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4K Ultra HD Review: Babylon (SteelBook Edition)

March 21, 2023

By John Corrado

Please note that this is a review of the 4K Ultra HD release of Babylon. For my full thoughts on the film itself, you can read my original review right here.

Damien Chazelle’s Old Hollywood epic Babylon is being released on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray this week, including in a limited edition 4K SteelBook set.

Chazelle’s entertaining, party-fuelled film is set at the end of the silent film era at the dawn of the “talkies,” and centres around a cast of characters, including a production assistant (Diego Calva), an aspiring starlet (Margot Robbie), and a fading silent star (Brad Pitt).

Nominated for three Oscars (Production Design, Costume Design and Score), all of which it lost, the film received somewhat mixed reviews and was a box office flop, but seems poised for critical reappraisal in the future.

While I did find the film to be a bit uneven and at times tonally inconsistent, I have to say that I admired the effort behind Babylon when I reviewed it back in January, and the film has gained a passionate fanbase. It’s an ambitious and never boring swing-for-the-fences from Chazelle, backed by solid performances from its ensemble cast (Pitt would have deserved an Oscar nomination), and set to an incredible jazz score by Justin Hurwitz that I haven’t stopped listening to since. I have a feeling this one will age quite well.

I was sent the 4K SteelBook for review, which is the most attractive set for both collectors and fans of the film. The shiny black case (though prone to fingerprints) boasts some nice artwork, with a kaleidoscopic collage of characters on the front, an exploding champagne flute on the back, and an image of Robbie’s Nellie LaRoy crowdsurfing across the inside panels behind where the three discs are held. The 4K disc itself offers the best presentation of Linus Sandgren’s captivating 35mm cinematography in 2160p.

Film Rating: ★★★ (out of 4)

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The 4K set boasts over forty minutes of special features, which are held on a separate Blu-ray disc. A regular Blu-ray containing the film and a code for a digital copy are also included in the package.

A Panoramic Canvas Called Babylon (30 minutes, 50 seconds): A solid overview of Chazelle’s vision for the film, from depicting the hedonism of the 1920s, to the production design, costumes, and Justin Hurwitz’s incredible musical score. We also get to see a bit of the screen test that he shot on his phone in his backyard with Robbie and Calva.

The Costumes of Babylon (2 minutes, 51 seconds): A closer look at the authentic period costumes by Mary Zophres, who had to dress seven thousand actors, with the film containing over a hundred speaking parts and thousands of background extras.

Scoring Babylon (1 minute, 50 seconds): Expanding slightly on what we see in the longer featurette, this is an all-too-brief closer look at Hurwitz’s music, with the composer talking about crafting a horns-heavy, jazz-influenced score that is true to the time period, while also hinting at later musical genres like rock and roll.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (Play All – 9 minutes, 15 seconds): A selection of moments that were trimmed from the film, which don’t change the overall plot.

Manny Drives Jack – Deleted (54 seconds)

Elinor Chats With Extra – Extended (2 minutes, 26 seconds)

Cutting Room – Deleted (41 seconds)

Dressing Room Fight – Deleted (2 minutes, 21 seconds)

Powder Room – Extended (1 minute, 41 seconds)

Passport Search – Deleted (1 minute, 7 seconds)

Babylon is a Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 188 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: March 21st, 2023

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