Blood Simple, Blu-ray (1984/2011)

by | Sep 17, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Blood Simple, Blu-ray (1984/2011)
Directors: The Coen Brothers
Starring: John Getz, Dan Hedaya, Frances McDormand, M. Emmett Walsh
Studio: MGM [8/30/11]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 color 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Extras: Commentary track by Kenneth Loring of Forever Young Films, Theatrical trailer
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: ****½
The very first Coen Brothers film, and the first appearance of the versatile Frances McDormand in their films was a grisly semi-comic film noir. A bar owner in Texas hires a seedy private eye to killer his cheating wife and her lover—who works for him. The detective fakes photos of the dead wife and lover to show the bar owner to get this $10,000, and the viewer feels good that nobody got killed. But then things turn much, much worse and the lover does totally inappropriate things, such as burying someone alive. (Joel Coen had just co-edited Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead.) The concluding scenes pile one shock on top of another, in a highly unconventional take on the usual film noir. Blood Simple showed the Coen Brothers were starting on a very exciting career of filmmaking with a bang. Several bangs, actually. Roger Ebert calls it one of the best of modern films noir.
The cinematography is gorgeous and makes very artistic use of the wide screen. Some of the earlier VHS and DVDs were pan and scan, which would be terrible for this film. The way the events and action are presented adds to the psychological effect on the viewer. Some really awful violence is suggested at one point but then doesn’t occur, adding to the effect. Pop music hits used on the soundtrack are most interesting, but what stood out for me was the Coens’ use of the Balinese Ketchack Dance for a violent scene when the bar owner is brutalizing his wife. Totally different from the pop music on the rest of the track, but highly effective for the scene. This restoration Directors’ Cut is actually cut down from the original theatrical film, with some of the supposedly draggy scenes cut shorter and some entire bits edited out. I would have liked a short interview in the extras with the Coen Brothers about the film, as on some of their other film DVDs.
—John Sunier

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