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Following [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English LPCM 1.0 (48kHz/24-bit), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 70 Mins.
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: December 11, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Before crafting Memento, the Hollywood film that would put him on the map, Christopher Nolan made his feature-length debut with this low budget neo-noir thriller. Shot on a budget of an unheard of $6,000, with filming done over the weekends, like mini short film shoots, Following is an atmospheric character study that already bears the characteristics of Nolan’s fondness for hyper-realism, timelessness, and non-linear storytelling that would really bloom with films like Inception.  The film was shot on 16mm in glorious, stark black and white, using mainly natural lighting sources, some improvised scenes, and using only one or two takes. The story follows a wannabe writer, (Jeremy Theobald) who becomes so desperate for inspiration, he begins following strangers on the streets to gain stories for his writing. This leads him to Cobb (Alex Haw), who confronts him in a diner when he realizes he’s being followed. Little does “the young man” aka “Bill” know that Cobb really does have an interesting story of his own – he likes to burgle people’s houses. This takes Bill on a journey into voyeurism he never expected he would enjoy so much – but also sets him up for a major fall when he begins seeing and burglarizing a mysterious blonde beauty (Lucy Russell) with ties to a dangerous mobster.

Following is saturated with beauty and a natural movement reminiscent of the French New Wave. Truffaut, Godard — they are both alive in this film’s handheld camera movements and easy, intelligent dialogue. And so is Hitchcock, in the way Nolan makes use of such meager equipment to create such an involved world, dark, looming shadows, luminous light stretching across rooms.

The moral of this story, if there is one, may very well be that of a lost soul, or the souls of the lost in the bustle of modernity. The artist forever trapped in the lives of others, pilfering what he can in secret to create, to sculpt, to mold; being aroused by it, as Bill is in Following, slowly becoming more addicted to the act of burglary itself, and somehow abandoning his original intention of finding inspiration. He is literally lost in his work – or, more precisely, he has inserted himself into it, and opened himself up for whatever horrific consequences may come.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This new high definition transfer from Criterion Collection was overseen by Christopher Nolan. It was created in 4K resolution from the original 16mm camera negative on a Scanity film scanner at Cinelicious in Hollywood. It comes to Blu-ray in the original 1.33:1aspect ratio encoded in AVC/MPEG-4 at 1080p. The end result is a rich, textured, and filmic transfer with beautiful contrast and lots of wonderfully natural grain.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The original monaural soundtrack was remastered from a 16mm optical track for the LPCM 1.0 (48kHz/24-bit) track and the original mix masters were used to produce a new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) surround mix by rerecording mixer Garry Rizzo. Obviously, the 1.0 track is quite limited, but is the choice for purists. The 5.1 is much more effective at creating the noir-ish atmosphere of this film in general, adding in subtle, yet effective of amounts of ambience and good dynamics.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4.5/5]

The high definition featurettes, interviews, and inclusions of an alternated edit of Following plus Nolan’s college short Doodlebug, make this a fine supplementary package, even if the booklet is on the thin side.

The supplements:

  • Audio commentary featuring writer-director Christopher Nolan recorded in 2001
  • Christopher Nolan (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:26:21) – Interview with writer-director Christopher Nolan conducted by the Criterion Collection in Los Angeles in December 2010
  • The Linear Edit – This Version of Following places the film’s events in chronological order
  • Script to Film (1080p/24; 00:09:55) – Writer-director Christopher Nolan’s shooting script for Following is presented here alongside three scenes from the film, offering a look at how closely Nolan adhered to his original plans.
  • Doodlebug (1.33:1; 1080i/60; 00:02:56) – While attending University College London, writer-director Christopher Nolan made a series of short films – including Doodlebug (1997), presented here – and met many of the people with whom he would later make Following.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.33:1; 1080i/60; 00:01:20)
  • Rerelease Trailer (1.33:1; 108i/60; 00:01:30)
  • Booklet: Although it is an unusually thin one, this booklet, which contains the essay. “Nolan Begins” from Scott Foundas, associate program director for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is an interesting read nonetheless.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Following is a fantastic first feature, especially when one considers the limited resources with which it was created. If it had been afforded a Hollywood budget, it may have been even better than Memento. Criterion has done a terrific job bringing it to Blu-ray.

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
Following - Fullscreen B&W - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Following [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Following

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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BestBuy.com:
Following - Fullscreen B&W - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Following [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Following

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4.5/5]


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