Two days ago (5.4) on Home Theatre Forum, restoration guru Robert Harris gave a failing grade to Paramount Home Video’s 4K UHD Bluray of John Ford‘s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (’62).

“While much of the home theater crowd is probably going to love what Paramount has done here, I’m hating everything that I’m seeing. The image is very clean and stable. Beautiful black & white, and [in some ways] reminiscent of the way that it looked on film.

“And yet this isn’t film, and looks nothing like it, even though with 4k UHD we’re able to get closer to and not further away from the real thing.

William H. Clothier‘s cinematography “has been totally de-grained, making it look like some sort of low-end data, and then smeared with video noise in an apparent nod toward those who desire that ‘film’ look.

“But here’s the rub. It’s not just that the image has been de-grained, but either somewhere in the de-graining or digital clean-up, swirling patterns of amoebae have been rendered in skies and neutral areas, and they swim about, presumably having fun.”

HE comment: I’m presuming that these “swirling patterns of amoeba” are roughly similar to the digital grainstorm effect (i.e., swarms of digital Egyptian mosquitoes) that I’ve been complaining about for years.

Back to Harris: “Sometimes the noise appears almost normal. Almost believable. Sometimes it goes away entirely, and is fully grainless. Sometimes it turns into them swirling creatures.

“The legend is that Paramount is capable of doing beautiful restoration work. I’m thinking back to the work from the likes of Ron Smith. I no longer believe it, but what the heck…’Print the legend.’ Upgrade from Blu-ray? Absolutely not. An unfortunate rendering, except for those who don’t like the look of cinema.”