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Test 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray : Footloose (1984)

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Test 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray : Footloose (1984)

Synopsis

The small town of Bomont is under the yoke of a harsh law. Dancing and music that leads to evil have been banned since the car accident that killed the son of the Reverend Shaw Moore. It is in this context that Ren McCormick, a young man from Chicago and dancer, arrives one day. At first trying to ignore the law, he will ultimately decide to fight it, with his friends Willard and Ariel, trying to prove to the reverend that dancing does not necessarily lead to depravity.

NB: The image comparisons (.jpg compression, 8-bit) are strictly for illustrative purposes and are not representative of what the Ultra HD Blu-ray will broadcast on your calibrated UHD HDR screen.

In order to highlight the concrete use of Wide Color Gamut (WCG) on this edition (see tutorial here), the pixels which are located in the standard/BT.709 range (confined inside the small triangle REC.709) are presented to you here fully desaturated. Conversely, those part of the expanded BT.2020 range, exclusive to the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc (which extend outside the small triangle REC.709) are presented to you in color:

Video Quality

In 1984, Footloose directed by Herbert Ross, leaves his mark on the cinematographic landscape, brilliantly embodying the protest spirit of youth through the prism of dance. Beyond a simple narration centered on the character of Ren McCormack, brilliantly played by Kevin Bacon, who challenges the conventions of a town steeped in conservatism, the film elevates dance beyond its primary function of entertainment. It becomes a visceral celebration, anchored in human experience, a practice that goes beyond distraction to touch the sacred. This dimension, both mystical and emancipatory, gives the film a singular scope, illustrating how dance can simultaneously symbolize revolt and forge a spirit of communion. “Footloose” thus echoes a passionate call for collective joy, reminding us that dancing is above all celebrating a component of our humanity.

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Footloose (1984) was originally captured on 35mm film using Panavision Panaflex cameras equipped with spherical lenses. The previous Blu-ray dates from 2011. For its 40th anniversary celebrated in 2024, Herbert Ross’ film has benefited from a new supervised master in 4K. This anniversary version is presented in 2160p resolution with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and includes HDR10 and Dolby Vision technologies.

There has been a new scan and this 2024 presentation firstly has the merit of presenting a slightly more generous framing than the previous Blu-ray. It faithfully adheres to the original ratio of 1.85:1, unlike the 2011 edition with a ratio of 1.78:1. This fidelity to the original format is the first indicator of a careful and respectful restoration, which has managed to remove any traces of deterioration or dirt on the film, which is another good point. The previous edition was marked by signs ofedge enhancement, exaggerated contrasts and particularly disturbing aliasing artifacts, defects now absent from this new version. “Footloose” now benefits from a more natural definition, without resorting to digital manipulation or attempts at artificial emphasis. This authenticity is particularly appreciable in the close-ups, like those featuring Ariel and her father, Pastor Shaw Moore, where the tension between the characters is palpable. However, it should be noted that the image has a characteristic softness that could disappoint, with sharpness that could be perceived as receding, particularly in the wide shots of the town of Bomont. This softness, however, seems consistent with the film’s original photography, and it is certainly exacerbated by direct comparisons with the previous Blu-ray marked by overdone edges. Certain sequences pose additional challenges, with softer shots, as observed during the fragile scene of the tractor duel, but we remain in a solid presentation over the overall duration of the feature film. A fine and rather well-defined grain envelops the images, providing a 35mm texture immediately perceptible from the opening scene carried by the title song “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. The encoding remains healthy. It is illustrated by an average bitrate of 71 Mbps for the Dolby Vision version (DV FEL).

The HDR calibration brought to this recent edition of Footloose (1984) stands out with subtle improvements. Far from the tendency to favor excessive color saturation, this version favors a more nuanced and restrained palette. The adjustments were made with precision, giving the images a refined sobriety. This finesse in the treatment of colors does not exclude the judicious use of the extended gamut, which manifests itself in specific moments, in particular by bursts of perforating colors: during festive sequences such as the dance scenes in the rural bar, the lively atmosphere of the end-of-year ball, or the stained glass windows seen in the background of the church. Comparing the HDR10 version and Dolby Vision reveals notable differences. The Dolby Vision version offers significantly sharper light peaks and a considerably higher maximum peak (MaxCLL), reaching 4311 nits, compared to 942 nits for the standard HDR10 layer. It also benefits from a significant contribution from the FEL overlay in terms of video compression. (for a higher average bitrate of 14279 kbps).

Audio Quality

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If the original version of Footloose (1984) switches from a 6.1 track to a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 version (24-bit, 3777 kbps), However, the experience is not degraded. This mix is ​​primarily oriented towards the front sound field. It stands out for its top-notch vocal clarity and the perception of captivating soundscapes, such as those experienced in bar scenes, school corridors, or the distant echo of a train. The surround scene is not neglected as will be demonstrated by its involvement during the mishap on the road, where Ariel, standing on two cars (one foot on each door), almost collided with a truck. The film’s soundtrack “Footloose” from 1984 is a perfect example of how music can become as iconic, if not more so, than the film it represents. And it is she who will catch your attention in this mix with simply iconic titles: “Footloose” par Kenny Loggins, “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams or “Almost Paradise” by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson. The VF remains in Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 kbps) on this UHD edition.

Bonus

– Commentary by Craig Zadan and Dean Pitchford
– Commentary by Kevin Bacon
– Let’s dance! Kevin Bacon in Footloose
– From Bomont to Big Apple: An interview with Sarah Jessica Parker
– In memory of Willard
– Kevin Bacon’s Screen Essay
– Costumes de Kevin Bacon
– Footloose: A Modern Musical – Part 1 & 2
– Footloose: Songs that tell a story
– Trailer

Conclusion

A remarkable progression which rectifies the obvious shortcomings of the previous Blu-ray version, even if a softness of image remains, to which it is necessary to accommodate. Carried by a tangy soundtrack, the young Kevin Bacon dashing in a tight leotard and the sparkling Lori Singer, the film still makes us vibrate with guilty pleasure. A timeless eighties treat!

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