- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.o Stereo
- Rating: R
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Criterion Collection
- Blu-ray Release Date: January 25th, 2011
- List Price: $39.95
[Rating:4/5] The Film
[Rating:5/5] Supplemental Materials
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
They don’t make them like this anymore. Writer/director James L. Brooks’ 1987 romantic comedy Broadcast News goes beyond its genre and crafts a character study that manages to capture the social mores of an era whilst anticipating the trend towards the future.
Set against the backdrop of a network newsroom, Broadcast News follows a love triangle featuring Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) a feisty network news producer who is exceptionally intelligent, but with a moribund social life, newcomer Tom Grunnick (William Hurt) a pretty boy anchor with the talent for reading the news, but no substance to back it up, and Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), a high IQ reporter who can write and report the news, but doesn’t have the knack for anchoring.
Jane begins to fall for Tom, but he is the antithesis of everything she stands for. He is complete style over substance and she’s all about keeping the lines between hard news and entertainment clear. Meanwhile Aaron is carrying a torch for Jane and has only just begun to strike up the nerve to voice his feelings of unrequited love. With the network preparing to make big changes, Jane must choose whether to be impulsive for the first time in her life and pursue the golden boy Tom or stay true to her values and follow through with the feelings she has for Aaron.
Broadcast News is not only successful at sculpting true-to-life characters driven by their careers more than their social lives, but it faithfully captures the post-feminist 1980’s working woman in its character Jane in a manner that is not condescending and doesn’t pander. This is a woman trapped in the rat race just like the men and struggling to reconcile her professional life with a failing social one. This isn’t the professional Wonder Woman of other 80’s films, perpetually driven, happy, and somehow worry free. What Brooks also managed to anticipate in Broadcast News was the end of network news as it once was and the beginning of the tabloid journalism that has taken over our culture. These things make Broadcast News not just one of the better romantic comedies of its era and of all time, but a perfect time capsule of a bygone era in journalism and broadcasting.
The high definition transfer of Broadcast News was supervised and approved by director James L.Brooks and editor Richard Marks. This new transfer was created on a DFT SCANITY Film Scanner at 4K resolution from the original 35mm camera negative and color corrected on a Baselight Eight in 2K resolution.Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS system and Pixel Farm’s PFClean system.
The film appears on this Blu-ray release from The Criterion Collection in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio in a 1080p/24 AVC/MPEG-4 encoding. It’s a grainy film and much of that has been retained, but unlike a lot of films from the 1980’s brought to Blu-ray, the image doesn’t look soft or overwhelmed by the grain. There’s a lot of high frequency information retained imparting strong levels of texture and detail to the image. Flesh tones are natural, blacks are deep without crushing, and the overall presentation is pleasingly film-like.
The 2.0 soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original Dolby A magnetic tracks. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube’s integrated workstation.
The soundtrack is provided on this release as a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless encoding. The mix is a strong one, proving that one needn’t have a surround mix to have a mix that is engaging and entertaining. It provides clean dialogue, good left/right separation and panning and lots of audible atmospherics that help to liven up the sound.
The supplements are typically strong and relevant in the true nature of any Criterion Collection release. The audio commentary from the director and editor is an interesting listen and fans of the film who have longed for a more satisfying ending might find some solace in the alternate ending also provided here.
- Commentary by writer-director-producer James L. Brooks and film editor Richard Marks recorded for the Criterion Collection in 2010.
- James L. Brooks – A Singular Voice (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:36.06) – This documentary, made in 2010, traces the career of pioneering writer, director, and producer James L. Brooks through the recollections of his collaborators.
- Alternate Ending and Deleted Scenes (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:10.04)
- Susan Zirinsky (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:17.02) – 48 Hours producer and veteran CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky was one of the models for the Jane Craig character in Broadcast News; she also served as an adviser and associate producer on the film. This interview with her was recorded in 2010.
- Featurette (1.33:1; 1080i/60; 0:07.56) –This featurette, produced by Twentieth Century Fox, includes footage from the set of Broadcast News as well as interviews with James L. Brooks and actors Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter. Also presented here are additional interview clips and on-set footage.
- Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
- Booklet: Illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film critic Carrie Rickey, film credits, and information on the transfer.
The Definitive Word
Hollywood just doesn’t seem to be able to make romantic comedies worth watching anymore; real films that are worthy of multiple viewings and an honored position on a cineaste’s shelf. Broadcast News is one of those films and this Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of it is the reference quality version you will want to get.
Additional Screen Captures:
[Rating:4/5] The Film
[Rating:5/5] Supplemental Materials