Svet reviewed The Night is My Kingdom
and is making the following remark :
"It appears that Gaumont created a very nice remaster for this lovely film, but as it is presented on the Blu-ray its dynamic range is unconvincing. Basically, the gamma levels are off and as a result there are different parts of the film that look uncharacteristically flat. Now, there are certain adjustments that can be done on different equipment to partially restore gamma levels, but the end result isn't always optimal. I don't know if the current gamma settings were introduced when the Blu-ray was encoded or when the restored master was finalized, but as soon as I placed the disc in my player I was able to see the flatness that is noted above. (To get an idea what type of discrepancy can emerge between improper and proper gamma levels, see Gaumont's presentation and Criterion's presentation of the recent restoration of Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows)."
I asked Eclair myself directly about this. They answered me the following :
"The choice of levels, especially black, is an editorial choice not done by Eclair but by the customer on a movie-by-movie basis. This choice is acted in our projection room, where one of our colorist do the grading under the customer's supervision. The colorist brings his experience and culture, in a way that 2 colorists would not always have the same approach for a given movie.
This work is then reported on the video version, where we try to maintain of the original intention to the small screen and its more limited dynamic. A specificity of our chain of work is that our movie colorist supervises the video too, and thus preserves the levels, while video colorists tend to put black levels at 0 by "culture" (often because TV channels could otherwise reject the master).
One remark regarding compression problems : it is true that some discs performed from our restorations have been disrespectfully compressed by other subcontractors. We let the customer know, because in such cases, while we don't control the whole chain of work, the operations performed below can have significant consequences on how our work will look."
What's interesting is that this makes the comparison with Elevator to the Gallows quite moot :
- it means that Criterion willingly modified the restoration to re-adjust the black levels and increase the restoration greyscale dynamic. I don't mind myself, because I prefer blacks at 0 and whites at 255, but it goes what professionnals accept as being the usual 35mm film dynamic in projection. So all considered, it might be perceived as superfluous modifications.
- Elevator has an incorrect encode which most likely isn't coming from the restoration itself but the compression. Eclair does most of Gaumont's encode, and it's doubtful they did the problematic Malle titles' encode (The Lovers also had huge issues).
It also means it's a very conscious choice from Eclair and Gaumont (which can also be found in a few Eclair / Pathé restorations), and not a mistake introduced somewhere along the process.
In a similar case, Criterion's use of Gaumont's restoration for Dreyer's Joan of Arc also is through a re-adjustment of the contrast.