All That Heaven Allows appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.75:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer reproduced the film in a satisfying manner.
Sharpness was quite good. Only a smidgen of softness ever interfered in some interior shots; the majority of the film offered strong clarity and accuracy. No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes were absent. With a good layer of grain, the image didn’t seem to suffer from digital noise reduction, and in terms of print flaws, I noticed no instances of specks, marks or other concerns.
Most of the time, I thought the film’s hues were vibrant and rich, and they suffered from no bleeding, noise or other issues. A couple of shots could be a little flat, but most demonstrated lively, vivid tones. Black levels looked fairly deep, and shadows were effectively displayed. This turned into a solid presentation.
I found the LPCM monaural soundtrack of Heaven to work fine. It didn’t exceed expectations for a mix of its age, but the audio was more than acceptable. Speech lacked edginess. The lines weren’t always natural – some showed obvious looping - but they seemed distinctive and without problems.
Effects showed no distortion and displayed acceptable definition. Music was pretty lively given its age, as the score sounded reasonably bright and concise. All together, I found little about which to complain, as the soundtrack aged well.
When we shift to extras, we start with an audio commentary from film scholars John Mercer and Tamar Jeffers-McDonald. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, cast and performances, color/visual design and costumes, themes and interpretation, social context, and the nature of the melodrama.
Mercer and Jeffers-McDonald favor interpretation of the film, and they do a good job in that regard. They provide a nice take on the various cinematic techniques on display and flesh out our understanding of the flick. I might’ve liked a bit more “nuts and bolts” about cast and crew, but this remains an involving chat.
From 1992, a program called Rock Hudson’s Home Movies runs one hour, three minutes, and 49 seconds. In it, Eric Farr acts out dialogue meant to relate Hudson’s “inner thoughts” about his sexuality, all while we see clips from Hudson films intended to illustrate these themes.
What were the folks at Criterion thinking when they agreed to include this thoroughly awful “documentary”? “Movies” acts as nothing more than catty innuendo with no substance behind it. Writer/director Mark Rappaport clearly thought of himself as being more clever and insightful than he was; “Movies” becomes a smug, insufferable experience.
Excerpts from a 1979 BBC documentary called Behind the Mirror: A Profile of Douglas Sirk last 57 minutes, 15 seconds. In these, we hear from Sirk as he discusses aspects of his life and career. While not the most exciting piece, “Mirror” covers its subject matter in a concise and informative manner.
We hear from one of the film’s actors via Contract Kid: William Reynolds on Douglas Sirk. In this 23-minute, four-second piece, Reynolds discusses his roles and those with whom he worked. We learn a lot about Reynolds’ experiences in this enjoyable piece.
With Cinema Cinemas, we find a 1982 interview with director Douglas Sirk. It goes for 15 minutes, 53 seconds and examines filmmaking elements and his preferences. The director brings us a nice examination of his stylistic choices.
In addition to the film’s Trailer, the set provides an 18-page booklet. It features an essay from film professor Laura Mulvey as well as a 1971 piece from filmmaker Rainer Warner Fassbinder about Heaven. It’s a quality addition.
The package also includes a DVD copy of Heaven. It replicates the extras from the Blu-ray.
With All That Heaven Allows, we find a well-crafted romance that sputters due to other problems. From its overwrought melodrama to the lack of chemistry between its leads to the thin social commentary, the movie doesn’t present much in the way of entertainment. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture along with more than acceptable audio and a mix of mostly positive bonus materials. I respect the work behind Heaven but the movie itself leaves me cold.