Arrow Academy have just brought us all a new blu-ray release of a Robert Altman film following on from their The Long Goodbye. This time they have selected 3 Women for the blu-ray treatment, the film which Roger Ebert placed above Star Wars as the best film of the year back in 1977. The film, starring Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek loosely tells the story of three connected women; two of whom own dead-end jobs, the other who is an artist. This dreamlike film mutates in ways that are entirely unexpected from the outset and which are perpetually fascinating.
Here’s our review of the blu-ray re-release:
For those who don’t know the film the surreal visuals and haunting audio is incredibly important to this film; the visuals often have been shot through water in order to lend that surreal atmosphere and the haunting and intimating score transforms domesticity scenes into something completely different. Which is why I’m so very pleased to be able to say that this 4K digital restoration is so very good. Every film needs to look its best on blu-ray and yet it’s so important here that the film captures both the intense colouring of the desert landscapes, whilst also maintaining their muted appearance, as well as the original print did. Nothing has been lost here, only subtly enhanced to increase the effects Altman strove for. It’s the same with the audio which sounds clear and well preserved, losing none of its original power.
The presentation of this blu-ray is very nice indeed. The box contains a reversible sleeve with one side featuring the original artwork and the other displaying newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh. The booklet itself goes above an beyond the norm with many striking images from the film alongside an informative essay by Little White Lies’ editor David Jenkins and extracts from ‘Altman on Altman’. The text and accompanying images prove to be a worthy accompaniment to the film itself, and offer up food for thought after you’ve just watched the film. Just make sure that you do read it after and not before watching due to some serious spoilers.
Also worth mentioning is the layout of the disc and its menu which is sleek and elegantly presented. It’s both very easy to navigate and also looks great with the revolving dreamy images in the background as taken from the film.
What the disc lacks in quantity of extras it makes up for in quality. There is an archive interview with Shelley Duvall at the Cannes Film Festival after she has just won the Best Actress award. This interview is short but it’s also informative as she sits amongst a field of press guys recounting how Altman first found her and shaped her into the actress she is now. She also gives us some insight into what it is like working with Altman and his methods which proves to be illuminating, although it doesn’t much shape our understanding of 3 Women in particular.
The most valuable extra here is the new video interview with critic and editor of ‘Altman on Altman’ David Thompson. The interview runs just shy of 40 minutes and touches on plenty of aspects of the film and Altman himself. It’s far and away the best special feature here as Thompson comes across as being extremely well researched as he talks about what led Altman to make the film, about Altman’s place within the studio system at the time and intermingles thoughts, observations and interpretations of 3 Women throughout which should really aid the viewer in thinking about the film they have just seen. Especially those who are experiencing 3 Women for the first time.
Apart from these two interviews we have a gallery and a trailer which are nice to have but don’t ultimately stack up to much. What lowers the rating here for me to 70% is that,despite the strength and depth of Thompson’s interview, it would have been good to have heard from other perspectives. Perhaps have had another critic do an interview or perhaps a commentary. It just is a slight shame with a film this interesting and complex not to have had a more comprehensive collection of extras. However top marks on everything they did put in.
This is an elegantly presented, beautifully refined blu-ray version of the Altman classic. The quality of the visuals and the audio is excellent and only serves to make the film that little bit more immersive and dreamlike. There are slightly fewer extras than we would like however what is here is excellent, and when combined with the text in the disc’s accompanying booklet it makes for an informative enough discussion to intrigue viewers and send them off to research further by themselves.
An excellent transfer which does nothing but enhance the original classic.
Arrow Academy release the Blu-Ray of Robert Altman’s 3 Women today (13th July 2015) and you can order it from Arrow themselves, from Amazon and every self-respecting retailer.