Cineastes Bicker Over Virtues, Drawbacks Of Darker, Grainier New Casablanca Blu-ray

Since the dawn of home video, movie lovers have debated the implications of screwing with old movie prints to make them look better. The advent of Blu-ray has drawn a line between traditionalists who adore the rough-hewn, old-school look of grainy images and those who prefer technicians to buff out the grain in favor of sharper, smoother visuals. The latest battlefront in the debate pits the new dark-toned, supposedly more true-to-the-original Casablanca Blu-ray release, which follows a brighter, cleaner-looking 2008 edition.

Hollywood Elsewhere hosts a throwdown about which version is better. The conversation is filled with technical terms that go over my head, but both sides claim valid points.

Here’s a pro-2012 version snippet:

“What I see when I look at the new disc is hardly ‘billions of micro-mosquitoes’, digital or otherwise. What I see is a less bright but more detailed picture with an uptick in structured grain, which is very different from some kind of screen of undulating black pixels.”

And here’s a passionate defense of the 2008 edition:

“I understand and have no problem with integrated grain — I want films to look like film. But in the matter of the ’08 Casablanca release vs. the present one, there isn’t a moment’s hesitation in saying that the ’08 version is highly pleasurable and the new version is not. The 70th anniversary grain is not enjoyable to me. To me it’s an obstruction standing between my eyes and the glory of the film’s visuals. On top of which it’s ****ing darker, which I hate.”

It all comes down to personal preference. The one good thing about greedy studios releasing and re-releasing classics on Blu-ray is that it gives movie fans a choice to vote with their wallets for their favorite restoration technique.

Casablanca Blu-ray Face-Off [Hollywood Elsewhere]