This is a follow-up to my previous post on the Blu-ray release of Run Lola Run, Dear Universal, this is what a catalogue release SHOULD look like.
In the comments section to that post, I was contacted by a regular reader who called into question the Blu-ray transfer and its authenticity as regards Tom Tykwer’s intentions, due to comments made by his friend, a hardcore fan of the film, who reacted in horror, upon seeing my screen captures:
At first glance, I always thought the colours looked messed up on those pics (based on my memory of the film). Lola looked green/yellow-ish on lola4.jpg, and Manni looked purple on lola7.jpg. I compared them to the DVD. And I can now say the colours are totally messed up on the BD. There is also framing issues. As the BD looks cropped on the left/right sides. I’ve seen this movie probably well over a hundred times, and based on these pics, the BD presentations is WAY to much on the green side. I’ve attached pics that showcase all these problems.
My regular reader also sent me a few more of his friend’s thoughts on the transfer (among other issues) via email, and, with his permission, I thought it would be worthwhile to post some of the material that pertains specifically to the matter at hand.
Regarding his familiarity with the film (lest he be accused of basing his opinion on how it should look solely on the previous DVD release):
Well, I’ve seen the film theatrically, but it wasn’t the best presentation. As it was one of those tiny garbage arthouse theatres, with a screen smaller than todays Plasmas and no better than stereo sound.
But I never remember the film looking that green. And, 10 years ago, I had near photographic memory.
The reason I’m taking the time to post all this is to provide an alternate viewpoint on the issue of the film’s transfer. I don’t feel qualified to make a case for the transfer being right or wrong - clearly, my reader’s friend has a familiarity with the film which I do not possess (I consider it a favourite of mine, but at the same time I must point out that I have only seen two versions of it: the Region 2 UK DVD and the Blu-ray release), and on that basis alone (not to mention his obvious technical knowledge, when discussing such issues as VC-1 compression and digital intermediates in his email), I am inclined to trust his viewpoint.
But it’s not my place to say whether the Run Lola Run Blu-ray release looks “correct” or not. I suspect that, as is always going to be the case with a medium like film, especially when we are in the realm of lab printing, which does not provide the accuracy of digital colour timing (where you can create a single master with a locked down colour palette), every source is going to look somewhat different from the others, meaning that it is virtually impossible to identify a single correct look. Looking at the comparison shots linked to above, it should be clear to all that there are obvious differences between the DVD and Blu-ray releases in terms of colour palette, but that’s the one thing I can say for sure.
What I can’t say with any degree of certainty is whether one is more accurate than the other. Yes, you could argue that the Blu-ray release looks a bit too yellow in terms of flesh tones, but someone else might just as easily turn round and say that the DVD looked a bit too magenta. In any event, I’m always somewhat wary of using flesh tones as an indicator of the accuracy of a transfer’s colour palette. Lighting conditions, film stock and all manner of other variables can all affect the look, and that’s before you get into the issue of artistic intent. Who’s to say Tykwer was going for natural flesh tones anyway? One can hardly consider this to be a film with a naturalistic style.
As is always the case with issues like this, the one person who can truly clear up the issue is Tom Tykwer. Did he supervise the original DVD or the Blu-ray release? Did he supervise both or neither? How does he feel about the new look? I don’t know, and, therefore, the only advice I can really give on this matter is to use your own judgement based on the evidence at your disposal. The bottom line is that I’m very happy with the look of the Blu-ray release, although I readily admit that it could be the wrong look. Caveat emptor, and all that.