I’ve been concerned that some of the Dreamworks movies released on Blu-ray through Paramount have been underdeveloped examples of the format. Sure, the Spielberg movies were filmed with an intentionally grainy style, but that may only work when projected on film. It seems they have HD-worthy titles in their catalog though, as American Beauty shows off the format, and a decade-old film in new clarity and detail. If only the ‘90s viewers could see their suburban despair in this high quality.
The picture quality is crisp and clear. You see faint hints of fine grain that remind you that this was shot on good old fashioned film, but it’s minute. It gets a little hazy sometimes in the school gymnasium or garish business parties, like the extreme flat light exposes specs in the film they just can’t erase. Occasionally you notice odd flecks that might just be dirt. Did they not have a clean print of their Oscar winning classic?
The mundane office and suburban settings still have a lot of texture. You see the grit of fuzzy office cubicles, grease specks on a stovetop and dust on Ricky’s urine fridge. These are the real details that add an extra definition to the setting of monotony. I also like admiring the textures of the actors’ faces in those intense dramatic close-ups.
The colors are exquisite. The green pampered lawns are lush and the red rose fantasies are surreal and beautiful like “Pushing Daisies” used to look on TV. The Blu-ray release of American Beauty shows that Paramount/Dreamworks can do right by their A-list titles. At least, those of us who still love this movie 11 years later can enjoy it in an all new way.