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Reds (40th Anniversary Edition) (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

American journalist John Reed (Warren Beatty) and his love interest, the writer and feminist Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton), become increasingly involved in the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia when Reed goes their to cover their overthrow of the Czar in this Oscar-winning (Best Director for Beatty, Best Supporting Actress for Maureen Stapleton) historical epic based on the true story of the author, Reed, who wrote '10 Days that Shook the World'.

The 1981 historical epic Reds from director/co-writer/actor Warren Beatty chronicles the life of journalist John Reed (played by Beatty) and his partner, feminist icon and writer Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton), during the time of the Russian Revolution.

Reed, who after returning from covering World War I, meets Louise Bryant, who is married at the time, but the two immediately hit is off, and the two go to Russia to cover the Bolshevik Revolution. When Reed returns to the United States, he is now more radicalized and involved in the American Communist Party, trying to align the growing workers movements with the Russian Communist Revolution. He eventually returns to Russia to get the blessing of the Russians for his communist party, but gets stuck there, with the revolution not going quite as he had foreseen and his health failing.

This was a very different time in U.S. history, long before the Cold War or the Red Scare, when there were large numbers of people willing to entertainment communism, as laid out by Karl Marx, as an alternative to what was seen as an increasingly oppressive capitalist government. This is not to be confused with the communism as perverted by Lenin and Stalin into a right-wing authoritarianism. Looking back at this time is an interesting case study and Beatty’s film does a superb job of doing such a thing, punctuating his drama with documentary testimony by “witnesses” who were activists and friends of Reed and Bryant from the time.

Making the film epic in its scope, beyond its 195 minutes run time, is the brilliant cinematography from Vittorio Storaro and gorgeous production design, art direction, and costume design of Richard Sylbert, Simon Holland, and Shirley Russell respectively.

Beatty would win the Oscar for Best Director and take the trophy in that category at all the major awards that season. Maureen Stapleton won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

The Video

Reds was restored under Beatty’s supervision. Newly restored and remastered from the original negative 4K with High Dynamic Range (HDR) using a vintage print from the Paramount archives as a reference, which was approved by the Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. Presumably Reds will be released digitally in 4K with HDR or eventually be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. For now, we have this fantastic Blu-ray edition encoded in AVC 1080p and framed at 1.85:1. The film has never looked so good on home video. The previous Blu-ray release from early in the format’s history cannot compare to the crispness and dimensionality of the picture here. There is plenty of texture in the clothing and much front-to-back extension. Colors can be very vibrant, such as the red armbands and flags of the revolutionaries that ‘pop’ with great vibrancy, but there are also rich mid and earth tones. Shadows can provide some inky blacks, but they never collapse into a stygian, amorphous mass. In fact, the darker scenes because of the nuance and lighting of the cinematography often provide the most three-dimensional look. The film grain looks natural, sharp, and consistent throughout the film even while dirt, scratches, and other source issues are not a problem.

The Audio

Reds comes with the restored audio in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. The TrueHD 5.1 audio mix has good dynamics with clean dialogue and lots of atmospherics. This works very well in the scenes during the attack on the train or the communist party meetings where the crowd noises fill the surround channels.

The Supplements

The bonus features are supplied on a separate Blu-ray Disc and include an archival making of documentary and a trailer. There is also a Digital Copy code included.

Bonus Disc:

  • Witness to Reds (SD; 01:07:32):
    • The Rising
    • Comrades
    • Testimonials
    • The March
    • Revolution, Part 1
    • Revolution, Part 2
    • Propaganda
  • Reds Trailer (1080p)

The Final Assessment

An epic historical drama with superb cinematography and a top cast of performers all on top of their game, Reds gets a masterful restoration and remaster on Blu-ray from Paramount that deserves a place alongside other Hollywood epics on every cinephile’s shelf.

Reds (40th Anniversary Edition) is out Blu-ray+Digital November 30, 2021 from Paramount


  • Rating Certificate: PG
  • Studios & Distgributors: Barclays Mercantile Industrial Finance | JRS Productions | Paramount Home Entertainment
  • Director: Warren Beatty
  • Written By: Warren Beatty | Trevor Griffiths
  • Run Time: 195 Mins.
  • Street Date: 30 November 2021
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Primary Audio: English Restored Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English Restored DD 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English | English SDH
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American journalist John Reed (Warren Beatty) and his love interest, the writer and feminist Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton), become increasingly involved in the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia when Reed goes their to cover their overthrow of the Czar in this Oscar-winning (Best Director for Beatty, Best Supporting Actress for Maureen Stapleton) historical epic based on the true story of the author, Reed, who wrote '10 Days that Shook the World'.Reds (40th Anniversary Edition) (Blu-ray Review)
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