Cold Mountain is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate-Miramax with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. This is for the most part a solid and substantial high definition upgrade, one which presents the films beautiful locations in appreciably increased detail, but one which perhaps doesn’t quite rise to the level of some other recent Lionsgate-Miramax catalog releases like Frida and Shakespeare in Love. Grain is noticeably more apparent in this release (as it is in Minghella’s The English Patient, which I’ll be reviewing directly after Cold Mountain), and is no doubt part of Minghella’s preferred visual style. While it’s never overwhelming, it definitely spikes in a number of sequences, quite noticeably in several of the darker moments as well as (perhaps surprisingly) shots that include bright, clear skies. The image offers nicely robust colors, though it must be said that Minghella and DP John Seale deliberately mute some of the palette, especially in the battle sequences, so that they look almost like old daguerreotypes. Fine detail is exceptional in midrange and close- ups (some of the close- ups of Law’s deteriorating face are in fact alarmingly well detailed), while far range shots tend to just slight fuzziness at times. Aside from some very minor haloing, there really aren’t any artifacts to report here. This isn’t quite up to the excellent standards set by the first couple of releases in this ongoing Lionsgate-Miramax wave, and some might wonder if the film might have looked at least a bit better, but overall my sense is fans should be very well pleased with this high definition upgrade.
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