Considering how popular the Coen Brothers are, it’s astonishing that the director’s cut of their first film (directed by Joel, written by both), Blood Simple, has taken this long to get a DVD release over here. And for people who want their films presented properly, it’s in widescreen (unlike that ghastly Universal release from over a decade ago).
This edition, courtesy of StudioCanal, the most exciting European film distributor working today, does the film justice. The transfer is good, the sound far better than in previous editions, and the movie is the definitive version. Saying that, it isn’t incredibly different from the original. I’ll leave it up for Coen-Brother-lovers to pick apart which shots are that little bit longer or shorter.
The story is, in some ways, reminiscent of their later film Fargo. A bar owner (Dan Hedaya) hires a man (M Emmet Walsh) to kill his wife (Francis McDormand). This being a Coen Brothers movie, not everything goes according to plan. The film then trundles – no, gallops – along, evolving into an intelligent, suspenseful melodramatic crime movie. It’s dark, snappy and wonderfully watchable.
Blu-ray buyers will be disappointed, sadly, as this is a standard definition only release. But considering how long it’s been since this title was widely available in any format, it’s certainly a good thing seeing it get a good disc outing, even if it is only DVD.
Blood Simple (1984), directed by Joel Coen,is released on DVD in the UK by StudioCanal, Certificate 15.