Sophie's Choice [Blu-Ray] Alan J. Pakula

Sophie's Choice [Blu-Ray] Alan J. Pakula
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Based on the acclaimed novel by William Styron, Sophie's Choice marks the feature film debut of Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda) and stars a young Meryl Streep, who earned an well-deserved Oscar for playing the title role of a Polish Catholic who settles in Brooklyn after World War II, but remains haunted by a fateful choice she made at the death camps. Sophie endures a relationship with the volatile Nathan (Kline), an American Jew who suffers a guilt complex over the Holocaust.

The film (and novel) are told by Stingo (Peter MacNicol), a naïve Southerner who journeys to New York to write the Great American Novel and learn about life. "Unacquainted with love and a stranger to death," he says. At 157 minutes, Sophie's Choice may feel long for today's audiences, but patient viewers will be rewarded with a haunting ending (no spoilers here).

The transfer to Blu-ray features a crisp mono soundtrack and a decent picture, though it betrays imperfections, including light scratches and dirt found on the original film negative. Unfortunately, a costly frame-by-frame restoration was not undertaken to enhance Nestor Alemendros' beautiful cinematography.

This Blu-ray/DVD package offers a new 45-minute roundtable chat hosted by Pakula's former agent Boaty Boatwright and features Streep, Kline, Styron's widow Rose, Pakula's widow Hannah and Pakula's executive assistant/producer Donald Laventhall. They offer many anecdotes and tidbits of information, most notably Kline's leap from the Broadway musical, The Pirates of Penzance, to his movie debut.

The roundtable nearly makes up for the puzzling omission of the 50-minute documentary that was found on the 1998 DVD, featuring some of the folks here. However, Pakula's audio commentary, albeit an inconsistent one, is carried over from the DVD. He offers impassioned insights about casting, shooting and financing. Despite winning the best director Oscar for 1976's All The President's Men, Pakula had to battle to keep shooting on a limited budget.

Though an imperfect package, Sophie's Choice has finally made its long-overdue appearance on Blu-Ray.

(Shout! Factory)