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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

North By Northwest 50th Anniversary Edition Screened at AFI Festival

North by Northwest is now available in Blu-ray! In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s sleek masterwork, Warner Home Video performed a spectacular restoration, issuing a 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray and DVD. The special festival screening was scheduled the night before the November 3rd release, giving a few lucky people the first look at a Hitchcock film in a way it has never been seen before.

As part of the Gala event, director William Friedkin (The French Connection) was in attendance to moderate an introduction with two of the film’s stars Eva Marie Saint (who played, at her sultry and sexy best, the perfect Hitchcock heroine) and Martin Landau (who performed an early villainous role). Friedkin, a highly respected director and avid film preservationist, began by expressing his opinion of the restoration, stating, “I have never seen such a good print of this movie”. Both Ms. Saint and Mr. Landau matched Friedkin’s exuberance as they each took a turn expressing their enthusiasm for the special treatment bestowed upon one of their earlier works. Ms. Saint went on to praise the film itself, describing Hitchcock as a director, “who knew how to do suspense. Unlike the newcomers who show the broken glass, he would show you everything leading up to it. It’s the moments leading up to the event that create suspense and Hitch knew that”.

The film itself was simply stunning. North by Northwest is in very high viewing rotation among my DVDs and there were many moments in the film when I saw things I never noticed before. With the colors richer and deeper, nuanced details were popping out all over the place, and bits of action by minor players suddenly took on new meaning as they revealed themselves in fresher clarity. And the music! The famous theme music by Bernard Herrmann is as important a character as any. Pulsating with new life, the music keeps the ambience of the film as unnerved and desperate as Cary Grant as he's plunged into a world of spies and counterspies, abducted, framed for murder, chased, and (in the signature set-piece) crop-dusted.

The arrival of this iconic film on Blu-ray is a landmark event, marking the very first of the famed director’s films to become available in the state-of-the-art format. Accordingly, the film has received a meticulous million-dollar restoration and remastering with Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging scanning the original VistaVision production elements in the highest resolution possible. The resulting presentation reveals a depth of field and clarity never before seen, and serves to heighten every thrill-packed moment of this beloved classic.

The Blu-ray Book, as well as the Special Edition DVD, includes two new documentaries that examine the unmistakable Hitchcock style. Interviews feature such directors as Guillermo del Toro, William Friedkin, and Curtis Hanson sharing their thoughts on the film’s importance and its influence on their own work. Everyone who attended this special event left with a FREE copy. FREE! Now that the AFI Festival itself is free, it was like we were getting paid to see something amazing. Thank you AFI! I'll be coming back again to see you real soon.

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