The Director Doesn’t Always Know Best

From 1979, this afternoon’s movie. I’ve owned this on laserdisc and twice on DVD.

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The movie was shot in color (much to its director dismay, since he wanted to shoot the film in black and white) and released to theaters in color.

color dracula4

It was shown on cable and broadcast TV in color. Early VHS releases were in color. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that version, but I recall that the cinematography was wonderfully vibrant; ‘black and white’ sets and costume design, but the actors’ faces were in full color. A really nice contrast.

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Then the director, John Badham, tinkered with the color when the film was released on laserdisc in the early Nineties, dialing it down a bit. Not quite as pleasing to the eye.

By the time the DVD was released in 2004, Badham had gone back and desaturated the color further, even going to the trouble of color-correcting it.

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As it’s now available on Blu-ray, offering the same transfer that appeared on the previous DVD, the desaturated picture often has a sickly, dull greenish hue to it. A hideous, unflattering aesthetic, at least to my eyes.

JB Dracula comparison Final

I’d love to see a Blu-ray release that offers both a color version and a director-approved version, but I won’t hold my breath.

color dracula

Otherwise, I really enjoy this movie. The script, the cast, the John Williams score, the locations, the set designs, etc, are all excellent. But I firmly believe the film’s impact has been unnecessarily diminished by its revisionist lack of color.

JB's Desaturated DraculaWM