Singin' in the Rain

We find out why Warner's sensational new 4K restoration will leave fans dancing with joy

Originally conceived by producer Arthur Freed as a way of re-using MGM’s existing catalogue of songs, Singin’ in the Rain still stands as the best musical Hollywood ever. That it’s also the funniest and most insightful movie about filmmaking ever made (and tackles the subject of the transition from silent films to talkies with more panache than The Artist) is why it rates as one of my favourite films. So this new Blu-ray has it’s work cut out trying to impress me…

Picture: Warner Bros. has achieved nothing short of a miracle with this new 4K restoration, although this fact might be lost on people expecting something as visually spectacular as its earlier work on titles like Ben-Hur.

The problem with Singin’ in the Rain was always the loss of the original negatives, which were destroyed in a fire in the late ‘70s. Because of this, the restoration team has had to work from a variety of elements for this latest incarnation, some several generations away from the original negatives. Couple this with the inherent soft look of the film and the mis-registration issues typical of three-strip Technicolor film and you had a recipe for disaster.

And yet, there’s a remarkable visual continuity throughout this AVC 1.33:1 1080p encode that simply boggles the mind. Colours are particularly striking throughout and there’s not a trace of print damage to be seen. Given what they had to work with, it’s impossible to think the film will ever look any better than this.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: While its a shame that there’s no sign of the original audio mix in either ‘lossy’ or ‘lossless’ form, I really couldn’t be happier with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Extremely respectful to the original elements, this multichannel presentation makes subtle use of the surrounds to draw you into the musical numbers while prioritising the sensational musicality and vocalisations present across the front of the mix. Utterly magnificent.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: Sadly, this single-disc Blu-ray release isn’t the all-singing, all-dancing spectacular fans might expect when it comes to bonus features.

The only extras salvaged from the old Two-Disc Special Edition DVD are the audio commentary and trailer. These are joined by a programmable Jukebox feature linking to the songs in the film and a new 51-min retrospective documentary entitled Singin’ in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation that explores the film’s impact on today’s musicians, choreographers and directors.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: Ignore the meagre extras and savour the great restoration

Warner Home Video, All-region BD /R2 DVD, £12 Approx, On sale now