The two-disc 4K Ultra HD Edition of the classic holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life” is absolutely stunning. It’s brighter and even though it is a black-and-white movie, the colors (gray tones) are richer.
James Stewart and Donna Reed star in this timeless tale. We have all wondered what life would have been like if we had not been born. What have our lives meant to others? Well, for George Bailey who is on the brink of financial ruin, he actually gets the chance to find out. With the help of Clarence (Henry Travers), an angel in waiting, George learns exactly what his life has meant to the people of the town of Bedford Falls. Even though he is in a state of confusion, depression, and frustration, George gets a life lesson that is truly uplifting for all viewers.
What is absolutely amazing about this new 4K version is what comes along with the memorable story. The bonus features not only add to the history of the film, but for anyone interested in making movies, they are great lessons in how the new technology is saving films from being lost forever.
In the past, films were made with nitrate, which is comprised of silver. That is how the term “Silver Screen” came to be. But over time it deteriorates. New technology has a way of restoring old films for new generations of viewers. Instead of using sprockets and pins, the technical team used gentle rollers to scan the images. And in the case of this film, many scenes and especially the final reel from the master, were completely deteriorated. So by taking two additional rolls of the film, they managed to restore this magnificent film to look even better than it did when it was first released in 1946!
With the high dynamic rage of 4K, this is the absolute best way to watch this classic. If you don’t have 4K compatibility, definitely convert your TV and Blu-ray soon as this makes all the difference in the world. Watching 4K films is the very best with the latest technology to date.
Another bonus looks at how the town was constructed. It consisted mainly of facades constructed in the San Fernando Valley and in June 1946 there was a heat wave in Southern California. With the story taking place in winter, with rain and snow, the filmmakers were challenged, as well as the actors who were all bundled up in coats when it was about 100 degrees outside.
Director Frank Capra knew Jimmy Stewart was best on his first take so instead of using bleached cornflakes for the snow, which crunched when walked on, they developed an alternative using foam used by firefighters. This way it didn’t crunch and Stewart didn’t have to go back and dub (loop) his lines into the film to cover up the crunching.
Another bonus is a look at the wrap party, which is fun to watch as the cast were in their summer clothes eating ice cream and the kids were playing in the sun. What a difference from the wintry scenes in the movie.
The Blu-ray disc includes the black-and-white version as well as a colorized version. The 4K disc includes the bonus features and the ultra high-def 4K version.
In 1977 Marlo Thomas made “It Happened One Christmas,” which is an updated remake of this movie, with a female lead. But no one can beat the original. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is truly an American classic.