The Thief of Bagdad
Too often it's assumed that Blu-ray is best used for movies like "Fast Five" or "Transformers 3" - huge, cinemascope action movies that push CGI and high-clarity photography and every other bell and whistle to the limit. But my personal favorite Blu-ray releases are always classic restorations - old films brought back to former glory by high definition, seen for the first time in years in the kind of quality that was originally intended by the filmmakers. These releases aren't just technically impressive, they become special - like a true rerelease, in some cases as good (or better!) than going to the theatre. This restoration of Douglas Fairbanks in "The Thief of Bagdad" is one of those releases.
Lavish, baroque, extravagant - attach whatever adjective you'd like to it, but Fairbank's best film, this 2 ½ hour adaptation of Arabian Nights (as directed by the legendary journeyman Raoul Walsh), is truly stunning. Though silent, it's colors are luscious, lovingly tinted onto the frames. And the action itself - magic carpets, flying tricks, messages appearing in the sky - outclasses the best CGI going today. This is real "movie magic." And the video transfer itself is impeccable, the picture full of grain and detail, the colors popping off the screen.
The extras are worthwhile if short-in-supple - a "conversational" commentary with a Fairbanks scholar (he touches more on the man than on the movie), and a collection of production skills set to a score (not unlike the one attached to the film). Still, with an adventure as epic as the one in the feature, you'll hardly have time for additional excursions.
"The Thief of Bagdad"