Director: Milos Forman
Cast: James Cagney, Brad Dourif, Moses Gunn
Release Date: November 16, 2021
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Disc Rating: 9/10
Layering fascinating characters with the riotous events of early 1900s America, the best-seller by E.L. Doctorow became a cinematic epic under the direction of two-time Oscar winning director Milos Forman. From the emerging New York suburb of New Rochelle to the flashy spectacle of Atlantic City, a family faces racial tensions, scandals and violence that will test everything they believe in.
Please Note: Paramount Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
You can also check out our reviews for the other releases in the ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray line by clicking on each title below!
Based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel, ‘Ragtime’ primarily follows a ragtime pianist and the rich, white family who he discovers took in his infant child and the mother after they were left for dead. Taking place in America during the early 1900’s and exploring the riotous events of that time through different perspectives of the pianist and this family as their lives are uprooted when racial tensions, scandals and violence begin to overtake their worlds in different ways. As each attempts to handle the trouble in their own way, one horrifying event will eventually lead to a revolution of sorts that will make them question everything they believe in and force them to decide whether to take a stand or sit idly by as the violence plays out.
The powerful 1981 drama ‘Ragtime’ arrives on Blu-ray newly remastered as the twenty-eighth entry in the ever-impressive Limited Edition ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray line which showcases various noteworthy films throughout the decades from Paramount’s expansive catalog with each featuring newly remastered video presentations, collectible packaging and extras. ‘Ragtime’ makes another tremendously welcome title to the ‘Paramount Presents’ line and this new Blu-ray release arrives home sporting a quite fantastic new high definition video presentation, complemented by a solid multichannel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack and some great extras including a second disc that features a real treat for fans of this one; a ‘Never Before-Released Director’s Cut Workprint’ of the film that runs nearly twenty minutes longer, along with some other nice bonus content that fans should enjoy. Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Milos Forman and featuring a star-studded cast that includes James Cagney, Brad Dourif, Moses Gunn, Elizabeth McGovern, Kenneth McMillan, Pat O’Brien, Donald O’Connor, James Olson, Mandy Patinkin, Howard E. Rollins, Jr., Mary Steenburgen, Debbie Allen, Jeff Daniels, Fran Drescher, Samuel L. Jackson, Norman Mailer, John Ratzenberger and more, ‘Ragtime’ still holds up as a powerful and uncompromising tale that may be somewhat jumbled and overstuffed at times but feels almost as timely today as it was forty years ago when initially released. And now fans can own this newly remastered Blu-ray release that brings the film back home looking and sounding better than ever before.
Overall, the ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray release of ‘Ragtime’ brings the 1981 drama directed by Milos Forman home in a wonderful new Blu-ray release that features a spectacular new high definition video presentation of the film, newly remastered from a 4k film transfer and further complemented by a highly capable multichannel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack which paired together offer a magnificent presentation of this cinematic classic that almost surely look and sound better than it ever has prior. This new Blu-ray release of ‘Ragtime’ is highly recommended for fans who haven’t already purchased their copy. In addition to the high quality presentation and collectible packaging, many dedicated fans probably won’t want to miss out on the never before released workprint of the film included on a second disc within which alone might just make this a must own.
The ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray release of ‘Ragtime’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation of the film with its original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio, newly remastered from a new 4K film transfer for its 40th anniversary. This newly remastered video presentation is another winner for the ‘Paramount Presents’ line and offers a clean, smooth and beautifully detailed presentation from start to finish. It retains a nice grain level along with other welcome artifacts representative of its film source, and never suffers from any unexpected problems or issues along the way, even during the various darkly lit and heavily populated sequences throughout. Overall, this is a wonderful and source faithful high definition video presentation that should easily thrill fans of this powerful classic.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack does its job quite well and provides an altogether clean, smooth and well balanced audio presentation throughout. Even while technically a multichannel soundtrack, this TrueHD presentation is unsurprisingly front heavy for the most part, with the majority of dialogue and other key elements always clean and fully audible while largely confined to the center channel with a few effects seeping into the other front speakers on occasion; something that might slightly disappoint some folks, although is a fairly logical decision when considering it’s probably quite on par with the original theatrical audio presentation. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that may not be overly immersive or exciting but definitely delivers in every way required of it.
The ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray release of ‘Ragtime’ features the standard collectible packaging included on all of the Limited Edition ‘Paramount Presents’ releases complete with a slipcase that unfolds to showcase a large version of the original theatrical poster, plus photos on the inside slip of the interior Blu-ray case (you can view a beauty shot of the release’s artwork from the studio included at the bottom of this review for a look inside). The discs themselves also include some noteworthy extras that fans should thoroughly appreciate. Most notably is a second Blu-ray disc that features a ‘Never Before-Released Director’s Cut Workprint Of the Film’ which runs 2 hours, 54 minutes and is nearly twenty minutes longer than the Theatrical cut with quite a bit of new footage. The workprint cut is naturally a lower quality presentation and features some black and white scenes and other noticeable differences in the presentation but it’s also easily watchable. The main disc of the release also includes some other nice extras including an ‘Audio Commentary by Director Milos Forman and Executive Producer Michael Hausman’, along with 2 New Extras including numerous ‘Deleted and Extended Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 17 minutes altogether) and ‘Ragtime Revisited: A Conversation with Larry Karaszewski and screenwriter Michael Weller on Ragtime’ (running approximately 21 minutes). Also featured are a couple of ‘Legacy’ extras including one other ‘Deleted Scene’ (approximately10 minutes) and ‘Remembering Ragtime’ (approximately 18 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Disc Rating: 9/10
‘Ragtime’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray; Newly Remastered as part of the ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray line from Paramount Home Entertainment
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