Gosford Park appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, the picture seemed fine for what the filmmakers intended to do.
Sharpness appeared good for the most part. A few interiors appeared slightly soft, but those didn’t create any big concerns, so most of the film looked nicely detailed and distinct.
Jagged edges and moiré effects presented no issues, and edge haloes remained absent. With a nice layer of grain, I didn’t suspect heavy use of digital noise reduction, and print flaws failed to mar the presentation.
Due to the style of the film, the palette remained fairly subdued through most of the movie, and it also took on that amber tone typical of period flicks. Within these choices, the hues came across with good clarity and definition throughout the movie.
Black levels seemed nicely deep and rich, while shadow detail appeared appropriately heavy without excessive opacity. Ultimately, Gosford Park presented a good image that seemed to represent the filmmakers’ intentions for the most part.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Gosford Park provided a serviceable but unspectacular presentation. Not surprisingly, the soundfield remained heavily oriented toward the front channels.
The surrounds rarely added much, as even during a thunderstorm scene - the kind of element that usually spices up this kind of mix - the audio stayed largely anchored in the front. Since Gosford focused so strongly on speech, I didn’t find this orientation to be a problem.
Music displayed good stereo presence, and effects spread well across the front. Nothing memorable came from the soundscape, but it seemed appropriate for the story.
Sound quality appeared fine. Speech showed nice clarity, with no signs of edginess or other issues.
Effects were clean and accurate, and they showed no issues related to distortion. Music worked well, as the score and songs appeared bright and vivid.
Low-end didn’t create a substantial presence during the film, but the track showed good fidelity and dynamics. In the end, the soundtrack of Gosford Park seemed satisfactory for this sort of film.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2002? Audio remained similar in scope, but the lossless DTS-HD MA mix appeared a bit more natural and dynamic.
As for the visuals, the Blu-ray looked better defined and cleaner, with more accurate colors and blacks. The Blu-ray became a good upgrade.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, including three separate audio commentaries. The first involves director Robert Altman, production designer Stephen Altman, and producer David Levy.
All three sit together for this running, screen-specific track. I’ve heard Altman commentaries for Nashville and M*A*S*H and found both to offer pretty weak discussions.
Altman occasionally provided some interesting remarks, but that material popped up infrequently, so those tracks suffered from many empty spaces. I hoped that the presence of the other two filmmakers would make this commentary a more active affair, but unfortunately, it shows many of the flaws found on those prior pieces.
On the positive side, the Altman boys and Levy occasionally provide some interesting remarks. For example, we learn about the director’s desire to get an “R” rating instead of a “PG-13”, and he also chats about period details, casting, and a few other moments. Stephen Altman and Levy chime in on similar topics, though they don’t do much more than reflect the director’s material.
As with the other Altman tracks, Gosford flops because so much of it passes without information. Scads of time passes without remark, and even when someone does speak, the details usually seem fairly lackluster.
This track succeeds better than the prior Altman commentaries, but not by much. Overall, it seems fairly boring and tedious.
The second commentary comes from screenwriter Julian Fellowes, who sits alone for this running, occasionally screen-specific piece. I feel Fellowes offers a strong chat, but others may disagree for one reason: he devotes relatively little time to the subject of the movie itself.
To be sure, Fellowes covers some issues particular to Gosford, such as the cast and the writing process. However, most of the track relates to the facts behind the movie.
Fellowes provides a terrific discussion of the reality of the various situations, and he even tosses in his own experiences with upper-crust relatives and his upbringing. Fellowes seems chatty, engaging, and very informative, so I like this commentary quite a lot. However, folks with no patience for tracks that don’t deal exclusively with the movie - and I know you’re out there - will probably not care for it.
Recorded for the 2018 Blu-ray, the third commentary features critics David Thompson and Geoff Andrew, both of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific view of the project’s origins and development, story/characters, cast and performances, Robert Altman’s approach, sets and production design, period details, and related domains.
Thompson and Andrew start well, so they give us good information during the movie’s first act. After that, though, the quality of the material declines.
Not that this ever turns into a bad commentary, as it brings a reasonable overview. However, the chat loses punch too soon and turns into a less than enthralling piece much of the time.
Next we find The Making of Gosford Park, a 19-minute and 52-second featurette with director Altman, screenwriter Fellowes, producer Levy, and actors Emily Watson, Alan Bates, Richard E. Grant, Bob Balaban, Stephen Fry, Eileen Atkins, Ryan Phillippe, Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas, Kelly Macdonald, Clive Owen, Jeremy Northam, and Derek Jacobi.
The program starts well, as we learn nice facts about the genesis of the project and Altman’s working style, such as his loose reliance on the script. However, before too long the show degenerates into a fairly generic promotional piece that does little more than relate some basic plot and character points.
It picks up again toward the end, and we even get to see bits of the Golden Globe ceremony and the announcement of the Oscar nominations. In the end, the documentary has enough moments to merit a look, but it seems fairly insubstantial.
15 deleted scenes fill a total of 20 minutes, four seconds. I find the scenes interesting to watch, and those who don’t like the loose nature of Gosford will wish some of them made the cut, as they add structure and plot elements to the tale.
We can watch the clips with or without commentary from Robert Altman, Stephen Altman, and David Levy. As with their longer track heard during the movie, their remarks here appear sporadically.
Sometimes we learn why the snippets didn’t end up in the film, and sometimes we don’t. I’d estimate that they explain the deletion of about half the material, and virtually all of those shots got the boot because they were either too plot-driven or too sentimental. Otherwise, the commentators do little more than describe the scenes.
The Authenticity of Gosford Park provides an eight-minute, 40-second look at the facts behind the fiction. Here we get notes from Robert Altman, Fellowes, Levy, actors Bates, Jacobi, and Mirren, butler technical advisor Arthur Inch, cook technical advisor Ruth Mott, and parlour maid technical advisor Violet Liddle.
Although Fellowes already covers many of these issues during his commentary, “Authenticity” seems interesting due to the participation of the technical advisors. All served in their various capacities back in the 1930s, so they bring a nice level of depth to the show.
During Cast and Filmmakers Q&A Session, we get a 25-minute, one-second session taped in March 2002, only a few weeks prior to the Oscars. Moderated by Pete Hammond, this chat includes Robert Altman, Fellowes, Levy, and actors Bob Balaban, Kelly Macdonald, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, and Ryan Phillippe (who enters after about 11 minutes).
Overall this offers a good conversation. Hammond asks questions for the first 12 or so minutes, and then audience members chime in with their queries. We hear some of the information conveyed elsewhere, but the program still offers some useful material.
New to the Blu-ray, Executive Service provides a 2018 interview with executive producer Jane Barclay. During this 20-minute, 46-second chat, she discusses how she got into movies as well as aspects of her career and her involvement on Park. Barclay provides an engaging look at her work.
Another 2018 piece, Acting Upper Class offers a 10-minute, 57-second interview with actor Natasha Wightman. She looks at her career and experiences during the film. Though brief, this turns into a useful chat.
In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, we get a booklet. Along with credits and photos, it includes an essay from film critic Sheila O’Malley and a 2006 interview with Robert Altman. The booklet brings value to the set.
While I doubt I’ll ever be a real fan of Robert Altman’s work, Gosford Park works well. The movie provides an unusually dispassionate take on the murder mystery genre and offers a clever and intriguing experience. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and supplements with appropriate audio. Arrow make this a nice release for an engaging film.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of GOSFORD PARK