Critic’s Choice: Orson Welles’ ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ glows on Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

Film Critic

In the year that finally brought the release of Orson Welles’ long-delayed, posthumously completed “The Other Side of the Wind,” it’s only fitting that Criterion Collection has issued a new edition of “The Magnificent Ambersons” (1942).

Adapted from Booth Tarkington’s novel about the fall of a 20th-century family, and superbly acted by an ensemble including Joseph Cotten, Anne Baxter and the incomparable Agnes Moorehead, Welles’ second feature remains one of the great ravaged masterpieces of American cinema. Even shorn of more than 40 never-recovered minutes, the movie’s brilliance is self-evident: In many respects, its visual language — the deep-focus tracking shots, the rich expressionist shadows — feels like a sophistication of what the great director had already accomplished with “Citizen Kane” a year earlier.

The Blu-ray/DVD edition includes a new 4K digital restoration of the film and a wealth of supplemental essays and interviews.


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