Dazed and Confused appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Although it lacked the consistency to merit “A”-level consideration, the transfer usually looked quite good.
No real problems with sharpness occurred. A couple of minor instances of softness popped up, but they went by quickly and caused no issues. Instead, the movie mostly was accurate and concise. I saw no concerns with jagged edges or shimmering, and only minor edge enhancement appeared. Print flaws weren’t a distraction. I noticed a couple of small specks but those fell into “blink and you’ll miss them” territory; they remained inconsequential.
Dazed went with a pretty natural palette, though with a moderately garish Seventies tone. The disc replicated the tones well. The colors were consistently lively and fresh. Blacks were dense and firm, while shadows seemed concise and well developed. This positive presentation merited a “B+”.
The disc’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack also seemed solid. Given the film’s budget and scope, I didn’t expect much from the soundfield, and it developed along anticipated lines. The front speakers heavily dominated, and music played the most important role up there. The film used period songs almost constantly, and they usually showed good stereo delineation.
Effects mostly stayed in the realm of general ambience, as they offered a nice feeling of place and setting. Occasionally we got a little more than that, such as during the mailbox destruction scene, but usually we stayed with modest environmental material. The surrounds lightly supported those elements and that was about it.
Audio quality was fine. Dialogue consistently came across as natural and distinctive, with no signs of edginess or problems connected to intelligibility. Effects appeared accurate and crisp. They didn’t often tax things, but they were clean.
Music varied dependent on the source. Some songs appeared vibrant and lively, while some others seemed somewhat muddy and flat. The majority of the tunes appeared well defined, though. Overall, the tracks weren’t scintillating but they functioned fine for this style of movie.
How did this Blu-ray release compare with the Criterion DVD from 2006? It demonstrated the standard upgrades, especially in terms of visuals. The lossless audio seemed a bit richer but wasn’t a huge improvement. On the other hand, the picture looked tighter, cleaner and more dynamic. It demonstrated a nice step-up over the old DVD.
I also felt the Criterion Blu-ray topped the ”standard issue” version from Universal. Both offered similar audio but the Criterion delivered superior visuals. It looked less processed and more natural.
The Blu-ray includes the same supplements as the Criterion DVD. These open with an audio commentary from director Richard Linklater. He offers a running, screen-specific piece in which he discusses influences and real-life inspirations for many of the film’s elements. In addition, he talks about cast and characters, the movie’s music, working with studio backing and dealing with their interference, and issues with corporate America. Linklater also chats about his desire to make a film that looks and feels like something from the 70s, the script and changes made to it, and the movie’s reception.
In short, Linklater touches on pretty much everything you’d want and expect. Consistently lively and energetic, he relates all the fun he had but also tells us of the many problems he experienced. Linklater really digs into the conflicts with the studio as well as all the rejections corporate entities issued. He even talks about a lawsuit inspired by the flick plus his “feud” with Robert Plant. This chatty commentary acts as a consistent delight.
In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc features a collection of 17 deleted scenes. Taken together, the scenes fill 25 minutes and 32 seconds. We see more exposition about the antagonism between the seniors and the rising freshmen, and there’s also a snippet that makes Benny look like a racist. There’s also some general chatter among various groups of girls as well as more at the movie-ending party.
We watch the kids steal the statues they turn into KISS and also deal with the aftermath of that incident. Extra character moments take the focus, as these flesh out some smaller roles to a degree. Only the clip where Benny complains about Asians really needed to get the boot, as it changed the tone of the film. The rest of the stuff seems decent but probably was cut for time and redundancy.
After this we move to Making Dazed, a 45-minute and 35-second documentary that premiered in 2005. It mixes archival elements, behind the scenes footage, and pieces from the film’s 2003 10-year cast and crew reunion. The new comments feature Linklater, producers James Jacks and Sean Daniel, casting director Don Phillips, and actors Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg, Ben Affleck, Anthony Rapp, Marissa Ribisi-Hansen, Jason London, Christin Hinojosa and Wiley Wiggins. We also see 1992 interview bits from Linklater and some of the actors.
The show looks at the genesis of Linklater’s story idea and how he got backing, the development of the script and battles with the studio, casting and characters. We also hear about the movie’s use of profanity, conflicts between Linklater and the producers, relationships among the actors and their activities during the shoot, production details and general notes. Finally, the piece covers post-production and test screenings, problems with distribution, the participants’ lives after the movie’s release, and the flick’s life as a cult classic.
Since Linklater covers so much during his commentary, it becomes inevitable that some redundant material appears here. Despite that, “Making” provides a solid overview of the movie. The extra participants expand our understanding of the various subjects and issues, and the whole thing moves at a brisk pace. “Making” tosses out lots of good details and turns into a fun, informative view of the flick.
Inside Auditions we get test footage for 12 actors. Viewed together via the “Play All” option, these take up 23 minutes, 19 seconds. We find clips for Michelle Burke, Rory Cochrane, Adam Goldberg, Cole Hauser, Christin Hinojosa, Nicky Katt, Jason London, Deena Martin, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Rapp, Marissa Ribisi, and Wiley Wiggins. These are all fun to see, especially since they show some of the actors as they try out for parts different than the ones they played. For instance, we watch Wiggins play Tony and London portray Mike. These are a nice addition to the product.
Under the banner of “Beer Bust at the Moon Tower”, we get a collection of elements. Character Interviews cover 13 of the movie’s roles., they fill 40 minutes and 32 seconds. Shot during the first week of rehearsals in 1992, these include the actors as they reflect on the roles they play. The respective performers discuss Sabrina, Don, Cynthia, Pink, Jodi, Mitch, Darla, Mike, O’Bannion, Benny, Tony, Ron and Shavonne. Actually, the “Don” and “Darla” segments feature the actors in character, while the others chat in a more third-person manner. These pieces offer a fascinating glimpse at the actors’ insights into their parts and are quite entertaining.
Cast and Director Interviews go for a total of 47 minutes and 40 seconds. These include Linklater, Posey, Affleck, Goldberg. Katt, Cochrane, Wiggins, Burke, Hinojosa, McConaughey, Phillips, and actors Catherine Morris and Christine Harnos. This batch of interviews comes almost entirely from the production period and often take place at interesting times. For instance, see Linklater the day before the start of principal photography, and we check in with Goldberg and Katt soon after they shot their fight sequence. While I like that we get a look at the film as a work in progress, the quality of the information isn’t exactly stellar. Despite the freshness of the takes, I don’t think we learn much in the way of useful details.
Finally, Behind-the-Scenes Footage runs 30 minutes and 39 seconds. We find rehearsals, driving practice, test shots of costume supervisor Isabelle Coulet in various outfits, publicity photo sessions, a glimpse of various drug-related props, clips from the different settings, some shots from the 10-year reunion, and more impromptu interviews from the set. Those last elements tend to be the least interesting. They’d make more sense back in the “Cast and Director Interviews” area, and they continue to lack much informative material.
I like the other pieces much more. The tour of the props is a lot of fun, and I enjoy the methods Coulet used to depict the various characters. These different components add up to a lot of good snippets from the flick’s creation.
This set also includes some paper materials. We get a replica of the movie’s poster and a 72-page book. The latter presents a chapter listing and a guide to the flick’s music, credits, and lots of photos. We also find essays from Film Comment’s Kent Jones, Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times, author Chuck Klosterman, and Texas Monthly writer John Spong. In addition, the book offers some notes Linklater had given to the cast and crew as well as “Profiles in Confusion”, surprisingly detailed biographies of 20 characters. The book features plenty of great insight and information and finishes the set on a high note.
Scads of movies have looked at the shenanigans of teenagers, so its focus doesn’t make Dazed and Confused special. What helps it stand out from the crowd? Its looseness, lack of artificial emphasis on plot, and its casual humor allow it to rise above the usual genre restrictions. The Blu-ray provides very nice picture, positive audio and an excellent roster of supplements. This becomes the definitive version of this likable flick.
To rate this film visit the Flashback Edition review of DAZED AND CONFUSED