Digital Bits editor Bill Hunt has posted “pixel camera” captures of the forthcoming 4K Bluray of 2001: A Space Odyssey (WHE, 11.20). Bill’s Facebook reaction: “Yep…it’s gorgeous. And properly color-graded. No Nolan ‘unrestored’ nonsense. Trust me, the film looks exactly as it should in HDR.”
I’m sure it’s fine, but I’m fascinated by two camera images of how the Dave Bowman-walking-through-the-Discovery-passageway shot looks on the WHE disc. They’re really quite weird because they don’t resemble the color scheme of the 2007 Bluray version or the Chris Nolan piss-yellow version.
Instead this scene appears to have a very faint rosey-orange tint. On top of which the color of Bowman’s red space suit almost looks like a kind of deep arterial crimson. I realize that the shots in question [see below] may be distorting the actual visual values of the 4K disc, but I’m still going “wait…WHAT?”
The Bill Hunt Facebook shot is on top, the 2007 Bluray version is second, the Chris Nolan piss-yellow version is third and an alternate capturing of the beige-rose 4K version is fourth:
I’m not saying that these just-received photos convey the general color scheme of the 4K disc, but they’re fairly mind-blowing in the sense that after watching 2001 in theatres at least 14 or 15 times over the last half-century, I’ve never once seen a print with a faint rosey-orange tint in the passageway scene. Not once, not ever.
Hunt warns in his Facebook post that “these pictures are cellphone camera photos of a projection screen — NOT FRAME GRABS. They’re not 100% accurate. They’re posted here for impressionistic value only…not for screenshot science.” Still, the rosey beige thing is quite strange.
It’s almost as if somebody at WHE said to themselves, “We don’t want to deliver the too-neutral visual values of the 2007 Bluray and we definitely don’t want to deliver the Chris Nolan piss-yellow-and-teal aesthetic because Hollywood Elsewhere and the Home Theatre Forum guys will scream bloody murder so let’s come up with a third version…let’s tint the passageway scene with a gentle beige rose with just a hint of orange.”
“Seeing 2001 on 70mm is always an incredible experience, but the Nolan print was significantly more desaturated and yellow in appearance, and while the imperfections were a nice curiosity, to maintain them seemed unnecessary, as the original presentation [didn’t deliver this element] in 1968.
“The IMAX Experience version did not reflect the 70mm Nolan experience. Clearly a digital restoration without tears or dust, the palette was much cooler, closer to the restored DVD and Bluray versions we’ve had over the past decade or so, which were rumored to have been approved by Kubrick before his death in 1999. There was still a slight yellow tinge to the image, but in a manner that felt more organic and less the result of ageing. Having seen the two, I thought the IMAX presentation the much stronger, the image often far more breathtaking and detail far greater.
“So what version is on the 4K? Thankfully, this 2160p 2.20:1 presentation looks much closer to the IMAX presentation than the Nolan 70mm print, and consequently, the results are absolutely stunning.
“The image presents a level of detail we’ve probably never seen from this film, most notable in many of the close-ups, and there’s also a more noticeable depth of field in the image as well. The film certainly looks its age, but in the best way possible, with a subtle yet noticeable grain field which maintains the vital organic feel to the image. Perhaps best of all, the HDR allows a much richer color palette, not just in obvious places like the Stargate sequence, but when in the quality of the whites and blacks in the film. The disc is also listed as featuring Dolby Vision.”