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The City Of Lost Children (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

In the 1990s, independent films were on the rise and studios like Miramax were at the forefront of distribution. Many studios created a separate wing to focus on and gather the independent, documentary, art house and international films under a single banner away from the blockbusters and bigger star studded fare. Sony Pictures developed Sony Pictures Classics for this very reason in 1992. And for the 30th Anniversary of the studio’s formation, they will be putting out a 4K Ultra-HD box set with 11 films from the course of their history, including 10 that are making their debut on the format. This review will be covering Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro’s highly acclaimed The City of Lost Children starring Ron Perlman. You can order yourself a copy of this impressive box set, which would make a fantastic gift for that special cinephile in your life, using the paid Amazon Associates link below.

Film

Old and decrepit Krank (Daniel Emilfork) has lost his capacity for dreaming and is attempting to fight death by stealing the dreams of children. Krank’s cadre of cloned henchmen (Dominique Pinon) snatch 5-year-old Denree (Joseph Lucien) to subject him to the horrific dream-retrieval process. The boy’s father, One (Ron Perlman), the hulking strongman of a traveling circus, and his precocious 9-year-old friend, Miette (Judith Vittet), join forces to defeat Krank’s minions and save Denree.

The City of Lost Children continues a pushes the visionary skills showcased by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro in their previous collaboration Delicatessen. Its a fairytale as only these two could tell it. People tend to toss around the term visionary with ease or just if your film makes a billion dollars at the box office. There’s a lot more too it. Its not about how much fantastical stuff you came cram in a frame, its simply about how you paint that frame even if has zero stuff in it.

Jeunet & Caro’s work definitely could be compared in style to that of Terry Gilliam. However, they seem to be pushing a couple things that informed a lot of the science fiction and fantasy of the 1990s, especially in the world of the lower budgeted faire and international market stuff. There’s the obvious steampunk stuff going on with tech in the film as witness by the cyclops gang  and the dream machines. But one of the notable things is the very grunge stylings here that are almost gorgeous in their look here. Its the sort of style that would be present here all the way through the TARDIS interior in 2005’s Doctor Who. Whether its fantasy based here like is also found in something like Dark City or more grounded in The Crow, its what “the look” was of the time. Jeaunet and Caro were masters of it but it was just in their blood. Its just how things were as evidenced when handed a franchise picture in Alien Resurrection.

More than just shadows, fogs, dark trench coats, smoking and goth influences, the grunge thing had to do with a grimy to the touch look and feel. An important factor in getting that look is color. And here in The City of Lost Children, it epitomizes what makes that tick. There’s a battle between greens and reds contrasting off one another throughout the film. Some of it fits thematics and informs us of certain things subtly or subliminally. Then there’s the choice to light objects and people with a golden filter. That sort of births this aesthetic that many aim for but few can make it beautiful art like our creators here.

There’s so much to open up and go on about with The City of Lost Children. As a teen in the 90s, this was one of the films that had trailers on many VHS tapes back in the day and you’d recognize it at the rental store. Then one friend (Maybe it was you) takes the plunge, discovers it and then it spreads to everyone in your circle and becomes a favorite. Now, years later, staring at this stunning 4K presentation, its incredible to see this film is even more fantastic than I can remember or have ever seen it. A true gem of unique fantasy filmmaking with the creators flexing and enjoying showing off what they got and never being afraid to be themselves.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review from the standard Blu-ray, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc. They are also not of my own capturing. If you feel they are yours and you do not condone their usage, please contact the site and we will have them removed. 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail The City of Lost Children comes to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for the first time with a jaw-dropping, absolutely gorgeous restoration and transfer. This is a beauty to look at. Its crisp, with a nice layer of grain and is loaded with some of the finest details clear as day in your picture. Color saturation and black levels are absolutely top notch. I’m reviewing these in order of how the discs in the set go, but I’m going to be surprised if this isn’t one of the top looking films after all is said don…reviewed!

Depth: Depth of field is quite incredible here with great pushback and a powerful sense of scale on display. There’s a lot of playfulness with different lenses in the film and this transfer represents them with great strength. Movements are smooth and natural and no issues occur with any motion distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are at natural levels and well saturated. Its important cuz this is a very dark movie. Its impressive how many fine details, patterns and texture come through with clarity and easy despite how dark the area or surface could be. Shadows and night scenes look gorgeous. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors pop quite good with the contrast on the blacks. The grungy stuff looks pretty bold and much of the color is rock solid. Reds, greens and gold stand out as intended. HDR really helps with some of the liquids, gasses, fire and more that give off more of a glow.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have a little bit of a golden tint to them and are consistent from start to finish. Facial features and textures come through clear as day no matter the distance in the frame. Its insane how much you can make out such as lip texture, moles, pores, wrinkles, blemishes and more with such through a window-like quality.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): French 2.0 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH

Dynamics: The City of Lost Children carries over the same 2.0 track found on the Blu-ray. Its a rock solid track with good balance and layering on the effects, score and vocals. It does sort of lack on its low end contributions even though its merely 2.0. And some of the bigger action sequences can sometimes slightly sound a hair monotonous or stuffed in spots.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

The City Of Lost Children 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray comes only as a part of the Sony Pictures Classics: 30th Anniversary Collection. Aside from the new commentary, all bonus features carry over from the previous standard Blu-ray release.

Audio Commentary

  • with Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet – New for this release.
  • with Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Actor Ron Perlman

Featurettes

  • “Making-of” Featurette (HD, 27:13)
  • Les Archives de Jean-Pierre Jeunet (HD, 13:37)
  • Interview with Jean-Paul Gaultier – Costume designer (HD, 3:33)

Teasers and Trailers

  • Domestic Trailer (HD, 2:22)
  • International Teaser #1 (HD, :36)
  • International Teaser #2 (HD, :37)
  • International Trailer (HD, 1:14)

Summary

The City of Lost Children is visionary fairy tale with strong style and a personality all its own. The transfer on it for this set is a masterful stroke, looking quite amazing on the 4K format. The disc carries over its audio track from the Blu-ray as well as the extras. In addition, Jeunet supplies a brand new commentary. This is quite the jewel of a film and the presentation feels like it could be one of the tops for the box set.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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