You may remember, when I wrote my review of the US Blu-ray Disc release of The Descent, that I mentioned that two completely different colour grades of the film appeared to have been created, with the US BD showing a completely different colour palette from my old 2-disc UK DVD. This wasn’t simply a case of the colours having been pushed slightly in the direction of, say, accentuating the reds or the blues, or the contrast having been tweaked: someone had to have gone in and altered the digital intermediate. (You can see a couple of examples of these differences if you visit my review, the second of which shows one of the most extreme instances of this discrepancy.) Personally, while I hold the US BD up as one of the best-looking high definition titles ever released, I’ve always been slightly disappointed that the darker, richer “UK grade” hadn’t made it to BD.
Until now, that is. Recently, Icon Home Entertainment released The Descent on BD in Australia. Discussing this new release at the AV Science Forum, poster kingkong650, having noticed differences in the colour palette when compared to the older US release, said:
Following on from what I mentioned in a previous post about the difference in colour I noticed between the US MPEG-2 version and the Australian version, I decided to investigate a little bit further, so I went looking for my UK DVD of The Descent, the version where I watched the film for the first time, to see what the colours were like on that version. Once I finally found it under piles of dvds stashed away, what I saw was pretty interesting.
The part where I’ve really noticed a big difference in colour is just after they arrive at the hole, when they’re preparing the ropes and harnesses to go down. The US MPEG-2 version has a strong blue tint while the Australian release’s colours are more natural looking and also seem a little brighter. When Juno goes down the hole and looks up, in the US version the light streaming through the hole looks white and the reflection on her face is tinted blue, while in the Australian version, the light streaming down is more golden and the reflected light on her face reflects that.
When I put the UK DVD in and jumped to the same bit in the film, the colours were very similar to the Australian version, with the light looking golden rather than white and no sign of the blue tint of the US release. It’s bizarre that they released different colour schemes for this film. Makes me wonder which one the director considers the definative version?
You can follow the discussion that ensued for yourselves, but the long and short of it is that we think the Australian BD has the same colour timing as the UK DVD. I’ve been trying to avoid double dipping of late (except when it comes to upgrading titles I own on DVD to BD), but my admiration for this film, and my preference for the “UK grade”, caused me to cave in and order myself a copy of the new edition from DVD Crave. A full comparison will be carried out once my copy arrives. Given that the US BD (well, the AVC version at any rate, rather than the inferior MPEG-2 re-release) is one of the best-looking titles out there, the Australian release will have its work cut out trying to match it, let alone beat it, but word of mouth so far seems very promising.
PS. In case anyone’s wondering, the Australian release has been confirmed to be region-free, just like the US version.