3 Women [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English LPCM 1.0
- Subtitles: N/A
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: PG
- Run Time: 124 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Criterion Collection
- Blu-ray Release Date: September 13, 2011
- List Price: $39.95
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Robert Altman’s 1977 film 3 Women defies explanation. In fact, the film really needs several viewings to really seep into one’s consciousness. Altman dreamed up the idea of the film during a restless night as his wife lay seriously ill in the hospital. Somehow convincing the studio to allow him to shoot the film with no script, which he would intentionally improvise along the way, 3 Women would turn into an exploration of character and self, with Shelley Duval and Sissy Spacek as its stars.
Pinky (Spacek) is a mousy teenaged girl from Texas who moves to a desert town in California to work at an elderly rehabilitation spa. There she immediately takes to the spa’s employee Millie (Duvall), an extroverted, sexually aggressive woman who is in a sort of stunted adolescence. The two become friends and roommates, hanging around an out of the way bar together with a third woman, the pregnant muralist Willie (Janice Rule) and her has-been stuntman husband Edgar (Robert Fortier). Pinky’s obsession with Millie grows until it reaches a climactic shift in their relationship when Millie has an affair with Edgar. To explain further would be giving away far too much, but lets say that in the end the three women of the title end up leaving their former lives behind to form a new, odd family unit and friendship that they could not find with their previous selves.
Altman uses his signature lens techniques in 3 Women to capture a desolate and desperate feeling, heightened by the starkness of the desert and the bleached look of the color palette. His quick cuts, close-ups and lingering pans evoke the dream-like state from which the story was born. 3 Women may not be one of his most commercially well known, but it is worth watching for its creative treatment of the cinematic oeuvre.
‘This high definition digital transfer of 3 Women was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS system, while Digital Vision’s DVNR system was used for small dirts, grain, and noise reduction.’
The film arrives in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement from the Criterion Collection. While the transfer does look rather film-like with a nice layer of grain, it seems to be lacking in high frequency information, tending towards softness overall, perhaps from the original film stock, and grain is rather heavy at times. There are some instances of source damage such as scratches and tramlines popping up here and there as well, but nothing overwhelming. I didn’t notice any sort of video noise or edge enhancement.
‘The monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original 35mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube’s integrated workstation.’
The soundtrack is provided on this Blu-ray Disc from Criterion Collection as LPCM 1.0 (48kHz/24-bit). As far as monaural soundtracks go, this one is really very good. It doesn’t seem to have many of the limitations of its time, as in there is no crackle apparent in dialogue. There’s good dynamic range and a surprising amount of lows.
This release is very thin on supplements when compared to the usual Criterion Collection release. The disc itself contains only a some trailers and TV spots alongside a stills gallery of production photos as its only visual extras. The audio commentary with Altman, however, is superb. Altman expounds on his everything from his thought processes during the creation of 3 Women to the first film that made him see film as true art form, Brief Encounter. The booklet is rather thin, however, for a Criterion release, being a simple single sheet foldout with one essay on the film by David Sterritt, Chairman of the National Society of Film Critics.
- Audio commentary featuring Robert Altman recorded for the Criterion Collection in New York in 2003.
- Stills Gallery (1080p/24)
- Theatrical Teaser Trailer (2.35:1; 1080i/60)
- Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080i/60)
- TV Spot 1 (1.33:1; 1080i/60)
- TV Spot 2 (1.33:1; 1080i/60)
- Booklet: Essay, “Dream Project”, by David Sterrit, film credits and information on the transfer.
The Definitive Word
3 Women is a journey back to the days when American cinema still had a sense of adventure and creativity, when Hollywood wasn’t yet completely ruled by the mindless moneymaking box office hit. Although it is a difficult film, a few viewings should yield very satisfying results, especially in this fine Criterion incarnation on Blu-ray.
Additional Screen Captures