The Plot: In a legendary performance, three-time Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson stars as private eye Jake Gittes. Hired by a mysterious woman to investigate Hollis Mulwray, the Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Gittes' sleuthing brings him into contact with Mulwray's wife (Academy Award winner Faye Dunaway), a stunning socialite with secrets of her own. As a determined Gittes delves deeper he soon realises that even the City of Angels has a dark side. Director Roman Polanski's Chinatown has evolved from an atmospheric film noir mystery into a modern-day classic, with Robert Towne's Academy Award-winning script unforgettably and brilliantly capturing a lost era of deceit, corruption and treachery (Disc sleeve).
The glory days of the film noir were long gone by the time director Roman Polanski joined forces with screenwriter Robert Towne in 1973 to craft a gripping thriller about corruption, deceit and murder in Ď30s Los Angeles. The film they concocted became one of the defining movies of the genre Ė a remarkable thriller powered by astonishing performances and themes that still resonate today. Cinema rarely gets much better than this (HCC online).
The video: Compared to previous DVD releases, this hi-def presentation of Chinatown is like having a veil lifted from before your eyes. The AVC 2.35:1 1080p rendering is so much sharper, cleaner and clearer that (unless youíve ever had the chance to see the film projected from a 35mm print) itís like experiencing it for the first time. That said, itís certainly not perfect. Evidence of sharpening and the presence of minor speckles in the image smacks of the use of an older HD master. And itís hard not to think that a major restoration could bring even more vibrancy to the image. But despite this, Paramountís Blu-ray remains the best-looking version of the film that has ever been available to own (HCC online) (4).
The audio: The film arrives on Blu-ray with a choice of Dolby TrueHD soundtracks Ė a restored 2.0 mono incarnation and a 5.1 remix. Unsurprisingly, itís the former that serves the film best, bringing enhanced clarity and range to the filmís original audio design. If you do decide to venture in the direction of the 5.1 mix you wonít find anything dramatically different as Paramount has clearly decided to simply open the audio out a bit rather than add numerous surround sound bells Ďní whistles in the rear speakers. As such, itís possibly not as dynamic as some might expect, and feels a little lacking in low-end grunt (HCC Online) (4).