The Fisher King (Criterion Collection) Blu-ray review

A melting pot of mythology, romance, tragedy, social commentary and comedy, this 1991 film stars Jeff Bridges as cynical New York City radio shock-jock Jack Lucas, whose life falls apart when an unstable listener takes his latest hate-filled rant to heart and goes on a killing spree.

Wandering the city at night in a drunken stupor, Jack is attacked by a couple of thugs. His salvation arrives in the form of Parry (Robin Williams), a deluded and homeless former academic on a quest to find the Holy Grail. When Jack discovers that Parry's wife was killed in the shooting he inadvertently caused, he sets about helping the man in the hope of making amends for his past deeds.

Burdened with a few too many ideas and shifts in tone, The Fisher King is nonetheless another success for director Terry Gilliam and ranks alongside 12 Monkeys as the most accessible of his films. While there are still flashes of the offbeat and grotesque elements that haunt all of his movies, Gilliam reins them in here to work in service of the story and the emotions the film is dealing with, rather than overwhelming it.

And at the heart of it all are two fantastic lead performances; with the late Robin Williams doing some of the very best work of his career.

Picture: Based on a 2K scan of a 35mm interpositive and approved by the director, Criterion's Blu-ray presentation of The Fisher King is very impressive for the most part. There's an authentically film-like appearance to the 1.78:1 Full HD encode that includes a clearly defined layer of film grain. Clarity and colour reproduction are also very good. It's held back from perfection, however, by a few instances of what appears to be compression-related blocking.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: Remastered in 24-bit from the original 35mm six-track magnetic tracks, The Fisher King's modest DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack doesn't offer too much in the way of immersive effects, instead crafting a lively front-end with plenty of movement across the stereo spread – all backed up by some effective low-end weight. Meanwhile, dialogue and music are perfectly balanced in the mix.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: Goodies include a director's commentary (recorded in 1991 for the Criterion Laserdisc); a new two-part Making of… documentary; deleted scenes; a look at making the film's Red Knight; Jeff Bridges' on-set photos; an archival interview with Williams; costume tests; rehearsal footage; and trailers.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: A delightful Blu-ray outing for Terry Gilliam's unexpectedly affecting modern fairy tale.

The Fisher King, Criterion Collection, Region B BD, £28