference, featuring Pawlikowski, director of photography Lukasz Zal, actors Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot and Borys Szyc, and producer Ewa Puszczy?ska. After starting things off with a question about classic cinema and his influences (David Lean and Brief Encounter get brought up by the reporter, feel the film and director to be an influence, but the director indicates the movie isn’t that special to him, stating later on his primary influence was the Czech New Wave), questions are asked about the story, the black-and-white look, the technical details, and how his films are ultimately constructed. Thankfully some decent questions are asked and this expands on things nicely from the previous interview.

The next couple of features feel like standard PR stuff: the 13-minute Making of “Cold War” and the 16-minute Behind the Scenes of “Cold War”. Both offer interviews with the filmmaker and members of the cast-and-crew, along with offering behind-the-scenes footage, with the latter showing footage around the dance sequences. The disc then closes with the Amazon theatrical trailer and the included insert features an essay by Stephanie Zacharek, touching on this film and Pawlikowski’s other work, like Ida.

The interview is a strong addition with the press conference coming in second, but this is a disappointingly slim release in the end.

6/10

CLOSING

The features are barely better than standard studio fare, but the new interview is a solid addition. Still, the presentation is stellar, the only real shame being that Criterion didn’t consider this the title to debut a 4K UHD disc.


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Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca