Home Page  
 
 

SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary by Nolan
  • New interview with Nolan
  • Chronological rendering of the story
  • Side-by-side comparison of three scenes in the film with the shooting script
  • Doodlebug (1997), a three-minute film by Nolan, starring Jeremy Theobald
  • Trailers

Following

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell, John Nolan
1999 | 70 Minutes | Licensor: IFC Films

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #638
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: December 11, 2012
Review Date: December 9, 2012

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

Share:

SYNOPSIS

Before he became a sensation with the twisty revenge story Memento, Christopher Nolan fashioned this low-budget, black-and-white, 16 mm neonoir with comparable precision and cunning. Supplying irrefutable evidence of Nolan's directorial bravura, Following is the fragmented tale of an unemployed young writer who trails strangers through London, hoping that they will provide inspiration for his first novel. He gets more than he bargained for with one of his unwitting subjects, who leads him down a dark, criminal path. With gritty aesthetics and a made-on-the-fly vibe (many shots were simply stolen on the streets, unbeknownst to passersby), Following is a mind-bending psychological journey that shows the remarkable beginnings of one of today's most acclaimed filmmakers.

Forum members rate this film 8.5/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Christopher Nolanís Following makes its debut on Blu-ray through Criterion, who present the film with a brand new 1080p/24hz high-definition digital transfer in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on a dual-layer disc.

This may be the best transfer Iíve yet seen for a film shot on 16mm. Supervised by Nolan, the transfer on here comes from a 4k scan of the original 16mm elements. Upon reading that I must admit, at first, I thought that may have been overkill for a 16mm film but itís obvious that the extra resolution (despite the fact it would ultimately be downscaled for Blu-ray) paid off in spades. This is easily the sharpest, most highly detailed presentation of a 16mm film Iíve yet seen. The image is consistently sharp, never faltering in this area, and the finer details on clothing and the faces of the actors coming out clearly. Contrast is spot-on, with rich black levels, strong whites, distinct gray levels, and great shadow delineation allowing the details to come through even during some of the filmís darker moments. Film grain is left intact and moves naturally and even though it can get a bit heavy, which isnít too much of a surprise, itís not distracting and never looks pixilated or noisy.

The print is also in excellent condition. There were some slight vertical scratches in a couple of sequences, and youíll probably notice a hair in the corner of a frame on a few occasions, more than likely picked up during filming, but these slight imperfections are so easy to overlook considering the transfer itself is such a stunner. Iíd even say I was more impressed with this transfer than I was with the transfers Warner Bros. did on Nolanís Batman films. A lot of hard work was put into this, maybe explaining the delay in this release, and the end result is all the more marvelous because of it.

10/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

AUDIO

The film comes with the original mono track but the default track is a new lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track. Itís an effective track and nicely mixed, creating great mood in atmosphere. It works because itís essentially still a mono track at heart, with dialogue and most effects sticking to the center channel, but then spreading the filmís score beautifully to the rest of the speakers, filling in the environment nicely but never drowning out any of the dialogue, as other remixes seem to have a tendency to do. Bass is low key but effective as well. Overall itís beautifully done and the overall quality is excellent, with strong fidelity and perfect volume levels.

The original mono track is presented in linear PCM 1.0 mono and also sounds pretty good. Unsurprisingly thereís some of wonderful depth found in the 5.1 track that is missing here, so it does sound a bit flat, but the track is clean, free of distortion, and just generally pleasant to listen to.

Since audio quality really isnít an issue between the two tracks it will come down to personal preference. But despite my desire to stick with the original tracks in most cases I must admit I thought the surround track was beautifully done and I doubt many will be disappointed with it.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

If there is one slightly disappointing aspect to this release itís the supplements, though it has more to do with the fact the supplements are mostly being recycled from the previous Sony DVD (more-or-less,) starting with the audio commentary recorded by Christopher Nolan for the 2001 DVD edition. Comparing it to the newer interview found on this release Iím glad to say Nolan has become a far more engaging speaker since he recorded this track. Here he can come off a little too laid back and can drone on on occasion. Saying that, though, Nolan still covers the many challenges of making this film, which had an incredibly small budget, almost non-existent, and he covers a lot of the ways he got around the more expensive sides of filmmaking. During many scenes he explains how he was able to get the look he wanted, or how he was able to film in a certain location, lacking the resources to properly set it up. He talks about the script and why he set up the non-linear narrative the way he did, playing with how people connect events in their head, how people relate objects to events. Getting past his quiet nature in the commentary he does offer up a lot of information about the turmoil involved in making a low-budget feature, and it is fascinating how he was able to do what he did. The only drawback is that since the commentary is so old Nolan doesnít talk about how this film possibly played into his work since, specifically his big budget features in Hollywood. Thankfully Criterion included a new feature to somewhat close that gap.

That feature is a new interview with Christopher Nolan, filmed in 2010 by Criterion, and it does work as a sort of addendum to the commentary. Nolan talks again about the film more as a learning experience and gets into the technical details of it, from film stocks, to camera placement and coverage, and then how to get around the fact the sound would probably come off cheap and could possibly work around it. Itís this kind of stuff that proves fascinating in both the interview and the commentary. In the case of the sound he states he only had to make it sound good enough during the opening to pull in the audience, knowing after that the audience would hopefully be hooked enough not to care about the sound during the rest of the film. He notes some of the other tricks he employed to make it less obvious to audiences how cheap the film was, the most surprising of which was the use of props: he purposely avoided guns because cheap replicas just never look right on screen, sticking instead to hammers and other objects for weapons. He also mentions how heís employed everything heís learned from this film into big budget films like The Dark Knight, even some of his cheap tricks, and how it has served him when working with a much bigger crew on those bigger films. Some of the technical material is mentioned in the commentary but itís a wonderfully engaging and informative interview. It runs about 26-minutes.

The linear edit presents the film in chronological order, and was also available on the previous DVD. The film actually starts in the police station like the main edit with the main character talking to the police. The first 19-minutes or so are exactly the same, but after the initial set up the rest of the film is told in order as a flashback. Nolan apparently created it to show people that he didnít edit the film the way he did to hide anything, and that it would work in order as well. I think heís right, in that the film does still work. But it has a few drawbacks, specifically the film then loses how certain objects connect certain events in the film, and also the film reveals a plot point (even if it is obvious) too soon. The original, non-chronological edit adds more of an air of mystery that amps up the film a little bit. Interestingly it looks like this edit was made up using material from the same transfer used for the main feature so the picture quality is the same but it only comes with the mono track, not the 5.1 track.

Script-to-film presents somewhat of a downgrade in comparison to a similar feature found on the Sony DVD. The Sony DVD featured an alternate angle with the main feature that displayed the script. Here Criterion simply presents script comparisons for three scenes: The First Break In, The Abandoned Offices, and the Finale. Each part features the finished scene on the right side of the screen and the pages of the script for that scene on the left. The First Break In presents a simple comparison, allowing you to read the script as the scene plays. The scene plays out pretty close to what is written, a bit of dialogue changed here and there. The Abandoned Offices shows how the script was modified during the shoot. Originally the scene was to play out a train station but it was changed to its current setting. Here you can see the original script then the notes Nolan wrote in over it. Finale simply shows dialogue that was cut out. I guess itís not as cool as the previous DVDís similar feature, but this feature at least focuses more on the process of developing the script. In total the feature runs just under 10-minutes.

Nolan made a number of short films while in University and his 3-minute Doodlebug is included here. Itís actually a rather impressive little feature, about a man trying to get rid of a small nuisance, with some decent effects despite what I would assume would be a near non-existent budget. Itís presented in 1080i and looks to be upscaled from standard-defintion.

The disc then closes with two theatrical trailers and the included insert provides a short essay by Scott Foundas, who goes over the film and Nolanís work since then, all of which share similar themes.

It would have been nice if Nolan could have provided a new commentary but the interview does at least somewhat make up for it. Overall supplements do feel a little slim but everything is worth going through.

7/10

CLOSING

The supplements are fine but donít offer much of an incentive on their own to upgrade from the Sony DVD. What is definitely worth the upgrade, or picking up for the first time, is the high-definition transfer, which looks absolutely wonderful and is easily the most impressive transfer Iíve seen from a 16mm film.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

Share: 



Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca  




Join our Facebook Group (requires Facebook account)

This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection