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Christmas comes early


My brother received Disney’s recent Blu-ray release of Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas today. This is a film that Disney initially got cold feet over releasing and so put it out under the Touchstone Pictures banner instead, only to reclaim it years later (quite probably after they realised what a money-maker it was).

Anyway, the disc has been the recipient of some extremely positive reviews. I’m sorry to report, however, that it is yet another DVNR victim. That’s not to say that it’s an awful transfer by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s extremely inconsistent. Some shots are Dark City bad, but others are as good as, say, Corpse Bride, with most shots lying somewhere in between the two. Grain-sucking has been applied, but not consistently, so some shots retain their original grain, but the majority don’t. For the most part, the grain reduction is not massively destructive, but some shots look extremely waxy, with the optical effects shots (basically everything with Zero, fire, glowing lights, etc.) looking particularly bad. Overall this could have been a lot worse, but don’t believe the people who are claiming that this film is unmolested.

Overall, it’s a definite upgrade over the DVD releases (and that includes the very good anamorphic 1.66:1 release from Scandinavia, which trounced every other version), but, as is often the case, it’s frustrating to think how much better it could have been. The massive irony is that, had this been a modern film made within the last couple of years, the technicians would probably have assumed that it didn’t need any sort of digital “restoration” applied to it and, as a result, it would therefore have ended up looking far grainier.

Oh, and, in a further instance of tampering, the Touchstone Pictures logo at the start of the film has been replaced with a Walt Disney one. I’m not happy about that. It may not sound like the end of the world, but it’s yet another example of the creeping revisionism that studios feel they can get away with inflicting on their movies. From there, it’s a slippery slope towards modifications of the George Lucas variety.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
(Buena Vista, USA, AVC, 21.7 GB)

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Update, September 2nd, 2008 10:19 AM: While watching the film last night, we both spotted a number of instances of the DVNR eroding picture elements such as characters’ limbs. A comparison with the Scandinavian DVD revealed that this problem is new to the Blu-ray release (and probably also the concurrent standard definition re-release). An example can be seen at Lyris Lite. At least four instances were spotted in the course of a single play-through.

Posted: Monday, September 01, 2008 at 5:46 PM | Comments: 6
Categories: Animation | BD Impressions | Blu-ray | Cinema | Technology



Most of those shots are quite nice with gorgeous colors but upon closer inspection you can tell the textures have been screwed with. Very Dark City like. The 8th shot is probably one of the worst HD captures I've ever seen. Looks like a totally different transfer.

Posted by: Kram Sacul, September 2, 2008 7:43 AM


re: the replacement of the Touchstone Pctures logo with the modern cgi Disney logo

Not only did they change that but the opening title is not the original. The original was stationary and done on film, the new one is cg and pushes in. Not a huge difference but still unnecessary. I'll have to see if the opening part of the music score was cut off.

Posted by: Kram Sacul, September 2, 2008 9:03 AM


Right you are about the titles. However, they haven’t removed any of the music. The “Walt Disney Pictures Presents” text simply appears where the old Touchstone Pictures logo would have been.

Posted by: Whiggles, September 2, 2008 9:21 AM


The first shot looks reasonably detailed, am I seeing that wrong? Or have you included both good and bad screencaps? I do agree on the 8th shot being horrendously smeared and yuck.

Such a shame! I will be getting this one for sure since I gave my DVD to younger family members years ago. I was really hoping this was going to be perfect though...

Posted by: Luke, September 2, 2008 10:20 AM


I tried to include as wide a range as possible. The look of the transfer really does change on a shot by shot basis, so while, for example, Shot 1 looks pretty nice, others are less impressive. Even ones like Shot 7, which show a nice amount of detail, have a waxy, eroded look. Admittedly, this is one of those titles that does look a bit better in motion, but it’s still a disappointment.

Posted by: Whiggles, September 2, 2008 10:23 AM


I still enjoyed how this looked overall.

But there's nothing wrong with being objective.

Posted by: Lyris, September 2, 2008 7:04 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:


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