TV Party Tonight! #108

TV Party Tonight! #108

Monday, 11 April 2022

Reds – 40th Anniversary Edition

Is Reds the greatest longest movie of all time? Better than Apocalypse Now! Redux? I’m looking at the AFI Top 100 movies of all time and I think Lawrence of Arabia is the longest at 3 hours 42 minutes. That movie’s good. It’s fine. It’s just too long, you know? There are too many long shots of the desert, which I’m sure was a technical achievement at the time, but unlike that movie, Reds just flow. It evolves as it progresses. At 3 hours 20 minutes, it really plays like a whole season of well-written TV. The characters, the settings, the stakes all change. You truly see the characters grow. I can’t imagine what an extended version of Reds would be like, but I would LOVE to see it.

OK, so what’s Reds about? It’s about John Reed and Louise Bryant (who were lefty journalists in the early 1900s) and their lives together as activists and journalists first in the US right before World War I, then as eye-witnesses during the Russian Revolution. Reed is already an established and revered journalist, and Bryant is trying to find herself. She is stubborn and Reed is cocky, and as they get involved, they learn to grow together during some of the most incredible evens in human history. Bryant finds fulfillment in her work and learns that compromise is important for her to be a successful journalist, and Reed learns that he might have become ungrounded and idealistic to a dangerous degree. Both these characters learn to grow as fully realized (and hopefully better) people while a revolution is going on. And they do so while people like Emma Goldman, Grigor Zinoviev, and Max Eastman drop in. Bananas…

By the way, did I mention these are real historical figures?

I somehow forgot about all the eye witnesses that talk about what Reed and Bryant were like as people, and even some of the gossip that surrounded them. We come back to them often as Warren Beaty uses these various individuals both as a way to fill in the gaps for the audience or as comedy fodder when things get too serious.

Surprisingly, Reds has been overlooked for years and has finally been restored for its 40th Anniversary. To say the movie has needed a clean-up is quite the understatement. This blu-ray reissue (what? no 4K!?) beautifully restores the movie with cleaner, crisper, and more vibrant footage. The sound has also been restored in 5.1 lossless surround sound, but quite honestly, I’d have to hear the two soundtracks side by side to know the difference. Reds never quite had a soundtrack that pops, and I don’t think it’s the kind of movie that would benefit from something like that. This edition also includes featurettes on the eye witnesses, the Russian revolution and other historical elements. It’s all a great package.

Reds is an underrated behemoth of a movie that is engaging, sweet, relatable (if you can believe it), and tragic. It’s about human growth in the midst of fantastical events and the joys of love. This 40th Anniversary edition is a beautiful way to revisit this lost gem, at least until a proper 4K version comes along. Go get it!

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