Following appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Given its extremely low-budget origins, the flick never would’ve looked great, so don’t expect wonders from the Blu-ray transfer.
For the most part, sharpness appeared adequate. The original photography occasionally rendered things somewhat indistinct, but not to a terrible degree. The movie retained a fairly positive sense of definition. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement was absent.
Unsurprisingly, source flaws were an issue. Due to its 16mm origins, grain became very heavy, and I also noticed some other few defects. Specks, gate hairs and some lines popped up sporadically throughout the film. These weren’t overwhelming or surprising, but a smattering of defects occurred.
Black levels looked pretty nice and deep, and contrast was adequate. I wouldn’t claim that the project came with an appealing silver sheen, but low-light shots demonstrated reasonable clarity. This was a more than acceptable presentation for a production of this sort.
Paired here with the film’s original monaural audio, I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Following was decent. The mix remained monaural much of the time except for the stereo music, which displayed good delineation and spread. Some ambience popped up at times, especially during street or restaurant scenes, but this didn’t have much to do, and it could be fairly “speaker-specific” without much blending. Surround usage was minor and added nothing of note.
Speech seemed acceptable, as the lines were intelligible. They could come across as a bit dense at times, but they were usually fine. Effects played a minor role and seemed passable. They failed to present much range but the mix didn’t ask much from them, so that wasn’t a problem. Music was reasonably bright and dynamic.
As with the picture, the audio worked fine for a film of this one’s origins, but don’t anticipate more than that. In fact, I’d probably go with the original mono if I viewed the movie again, as I didn’t think the 5.1 remix added anything to the proceedings.
From there we shift to the Blu-ray’s extras, and we launch with an audio commentary from writer/director Christopher Nolan. He provides a running, screen-specific discussion of the film’s origins and development, story/character areas, the script and the movie’s structure, cast and performances, locations, camerawork and the choice to shoot black and white, the restrictions of the “no-budget” production, and a few other areas.
From start to finish, Nolan delivers an engaging and informative chat. He touches on a good variety of topics related to his debut and delves into the subjects well. This allows the piece to become useful and worthwhile. Maybe Nolan will make all of us happy and record commentaries for the “Dark Knight Trilogy” someday!
For more with the director, we go to an Interview with Director Christopher Nolan. During this 26-minute, 21-second piece, Nolan addresses how he got into films and his early days, aspects of shooting Following, the movie’s release and its legacy in terms of his career.
I worried that Nolan would simply repeat info from the commentary here, but happily, that doesn’t become the case. More technical in nature, Nolan touches on a variety of nuts and bolts details connected to Following. He delivers another engaging, informative piece here.
Similar to a feature found on the Memento DVD, we can watch a “Linear Edit” of Following. Like the final version, it runs one-hour, 10-minutes, 10 seconds, but it radically alters the movie’s sequencing, as it re-orders the scenes to run in chronological order. That makes it interesting as a novelty, but it’s not an enjoyable or effective way to watch the flick.
Next comes a Script to Film Comparison. It goes for nine minutes, 55 seconds and shows screenplay pages next to shots from the movie. This allows us to view how closely Nolan adhered to the script and what changes he allowed. It’s a fun way to view parts of the original text.
For more early Nolan, we go to the Doodlebug Short Film. In this two-minute, 56-second piece from 1997, we find actor Jeremy Theobald in a surreal tale of a man who tries to kill an unusual “pest”. Though not particularly successful, I’m happy we get to see Nolan’s first work.
In addition to two trailers for Following, we get an eight-page booklet. This throws in an essay from Film Society of Lincoln Center associate program director Scott Foundas. It’s less substantial than most Criterion booklets, but it still has merit.
I find it interesting to view early films from notable directors; they’re usually flawed, but they’re good to see for historical purposes. That goes for Christopher Nolan’s Following, a movie with ups and downs that still works, mainly due to a strong script. The Blu-ray provides acceptable picture and audio as well as some useful supplements. I’m happy to have seen the flick and think other Nolan fans will dig it, too.