We want the finest comedy available to humanity on BD! We want it here, and we want it now!
Writer-director Bruce Robinson's cult favourite film follows two 'resting' actors (Richard E. Grant's Withnail and Paul McGann's I) as they endure a 'holiday by mistake' in the countryside at the fag-end of the 1960s.
As far as plot goes, that's about your lot. But it really doesn't matter, as Robinson merely uses it as the backdrop to an endlessly quotable, bitingly funny and tear-jerkingly sad study of two unforgettable characters – one made all the more enjoyable thanks to career-best performances from those involved.
Picture: This release marks the third time that Withnail and I has been issued on Blu-ray in the UK, but the first where it has been treated with respect. Unlike the heavily flawed 2009 Anchor Bay and 2011 StudioCanal platters, this release is based on a brand-new 2K restoration of the original negative undertaken by Arrow, with final grading supervised by director of photography Peter Hannan.
Colour reproduction, clarity, stability and detailing are all vastly improved over the two previous discs, lending the AVC-encoded 1.85:1 1080p visuals a depth and nuance that no previous home release has captured. And unlike the earlier DNR'd encodes, there's also plenty of well-resolved grain present throughout the transfer, just as there should be.
Picture rating: 4.5/5
Audio: Given Withnail and I's almost singular focus on dialogue and the lacklustre nature of the DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix that appeared on the earlier Anchor Bay Blu-ray, we seriously doubt that anybody will be upset at its absence here.
Instead, we get a restored LPCM presentation of the film's original mono mix. The all-important dialogue sounds absolutely pitch-perfect, while the use of tracks like All Along the Watchtower and While My Guitar Gently Weeps give the soundtrack a chance to stretch its dynamic range a little further than you might expect.
Audio rating: 3.5/5
Extras: Arrow's Withnail and I disc comes loaded with fascinating extras. There's a commentary by Bruce Robinson; a second chat-track by critic Kevin Jackson; four documentaries from Channel 4's 1999 'Withnail Weekend' (these deal with the making of the film, Bruce Robinson's career, the drinking game that developed around the movie, and fans attending an open-air screening); an appreciation of the film by Peep Show creator Sam Bain; an interview with production designer Michael Pickwoad; and the original trailer.
Of course, by itself this wouldn't justify the large box this limited edition arrives in – or the £50 price tag it commands. Which is why Arrow has also included a 200-page book featuring essays about Withnail and I and its creators, contemporary reviews and script extracts for deleted scenes.
Still not enough for you? You also get a Blu-ray copy of Robinson's fascinating and even angrier follow-up feature How to Get Ahead in Advertising, which has been treated to a superb 2K restoration and is accompanied by another interview with Michael Pickwoad and the trailer.
Extras rating: 4.5/5
We say: It may be a little pricey, but this wonderful Blu-ray boxset is ultimately worth every penny
Withnail and I: Limited Edition Boxset, Arrow Video, Region B BD & R2 DVD, £50 Approx
HCC VERDICT: 5/5
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