DVD image comparison: Four Flies on Grey Velvet
I’ve put together an in-depth comparison between the various releases of Four Flies on Grey Velvet that I own: two VHS-sourced copies and the recent film-sourced release put out by Retrofilm.
I’ve decided to do things slightly differently for this comparison. Given that there is yet to be an authorised release of the film on DVD, several copies are floating around, with various bootleggers repackaging the same versions and putting them out under their own labels. As such, this is less a comparison between specific releases and more one between the various different “editions” that are floating about.
Until recently, it was generally accepted that there were three major versions doing the rounds:
1. A truncated English language version, presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This release is very dark and, during the climax, it becomes virtually impossible to see what is happening. I refer to this as the OAR English version.
2. A composite version, taken from a French print with English audio overlaid in most instances. This release is cropped to approximately 1.85:1 and is much brighter, but with the whites blown out. This version carries a Luminous Film & Video Works watermark during the opening credits, so I refer to this as the Luminous version.
3. An English language version cropped to 1.33:1. This verion supposedly features the best quality out of these three releases, but, as I haven’t seen it for myself, I can’t comment.
A fourth version, a Region 0 PAL DVD, surfaced in December 2007 from German label Retrofilm. The first release of the film to be taken from a film source rather than an nth generation video copy, there was initially some speculation that this was a legitimate release, but, although there have been arguments on both sides of the fence, it does at this point seem that Retrofilm’s copy is unauthorised. It is, however, quite clearly the best available version by some considerable margin, as you will be able to see from the screen captures here.