Put five cinephiles in a room together and you’re unlikely to get them to agree on anything. One exception would have to be the Criterion Collection, which has been like catnip for film obsessives for so long it’s hard to imagine what our home-movie collections would be without them. Their monthly announcements of their upcoming blu-ray and DVD offerings are eagerly awaited, and yesterday’s slate didn’t disappoint. In addition to “A Touch of Zen,” “Muriel, or the Time of Return,” “Night and Fog,” “The In-Laws” and “Carnival of Souls,” Terrence Malick’s “The New World” will be coming to the collection this July. Malick’s account of the meeting between Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher) and John Smith (Colin Farrell) is the fourth of his films to be included, following “Days of Heaven,” “The Thin Red Line” and “Badlands.”
At this point, only three of his efforts are not in the Collection: “The Tree of Life,” “To the Wonder” and the just-released “Knight of Cups.” Most exciting among the many supplements is a 4K digital restoration of the 172-minute extended cut, which was supervised by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and Malick himself. “The New World” first premiered with a 150-minute cut that was shown during its limited run in New York and Los Angeles; it was then trimmed down to 135 minutes for wide release. This extended iteration, which first appeared on a 2008 DVD release, is considerably more fluid and coherent than the truncated version.
“A Touch of Zen” has been eagerly anticipated by Criterion enthusiasts as well. King Hu’s 1971 epic is perhaps the most celebrated wuxia film ever made, and this marks its first blu-ray release in the United States.
For more, watch the trailer for “A Touch of Zen:”