From acclaimed director Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, Wonderland) and writer Hossein Amini (The Wings of the Dove, Drive) comes this bold and sweeping adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. Jude Fawley (an extraordinary Christopher Eccleston, Shallow Grave, TV’s Doctor Who) is a stonemason with a passion for learning. After a brief but unhappy marriage to the daughter of a local pig farmer, he moves to Christminster to be closer to his beloved scholars. There, he meets and falls totally in love with his cousin Sue Bridehead (a dazzling Kate Winslet, Sense and Sensibility, Titanic), a thoroughly modern young woman, whose wit and beauty captivate him. When they join in an illicit union that flouts society’s conventions, fate takes a tragic turn. Featuring Liam Cunningham (TV’s Game of Thrones) and Rachel Griffiths (Muriel’s Wedding), Jude is a mesmerizing romantic drama that explores themes of class, education, religion, marriage and morality in Victorian England.
For thoughts on Jude, please check out our discussion on The Video Attic:
Jude comes to Blu-Ray from Kino Classics and Scorpion Releasing with a digital AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1 that appears to be derived from an older master that is in great shape. The presentation is very pleasing throughout most of the runtime with image stability and delineation being top notch. Small instances of print damage occasionally pop up briefly, but overall clarity and detail is excellent. Skin tones are natural with subtle facial features easily noticeable in closeup. Black levels are pretty solid with very little in the way of crush. This transfer maintains the natural film grain of the presentation with only minor instances of it seeming a bit dense. The picture can run slightly soft in long shots, but colors are well saturated in a visually pleasing way. This presentation is excellent even without a fresh master. It is wonderful to finally have this film available in high definition.
This new Blu-Ray comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix that captures the subtle aesthetic of the film well. The track avoids nearly all instances of age related wear and tear or distortion. The moving score from Adrian Johnston maintains a pleasing fidelity as it fills the room. The dialogue is strong, coming through clearly without being stepped on by the music or sound effects. The environmental effects are delineated nicely from the chatter of the bar patrons to the sounds of nature. The surround channels are not supremely active, but they give the world a decent texture. This is a track that represents the film in a practically perfect manner. Optional English subtitles are provided on this disc.
- Audio Commentary: Film Historian/Filmmaker Daniel Kremer and Film Critic Scout Tafoya provide a really easy, interesting commentary track which proves deeply informative as they discuss the work of Thomas Hardy, the film as a critical juncture for Michael Winterbottom, the thematic issues of the narrative, the backgrounds of the performers, the context of the feature and more.
- Trailers: The two-minute trailer for Jude is provided here. There are also trailers provided for Slow Dancing In The Big City, De Sade, Privilege and Counterpoint.
Jude is a surprisingly stirring story that is able to shake off the occasional stuffiness of most period pieces and provide characters who you truly care about. The narrative can take some incredibly bleak turns, but such is the tragedy of life at times. Christopher Eccleston delivers a very strong lead performance, yet it is Kate Winslet who completely steals the show with her effortless charm and wit. Kino Classics and Scorpion Releasing have released a new Blu-Ray featuring a pretty solid A/V presentation and an informative commentary track. Even if you are not typically a fan of costume dramas, this one stands out as something a bit special. Recommended
Jude is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Kino Classics and Scorpion Releasing have supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.