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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Following [Blu-ray]

 

(Christopher Nolan, 1999)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Next Wave Films

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #638

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:10:10.247

Disc Size: 49,819,189,938 bytes

Feature Size: 22,832,394,240 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.02 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 11th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3607 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3607 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Audio commentary by Nolan (2001)
New interview with Nolan (26:21)
Chronological edit of the film (1:10:10) - The film events in chronological order
Side-by-side comparison of the shooting script with three scenes from the film (9:55)
Doodlebug (1997), a three-minute film by Nolan when attending University College - London, starring Following’s Jeremy Theobald (2:56)
Trailers (Theatrical - 1:20, Re-Release - 1:30)
PLUS: An essay by film critic and programmer Scott Foundas

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Before he became a sensation with the twisty revenge story Memento, Christopher Nolan fashioned this low-budget, 16 mm black-and-white neonoir with comparable precision and cunning. Providing irrefutable evidence of Nolan’s directorial bravura, Following is the fragmented tale of an unemployed young writer who trails strangers through London, hoping that they will provide inspiration for his first novel. He gets more than he bargained for when one of his unwitting subjects leads him down a dark criminal path. With gritty aesthetics and a made-on-the-fly vibe (many shots were simply stolen on the streets, unbeknownst to passersby), Following is a mind- bending psychological journey that shows the remarkable beginnings of one of today’s most acclaimed filmmakers.

 

 

The Film:

Christopher Nolan made his feature directorial debut with this 16mm black-and-white British suspense drama, shot on weekends with a $6,000 budget. Wannabe writer Bill, aka "The Young Man" (Jeremy Theobald), is "between jobs," living in impoverished circumstances with no prospects, plots, or outlines. Desperate for ideas, he begins following people in the street to "gather material," more accurately described as a venture into voyeurism. When Cobb (Alex Haw) realizes he's being followed, he confronts Bill. Cobb explains that he goes one step further -- entering people's apartments not only for theft but also to spy on private possessions. The notion of illegal intrusions excites Bill, but graduating to the next plateau beyond break-ins sets him up as a fall guy. Shown at the 1998 San Francisco Film Festival.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Shot at weekends on a shoestring, Nolan's 16mm b/w feature is more Shallow Grave than Shane Meadows. Blocked writer Bill (Theobald) takes to following strangers through the streets of Soho, ostensibly to kickstart his fiction. One day, one of his 'targets' bites back: Cobb (Haw) introduces himself as a burglar skilled at 'reading' people's identities from rifling through their possessions, and he insists that Bill should tag along to experience the thrill for himself. A complicated time structure (the film flashes backwards and forwards) signals that more is going on here than meets the eye. Sure enough, the denouement involves two double crosses, a femme fatale, a murder and a crowning triple cross. The generic pay off is a little disappointing after the edgy, character based scenes of exposition, but the film is acted and directed confidently enough to work well as a wry mystery thriller.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Following has been put to Blu-ray by Criterion.  The 16mm, black and white, film has been restored and looks, predictably, grainy and very pleasing. The image has less-noticeable imperfections only due to the production limitations.  This is dual-layered with a high bitrate and we can guess that it is a solid representation of the film. I was going to compare to the 2001 DVD but had trouble finding that SD disc. This Blu-ray is in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and contrast is impressive for the production format. I particularly find the textures attractive.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is offered in the original Dolby (2.0 channel) but also a new 5.1 surround mix by re-recording mixer Gary Rizzo. There is some buoyancy but, keep in mind, it is not of the same dynamic range of modern features. Still, I preferred it and it sustains some ambiance and Noir atmosphere to Following. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Included is the audio commentary by Nolan as found on the 2001 Sony DVD. He discusses production details for the limited feature including use of "parallel narratives". There is also a new 26-minute interview with Nolan (recorded by Criterion in 2010). There is a kind of interesting chronological edit of the full film (1:10:10) with the story events in chronological order. We get a 10-minute side-by-side comparison of the shooting script with three scenes from the film and Doodlebug (1997), a three-minute film by Nolan when attending University College - London, starring Following’s Jeremy Theobald. There are 2 trailers (Theatrical - 1:20, Re-Release - 1:30) and the package contains a liner notes leaflet with an essay by film critic and programmer Scott Foundas.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I liked Following when I first saw in on DVD over a decade ago - and the 1080P improvement only augments that appreciation. Nolan is a pretty solid guy - smart and can communicate his creativity - both in the narrative and in the supplements included on the disc. This is a very cool little film and the Criterion Blu-ray is the way to go to view it. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

December 5th, 2012

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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