Hey, How About Howards End?

Alrighty, well I did Remains Of the Day, so I might as well do the other one!  Not that Howard's End and Remains are particularly similar once you get past the repeat personnel.  James Ivory, Ismael Merchant, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins all collaborated on this the year before.  But this one's based on a novel by E.M. Forster and has nothing to do with Nazis.  Actually, it might have more in common with Sense & Sensibility, as we've got Thompson playing a sterner, wiser older sister at ideological odds with a more romantic and naive younger sister, this time played by Helena Bonham Carter.  Anyway, I've been itching to cover this one since it came out as an import-only UHD last year.
This time our protagonists are not in service.  Vanessa Redgrave is a romantic, upper class lady who makes a fast friendship with the middle class Thompson.  When she passes on, she leaves her estate, the titular Howards End, to Thompson and her family.  But Redgrave's own family, headed by Hopkins, cannot accept this and secretly manage to keep the property for themselves.  Carter, meanwhile, takes pity on a decidedly lower class London couple and struggles to support them.  Things seem complicated enough, but get much more so when Thompson and Hopkins fall in love and marry, unaware of the lies that bind them.
This is Merchant/ Ivory at their best.  The plot may be a bit predictable (even from my very brief description above, you can probably guess who ultimately ends up with Howards End), but it takes some unexpected turns along and delivers some powerful drama along the way.  It won three Oscars and was nominated for six more, including best picture.  And while I'm not one to place a lot of stock in the Academy Awards (I mean, they named Crash best picture of 1994!), it's hard not to find what they saw in this picture.  Sure, the excellent period production values and lush costumes, but the performances and writing are peak cinema.
Howards End debuted on DVD way back in 1999 from Columbia Tri-Star.  It was a strong presentation (as their releases typically were), but quite barebones.  This was rectified in 2004, when Home Vision reissued this film as part of their Merchant Ivory Collection, with a nice collection of extras.  In 2009, Criterion brought it to blu, albeit with the same selection of special features.  I skipped that edition, but pounced in 2018, when Concorde released an all new, 4k restoration of Howards End as a proper 4K Ultra HD (and BD in the combo pack), with an all new crop of extras to boot.  That 4k restoration was released it in the US, too, by Cohen Media Group, but it was BD only, and apparently had issues with its aspect ratio and black levels to boot.  So importing Concorde was a no-brainer.
1) 1999 Columbia Tri-Star DVD; 2) 2004 Home Vision DVD;
3) 2018 Concorde BD; 4) 2018 Concorde UHD.
Even the oldest 90s DVD is anamorphic widescreen, non-interlaced and really quite respectable.  It does have a slight pillarbox matte along the left-hand side, framing it to a slightly off 2.31:1, though it actually shows a sliver more information on that side than any other release.  The Home Vision DVD is still 2.31:1, but now fills the full horizontal frame and pushes in just slightly tighter.  Then Concorde pushes in a little tighter to finally meet the proper 2.39:1 framing.  What you probably first notice, though, looking at these comparisons is the shift in colors.  The DVDs have a red push to them, particularly the Home Vision disc, which is decidedly too orange where even the skin tones get weird.   The Concorde transfer gives it a more natural, cooler tone.  And between the two Concordes, the UHD has a more attractive, bolder tone than the BD, which is essentially the same timing but paler.
1) 1999 Columbia Tri-Star DVD; 2) 2004 Home Vision DVD;
3) 2018 Concorde BD; 4) 2018 Concorde UHD.
And to see the benefits of the increased resolution, just look at the flower from the first set of shots come to photo realistic life from left to right.  Grain is naturally captured even on the Blu, but you see how much more naturalism there still is to be mined from the image.

One minor bummer is that only the first 1999 DVD includes the original stereo mix (plus a French dub and English and French subs).  From the Home Vision DVD on (and yes, the Criterion, too), the stereo track is replaced with a new 5.1, which is quite good, but not the original audio.  Home Vision also has English subtitles, and Concorde bumps the 5.1 up to DTS-HD on both discs, and also includes German 2.0 and 5.1 tracks and optional English subtitles.
"Wiedershehen in" means "Meet again in"
There is one language-related point I have to make about the Concorde release, though.  Their disc is completely English friendly (you can play the film with the English audio and no subs, and all of the special features are in English, too), even the credits are in English (it's "A Merchant/ Ivory Film" not, "un filme de") but the film itself has language-specific title cards.  So "four months later," is written on screen in German.  Usually most films take on that expense, and only subtitle the film's cards.  So it's classy that they went to the trouble to make foreign cards for foreign markets.  But it does make it a little weird for English-speaking audiences to suddenly be confronted with a bit of German.  There are only a handful of title cards, indicating the title and dates on-screen, so English audiences will be able to figure it out.  But I could see US viewers being annoyed by it, so I wanted to be sure to point it out.
Now, over the years, we've Howards End's gotten some sweet extras.  The 1999 DVD was barebones apart from the trailer, but The Merchant Ivory Collection DVD introduced some great stuff.  Primarily, they created two 45-50 minute documentaries.  One on the making of the film, which interviews pretty much all the cast and crew, and the second about the Merchant/ Ivory/ Jhabvala trio and their long history in film.  Then there's a nice interview with the production designer, and two brief, vintage promo featurettes, one about the film and one about Merchant/ Ivory.  The Criterion release kept all of that, and also added a new, on-camera interview with Merchant.

But instead of licensing all of that, Concorde chucked all those extras out and came up with their own stuff.  First up is an audio commentary with two film critics.  It's generally pretty good, well paced and informative, but one of the two critics has basically watched all of the previous extras and is repeating all of the trivia and anecdotes from them.  In a way, that's good, because if we're losing those extras, at least we still get all of that info.  But it's painfully redundant if you already have one of the older editions, and also, several of the anecdotes, particularly the humorous ones, don't really work as well being told second-hand as they did when the actual cast and crew were sharing their moments in the documentary.  But okay, I'll take it.  Then, there are three new interviews with James Ivory.  One is a straight-forward one with a critic, one is a Q&A with an audience filmed at a screening, and one is a brief conversation with Vanessa Redgrave.  All good content, but some stuff stuff does get repeated over and over.  They also add a second trailer (so, two total) and a couple of bonus trailers, plus reversible artwork so you can hide the big ratings logo.
So, overall, Criterion still has the best set of extras, but not by a particularly wide margin.  Meanwhile, the Concorde UHD, with the obvious advantage of being a higher level format in general, offers the best presentation of the film.  I'd say the ideal way to go is the Concorde (unless that small handful of title cards really bother you) and then just copping the DVD version of the Criterion extras, if you're a big enough fan.  Many people will probably find just the Concorde extras alone are good enough, but it is great to hear from the other cast and crew members.  Me, I've got the Concorde and just holding onto my Home Vision DVD was close enough (I only miss out on one Merchant interview, and he's already interviewed in most of those older docs and featurettes).  It's another build-your-own ideal special edition scenario, but you can wind up with a pretty awesome one.

A Pair of Twilight Times #2: The Remains Of the Day

You may've guessed what Twilight Time #2 would be, since I named this film in my Twilight Time #1 post.  Sony double-featured the two films on DVD in 2010, though they don't have much to do with each other apart from starring Emma Thompson and having come out only a couple years apart (The Remains Of the Day in 1993, then Sense and Sensibility in 1995).  But they were also two must have blus from Twilight Time, so here we are.
The Remains Of the Day is the second of two back-to-back films where Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson are at possible romantic odds with each other, directed by James Ivory, produced by Ismael Merchant, and written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.  The other, of course, being Howards End.  Certainly, there's a lot to distinguish the two, but since neither title particularly sets its film apart (one is abstractly vague and the other's just the name of the house), my short-hand for differentiating them is that this is the one with Christopher Reeves.  That's somebody you don't come across in a lot of English films.  So just commit that little "Remains Of the Day = Christopher Reeves" formula to memory, and you'll never confuse the two again.
But let's get serious about Remains Of the Day, because it deserves it.  Based on a novel by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, this film takes place in two timelines, before and after the second world war.  In the latter, head butler Hopkins has to come to grips with the fact that he devoted his life and everything he believed in to the lord of his house, who turned out to be an infamous Nazi sympathizer.  Mike Nichols was originally set to direct, and he stayed on to produce after he had to drop out, giving the film to the Merchant/ Ivory team as the material was obviously in their wheelhouse.  The whole cast is superb (yes, even Reeves), including pitch perfect supporting performances by Peter Vaughan, James Fox and Hugh Grant.
The Remains Of the Day has had a pretty simple life on home video.  It was released on DVD by Sony in 2001 as a pretty attractive special edition.  There was that double-feature disc with Sense in 2010, but otherwise that one DVD has been the whole story until 2013, when Sony released it on blu in the UK and other foreign regions.  Two years later, and Twilight Time brought it home to the US with their edition in 2015.
2001 Sony DVD top; 2015 Twilight Time BD bottom.
Okay, I left the negative space around the first set of shots so you can see how the old DVD is slightly window-boxed.  Back in 2001, I guess that all would've fallen into overscan area anyway, but it does change the aspect ratio from 2.33:1 on the DVD to an even wider 2.39:1 now on the blu.  Curiously, even with those vertical bars and narrower ratio, the DVD manages to have slightly more info along the sides.  That's because the DVD is slightly squished, which the BD corrects.  Colors remain almost the same, although there is a bit of a red overcast that the blu-ray clears up (look at the sky behind Hugh in the first shots).  And while the DVD was anamorphic, non-interlaced and generally quite good for such an older disc, the blu is still a big win with crisp detail and finely rendered grain.  The DVD also shows some serious artifacting along its edges, which the blu happily removes.  All in all, this is an even greater improvement than I was expecting to find in this comparison.

One minor disappointment is that the original DVD gave us the choice between the original stereo mix and a new 5.1, plus French, Portuguese and Spanish dubs with English, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai subtitle options.  Twilight Time unsurprisingly drops the foreign language options, but they also dropped the original stereo track.  So we just get the 5.1 (though now in lossless DTS-HD) and English subs.
Sony's original DVD was pretty nice with the special features, too.  It features a lively audio commentary with Ivory, Merchant and Thompson, which strikes a nice balance between the seriously informative and anecdotal.  There are several deleted scenes, also with optional commentary, and three substantial featurettes that add up to roughly 75 minutes of 'making of' content, including interviews with all the stars, writers and major players, and some B-roll glimpses behind-the-scenes.  We're definitely talking more than your standard promotional quickie.  You also got the trailer and an insert with chapter stops.

Thankfully, Twilight Time retains all of that.  They don't add much more, but that's alright considering how much we already got.  They do add their signature isolated score track, of course.  Plus they throw in a second, international trailer and an 8-page booklet with notes by Julie Kirgo.  But basically, all the good stuff comes from the DVD.
So this is an easy recommendation.  A great presentation of a great film.  And even if you got one of those 2013 import blus, you might want to consider replacing it with Twilight Time's.  Not only did they not get the little Twilight Time exclusives: the isolated score and the trailers, they also seem to have dropped the audio commentary.  So even though Sony surely used the same transfer in every region, the US disc is a clear winner.

A Pair of Twilight Times #1: Sense & Sensibility

Boy, I've gotta get in gear - my list of discs I plan to cover on this site is outpacing the posts I actually get done.  I've got so much I want to do here!  There are so many compelling new releases coming out, but I don't want to get trapped into only covering new releases.  So let's jump right into A Pair of Twilight Times, starting with Sense & Sensibility.  Specifically, this is the 1995 Academy Award winning feature film version adapted by Emma Thompson and directed by Ang Lee.
Sense & Sensibility is Jane Austen's first novel with surprisingly clear themes - one sister represents the sense (pragmatism) and the other the sensibility (romanticism).  You don't exactly need an advanced degree in literature.  But it's still such a rich, layered and funny story, and Thompson expertly compresses the novel to feature length without compromising any of the wit or heart, while Lee presents us with sweeping vistas and gorgeous locales.  The cast is perfectly charming and marvelous, from leads Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant and of course Thompson herself, to the brilliantly selected supporting players like Imelda Staunton, Hugh Laurie, Robert Hardy and Elizabeth Spriggs.  I could go on and on about the merits about this film, but I don't think I need to.  1995's Sense & Sensibility is pretty widely recognized as classic desert island material.  You know, for a while a thought my DVD would be good enough, but no, this requires a proper upgrade.
Sense and Sensibility debuted on DVD all the way back in 1999 with an anamorphic special edition which held up well throughout all of the SD days.  As such, the DVD was reissued multiple times over the years, once packaged with a paperback copy of the novel, once with a hokey Sense and Sensibility-branded diary and pen, and once as a double-feature with Remains Of the Day.  But it was always the same DVD.  It's the HD era now, though, so we needed a blu-ray.  And this was just the kind of high-profile title you could count on Twilight Time to license from Sony.  And so in 2015, thankfully, instead of their standard barebones editions, they came through with a proper special edition.
1999 Columbia Tri-Star DVD top; 2015 Twilight Time BD bottom.
This turned out to be an even bigger bump than I was expecting.  Naturally, the DVD being from the 90s has a lot of chunky compression that I was confident Twilight Time would neatly tidy up.  And we advance from a slightly pillar-boxed 1.76:1 to a letterboxed 1.85:1.  That amounts to us losing a dollop along the top; but gaining a sliver on the right.  It's really less about picture information than just graduating to a proper, more natural AR.  But beyond those predicted improvements, we can also see that the DVD also had a red hue over the whole image, which the blu lifts off, allowing the colors to really pop as a result.  Whites are now truly white instead of pink, and the sky is gently blue instead of scary purple. Grain is rather finely captured.  Say whatever else you want about 'em; you always get good scans when you deal with Sony.

Columbia actually gave us a choice between the original Dolby stereo mix and a newly created 5.1, not to mention Portuguese and Spanish dubs.  It also had English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai subtitles.  Twilight Time has kept both audio tracks, and bumped them up to DTS-HD in the process, but cut the subtitles down to just English.
So one reason I held onto the DVD for so long was because it is nicely furnished with extras.  We get two audio commentaries: one with Thompson and producer Lindsay Doran, and the other with Lee and producer James Schamus - and they're both very good.  Not enough discs let us hear from the screenwriters, and it's all the more rewarding when said screenwriter is Emma Thompson.  We also get two brief but amusing deleted scenes, Thompson's clever acceptance speech at The Golden Globes, the trailer, a four-page insert with notes by an uncredited author and some bonus trailers.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Twilight Time not only carried over all the old DVD extras, which they definitely don't always do (*cough, cough* As Good As It Gets *cough).  But I was even more delighted when I realized that they were also including several vintage but previously unreleased featurettes.  There are five in total, and grant us interviews with many of the cast and crew, and some tantalizing glimpses behind-the-scenes.  There's also Twilight Time's ever reliable isolated score track, an additional international trailer and an 8-page booklet with notes by Julie Kirgo.
Hey!  While I'm here, why don't we take a quick look at all the other versions of Sense & Sensibility out there.  Yes, I know... this is why my "plan to cover"s are outpacing my "covered"s, but let's do it anyway.  All told, there are four direct adaptations of Sense & Sensibility, not including this ridiculous thing and the modernized Kollywood adaptation.  Memorably, there is one for each decade.  We've just been over the 90's one, so here are the other three.
2009 2 Entertain/ Warner Bros/ BBC DVD.
The 70's Version - Originally aired in 1971 and divided into four 45-minute long episodes.  Being a series rather than a single film, the expectation is that now we're finally going to see all the parts cut out book for the film's screenplay in this much longer version.  And there is a little of that, but really, this is only about 40 minutes longer, so it's not a revelation of restored characters and plot points.  Indeed, this version trims out Margaret, the youngest of the three main sisters.  The additional bits we do get are nice, but hampered by the far more constrained production.  Sir John is played by an actor too young for the part, hamming it up like a school play's Mr. Fezziwig, and pretty much every scene is necessarily "stagey."  Certainly, there's enough here to recommend it to the committed Austenphiles - Keeping Up Appearance's Patrica Routledge steals every scene she's in.  But this is certainly the most forgettable entry out of the lot, remarkable mainly only for being the first.

The BBC's DVD is appropriately full-frame (it was a 70's television production, after all), at 1.31:1.  It's also interlaced, though that may be less of a PAL to NTSC conversion thing than just a baked-in trait of a vintage TV tape master.  But less forgivable is the strong edge enhancement, which would've been the sort of thing you could get away with more easily in the smaller screen days of standard definition, but really looks poor on modern televisions.  The disc is completely barebones, though it does offer optional English subtitles.
2004 Warner Bros/ BBC DVD.
The 80's Version - First broadcast in 1981, this adaptation is broken up into seven short (22-23 minutes long) episodes.  When you consider the fact that means we're getting seven sets of opening and closing credits, that makes it only slightly longer than the movie.  Indeed, poor Margaret gets the chop here, too.  Still, they manage to find some excellent moments and memorable exchanges the 90's version neglected, and generally does a much better job of drawing out the comedy than the 70's version.  For instance, they get some of the best use out of secondary characters like Robert Ferrars and Mr. Palmer.  Admittedly, a handful of moments get overwrought in this one, but the way it's broken into such shorter pieces, make it uniquely pleasant to casually graze on over time rather then binge in a single run.

Curiously, this release is a flipper disc with a blank side.  It's fullscreen, too, as it should be, at 1.32:1, but it's also interlaced and a bit hazy, though at least not as tampered with as the 70's version.  I assume this was shot on tape, too, so there are no film elements to go back to, meaning this is probably about as good as it possibly could look.  Showing this off on your big-screen TV definitely won't impress your neighbors, but Warner describes this as "lovingly remastered" and I believe them.  Optional English subtitles are included, but nothing else.  This one's available separately, but if you're a fan, I'd recommend getting it as part of the 6-disc Jane Austen Collection, which includes a strong 70s-80s BBC adaptation of each of Austen's novels.
2008 2 Entertain/ WGBH/ BBC DVD.
The 2000's Version - From 2008.  I was excited for this one, as it's by Andrew Davies, the man who gave us the ultimate Pride & Prejudice, not to mention a wealth of terrific Dickens and other masterpiece adaptations.  It might sound corny, and admittedly he's had one or two misfires in his storied career, but I'd say his name is a genuine hallmark of quality.  Well, I can't say he quite matched his Pride, but this is a strong version in its own right, with some slightly shameless attempts to make this production a little more risque.  It opens with a sexy fireplace love scene and features a fit Edward chopping wood in a wet, transparent shirt.  Comprising just three, longer episodes, this series' noteworthy casting includes The Walking Dead's notorious Governor as Colonel Brandon and an excellent Sir John, plus it's also got a very seductive score that sticks with you.  In a vacuum, I'd recommend this version, but living in a world that's already presented us with three previous Sense and Sensibilities, this one doesn't give us too much that we don't already have.  I'd say the 90s version is the most engaging watch, and the 80s adds a lot from the book that the later editions let slip away.  So once you've got those two, there isn't so much value left to extract from the 70s and 2000s versions.

Still, it's good enough that you may well want to pick this up.  And if you do, well, it definitely looks more modern with its widescreen 1.78:1 framing and clearly high def source.  But of course it's been brought down to a standard def DVD, and an unfortunately interlaced one at that  And a film this new really has no excuse to be interlaced, so it doesn't get the pass I'm giving to the previous to editions.  Apart from that, though, it looks nice enough.  The colors are vivid, and it doesn't feel like we're many generations removed from the source film.  Oh, and yes, English subtitles are an option here, too.
Miss Austen Regrets
In fact, this is also a nice little special edition.  Each episode gets an audio commentary by a revolving team of cast and crew: director John Alexander, producer Anne Pivcevic, Hattie Morahan who plays Elinor and Dan Stevens who plays Edward on episode 1, then Alexander, Charity Wakefield who played Marianne and Dominic Cooper who played Willoughby on episode 2, and finally the episode 1 team again for the last one.  Then there's a half-hour interview with interview Davies and Pivcevic, who spend a surprising amount of time talking about the Thompson film, and a photo gallery.  And that's just disc 1.  A second bonus disc includes the fine, feature-length dramatization of Jane Austen's real life, Miss Austen Regrets.  It's letterboxed to an unusual 1.81:1 and is also interlaced, looking generally as good as Sense, and also includes English subtitles.  In addition, there's a substantial audio-only extra: Remembering Jane Austen, a 70-minute, four-part radio play based on the memoir of James Austen-Leigh, the only written account of somebody who personally knew her.

This 2-disc set is available separately or in an attractively boxed Collector's Set box that pairs it with the 2007 adaptation of Persuasion.   There is also a Japanese 2-disc blu-ray release, which hopefully(!) clears up the interlacing issue and sharpens up some of the fine detail, but it's hard to find any concrete information about it online, and from what I gather is missing all of the special features, apart from the Davies/ Pivcevic interview and the photo gallery.
So the 90's version has been given an essential blu-ray release by Twilight Time.  It's a classic film with a terrific transfer and first class treatment all around.  It also has more special features than any other version, as older discs lacked the featurettes and Sony's foreign blu-rays are missing the commentaries and basically everything except said featurettes.  Twilight Time's the only one that's got it all, which makes it an easy recommendation.  And as for the other Sense & Sensibilities?  Well, I'd start with the one from the 80's, then possibly add the 2000's and 1970's versions, in that order, depending how Austen-mad you are.  Oh, and actually you could squeeze that Kollywood version in there ahead of the 70's version, too.  It's pretty neat and the musical numbers are beautifully filmed.  The Kino DVD has English subs.

When Nicolas Roeg Met Dennis Potter: Track 29

1988's Track 29 is a late entry of Nicolas Roeg (R.I.P.)'s and Dennis Potter's that fans tend to let slip off the ends of both of their oeuvres.  For Potter, it comes right at the peak of his Blackeyes period, where his work was getting increasingly overwrought, and even long-term admirers were beginning to turn on him.  And for Roeg, well, from all the commemorations I've been reading of him over the past two days, he seems to be essentially remembered as simply the director of Don't Look Now and maybe two other films quietly preserved in the Criterion Collection.  Well, here's another very noteworthy creation they haven't gotten to yet; it hasn't even been released in HD anywhere in the world.  Yes, it's DVD only I'm afraid, but I think you'll find it's definitely worth getting your hands a little dirty and reaching back into the world of standard definition video for it.

Update 11/26/18 - 6/15/19: It looks like somebody had the same idea I had when we lost Roeg - it was time to revisit this film.  New this month from Indicator/ Power House is an impressive special edition blu-ray of Track 29, no longer DVD-only.
Track 29 is a remake of Potter's original 1974 BBC teleplay, Schmoedipus, with Gary Oldman in the lead role, originally played by Tim Curry.  So yes, it's another in a line of big screen cinematic Potter remakes like Pennies From Heaven or The Singing Detective.  But unlike those, which struggled to condense robust miniseries into a single feature's running time, this one actually expands what was just over an hour long to 90+ minutes.  So happily, this one isn't a "Reader's Digest" triviality, instead managing to retain pretty much everything that worked in the original.  The bulk of Track 29's dialogue, at least between the two main characters, is almost word-for-word as it was written in Scmoedipus.
But if Potter was already getting overwrought, he found an enabler in his partnership with Roeg.  To some degree, this is great.  We get to open up the action which previously took place 75% in a single London apartment to a wealth of North Carolinian locations, and you can just tell that creative photography of the underwater swimming pool shots or the bumper cars' electric stalks sparking in Theresa Russell's bedroom are very welcome additions brought to the table by having a visionary, A-list director.  But the absolute insanity of Christopher Lloyd's political rally of model train enthusiasts which expands what was the husband's completely realistic and grounded hobby in the original version just gets downright bizarre.
But it's not just Roeg's influence that takes this film into over-the-top territory.  As much as the bulk of the original has been faithfully transcribed here, Potter has also made some sensationalized changes.  Where the original tracked the husband character's frustrations with his daily life with him failing to connect to his coworkers or getting chewed out by his manager, Bob Hoskins (here replaced by by the equally terrific Seymour Cassel), he's now indulging in a humorously kinky affair with his nurse, played by none other than Sandra Bernhard.  The original had a simple, natural exchange where the husband points out a beautiful girl on the street and his coworker claims not to notice and then calmly chastises him.  Here, Sandra puts on red rubber gloves and a conductor's hat to spank him to a specially prepared cassette tape.  The same basic themes are presented, but it's a hugely different tone.  And I won't get into any spoilers, but the ending has completely changed.
But don't take this as one long gripe.  It's not all change for the worse.  I would say I slightly prefer the original, thanks in part to Curry's frightening performance, and the fact that the extra half hour does more to dilute the original's power than enhance it.  But this fresh take is often quite rewarding.  It's certainly a lot more artful and entertaining to look at.  And the new ending, while far less subtle, might actually work a bit better, at least in some ways.  You do get the impression that Potter has had the chance to ruminate on this material and make some new observations.  Plus, the new cast is terrific.  And at least taken on its own terms, as opposed to in direct comparison to the original, it's certainly a dark, fascinating little film that has the power to raise eyebrows just like Potter did in '74.
I used to own the original 2007 Anchor Bay DVD, but I sold it off when I replaced it for the 2012 Image DVD long before I thought of creating this site.  But I can tell you that it was barebones and fullscreen, looking more or less like a video tape transposed to disc.  Image's DVD, then, is an anamorphic widescreen disc.  But I'm happy to leave them both in the past now that Indicator has released the film on BD this summer.
2012 US Image DVD top; 2019 UK Indicator BD bottom.
The DVD is certainly soft and standard def... I'm surprised they came out with a widescreen update of a catalog title as late as 2012 and released it as DVD only.  Still, it was a welcome improvement over the Anchor Bay disc, looking naturally framed (at 1.78:1) and again, anamorphic.  The only major drawback, as you can plainly see in a couple of the shots above, is that it has interlacing issues.  Those are of course gone, now, on Indicator's new blu-ray.  It's a bit brighter, clearer, and matted a little tighter at 1.85:1.  Still, it's not the greatest HD restoration I've ever seen.  Grain is soft when it's there at all, and there's plenty of pixelation and digital noise when you look closely.  The booklet simply says, "HandMade's HD remaster was the source of this Indicator edition," suggesting this is an old HD master - the same one used for the Image DVD, by the looks of it.  It certainly trumps the DVD, and is perfectly adequate as a BD transfer; but if you're looking for a Roeg-worthy restoration or anything cutting edge, this'll be a bit of a let-down.

Image's audio is just your basic Dolby stereo mix, which is perfectly fine, and lacks subtitle accompaniment.  Indicator did just alright in terms of PQ, but they really come through in every other department.  The stereo mix is bumped up to LPCM and English-language subtitles have been added, plus they've gone the extra mile and included an isolated music and effects track.
And they do even better in the special features department, turning this into a proper special edition.  Image gave us nothing, not even the trailer.  Well, the trailer's here now, and so is so much more.  We get an excellent audio commentary by film historian Jim Hemphill, who has a ton if insight and behind-the-scenes info to share.  Even if you typically skip commentaries that aren't by the filmmakers, I'd give this one a listen.  Speaking of commentaries by the filmmaker... we sort of kinda get one.  There's an audio interview with Roeg from 1994, followed by an audience Q&A, that they play over the film.  Unfortunately, he's mostly talking about his then-latest film Heart of Darkness and other general topics, rather than Track 29; so it's more of a general-interest track only for serious Roeg fans.  But hey, I'll take it!  And if you want more on Track 29, we get it in the form of some smart on-camera interviews with the editor, sound designer, costumer (this one's brief) and Colleen Camp.  There's also a photo gallery and a substantial, 36-page booklet, which includes notes by Danny Leigh, plus interviews with Potter and Russell and excerpts from critical reviews of the day.  Indicator's release also features a reversible cover with alternate artwork.
Schmoedipus, meanwhile, remains painfully unreleased, like so many of Potter's excellent teleplays.  I'm only able to include a screenshot of it because low quality rips, with that ugly time-code running over the whole thing, have been passed along on the internet for years; and I've made myself a DVD-R.  Potter's plays have been dribbling out slowly, mainly thanks to the BFI and Network these days, so one remains hopeful.  But there's so much great BBC drama in the vault, and the releases so sporadic, that it's hard to maintain optimism for any particular title, let alone Potter's entire body of work.

But then again, I wasn't terribly optimistic about getting Track 29 on blu, and yet here we are, with a sweet special edition.  So I guess, as Potter's shown us here, you never know who'll come knocking on your unsuspecting door next.