DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: ZODIAC DIR CUT (BLU-RAY)

Monday, 2 February 2009


Zodiac Dir Cut (2007) dir. David Fincher
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chloe Sevigny


David Fincher's films are what high definition was made for. His high contrast underlit dark images barely held together on standard DVD, but now with the wide contrast range of the high resolution format the film can fully be experienced in all it's pristine glory.

"Zodiac" in standard definition is a frustrating experience. The opening scene takes place at night as we see the tragic first victims of the Zodiac's rampage of terror. In standard definition I found myself struggling with the contrast, brightness, and colour settings in order to see everything in this scene. As well, in standard def, Fincher's green tint seems to get amplified to gross levels on a plasma screen. Yuck.

And now with the release of Paramount's BLU-RAY version of the film, "Zodiac" can be viewed properly. It comes in the form of a 'director's cut'. Unfortunately after watching the cut, I didn't notice anything new in the film. I guess that's a good thing, because there was absolutely nothing wrong with the film in the first place. The best new addition is a conference call between Ruffalo and Edwards' characters and the District Attorney pleading for a search warrant for Arthur Leigh Allen's trailer. The scene reinforces the desperate frustration the characters feel in catching their killer.

The two lengthy documentaries fulfill the technical and historical backstories to the story. The making of documentary is told by the producer and writer of the film in an Errol Morris-style point of view against a white background. Unfortunately we never see Fincher discussing his film (you have to click on the audio commentary for that). Instead, Fincher's methods of madness are discussed at large by everyone involved in the film. Everyone gets their shot. The anecdotes of his obsessive pursuit of perfection are enjoyable, specifically Gyllenhaal's description of some 40-odd takes to catch a non-descript close-up cutaway of a book on the seat of his car - the kind of obsession that approaches Kubrickian heights.

The scene-by-scene analysis of the special effects are fascinating. A few of the effects clearly stand out as computer generated, but others, such as the crime scene after the taxi-cab murder is completely invisible - which showcases some more Fincher's at-all-costs approach to achieving his vision.

It's hard not to think of the similarities between Fincher and Robert Graysmith. The obsessions of Graysmith which resulted in two masterpieces of true crime is matched only by the meticulous detail Fincher applied in making his own masterpiece. And in High Definition the elements of the puzzle fit together for all to see in an obsessively perfect pristine picture. Enjoy.

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