Monkey Business

twelveTwelve Monkeys, 1995, 129 mins, 4K UHD

Arrow seems to have run afoul of a faulty master provided by Universal for its new 4K UHD edition of Terry Gilliam’s wonderful, bizarre and disturbing Twelve Monkeys. It actually features on their Blu-ray edition from a few years back, which I didn’t buy because I was hoping to see a 4K edition sometime down the line (pity I didn’t adopt same practice with their Robocop release, but hey-ho). Its a glitch in the edit, somehow, in which about 15 seconds of video is repeated, while the audio track continues correctly. The weird thing is, very few seem to have noticed it on that Blu-ray; it occurs at a fortuitous ((if that’s the right word) moment during some disorientating camera moves and tight edits and can easily pass people by; I’m sure most viewers never twigged it- I’m not even sure I would have noticed it had I not been warned/enlightened.

Didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the film at all, and its rather curious noting on forums that many are refusing to unwrap their copies and are returning them or getting increasingly irate over a replacement disc. Essentially those people are right, there is something wrong with the release and purchasers have every right to expect a ‘proper’ copy without any faults or glitches at all. My old VHS copy got it right, after all, so shouldn’t a brand-spanking new top of the line 4K UHD disc be the same? Of course it should. But this film isn’t broken, and unless you’re really looking for it, it doesn’t pull anyone out of the movie. Indeed in an odd way, it seems rather fitting for a Gilliam film, a sort of meta-reference to the nightmarishly inept bureaucracy of Gilliam’s earlier masterpiece Brazil (now THERE’s a film I want to see on a 4K UHD SE release). Maybe Gilliam himself would appreciate the humour in it. The important thing is that the film looks gorgeous in 4K, its really quite lovely and of course the film is only more effective/more harrowing than ever in our post-Covid world.

But it set me thinking about the theatrical cut of Blade Runner in 1982, complete with dialogue continuity errors, visible continuity errors, scenes played with the wrong dialogue take so that lips weren’t moving when we ‘heard’ someone talking, sequences with cables clearly hauling up spinner vehicles into the air or sitting off-corner where we’re not supposed to see it yet. The film wasn’t accidentally mastered and released like that, it was literally made and finished like that. Now that’s a broken movie- even though I loved it all the same.

5 thoughts on “Monkey Business

  1. I bought and watched Arrow’s 1080p disc back whenever, and certainly didn’t notice any editing fault!

    As for the film itself (which I had seen before, but not for yonks), I liked it, but not enough that I’m tempted to upgrade to the 4K. Unlike Robocop and American Werewolf, where the extra definition and/or revised transfers seem to look appreciably better. But I haven’t even got round to watching my BD of Robocop, so to be upgrading it already feels ridiculous… but the 4K does look better… but… 😫😵

    1. Re: Twelve Monkeys its much ado about nothing. What I object to, mind, is how its advertised by Arrow as being a director-approved remaster/transfer and yet even he can’t be bothered to watch it long enough to spot such errors, that surely wouldn’t escape a films director. Which raises the question of how worthwhile such ‘director approval’ is anyway. I trust Cameron is giving The Abyss proper attention after all these years waiting for him to sign it off.

      Regards Robocop and American Werewolf, I’ve passed some kind of saturation barrier, because I’m not getting suckered into the 4K thing anymore when I’ve got a perfectly fine Blu-ray, especially when there’s few, if any, new extras. I reserve that nonsense for a 40th Anniversary 4K of Blade Runner obviously, but other than that, I’m being more cautious with my wallet than I used to. I figure if I can ‘save’ £25 on buying a new Robocop I can spend that on something new like The Proposition or a few noir titles.

      1. There’s definitely something to be said about deciding “enough is enough” about certain titles. I’m that way with Close Encounters: almost every time it comes up in a sale, I have a look at it on Caps-a-holic and decide the 4K isn’t that much better than the BD, so why bother? There’s no film I rewatch often enough to make the upgrade ‘necessary’, so it’s really a question of “am I going to regret it when I next watch the film?” It’s why I so rarely watch DVDs — whenever I do, I’m surprised how fine they are; but when I know there’s an HD/4K remaster available, it’s very hard to persuade myself to even start the DVD.

      2. I confess, I’m something of a snob re: DVDs, I just struggle to watch them, although to be fair, they weren’t designed with 55-inch OLED panels in mind. I despair at how they must look on something like a 65-inch panel or upwards.

      3. On a separate point, a few years ago Criterion ran an interesting article on what “director approved” really means. The gist, as I recall, is it’s kinda meaningless — it can represent anything from “we sent them a disc and they said they watched it” to them being thorough; actually coming in and going over the transfer properly for days, insisting on adjustments, etc. So, it’s a nice claim for marketing, but unless it’s backed up by details of what the director/cinematographer/etc actually did, it’s worthless.

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