|Monty Python's Life of Brian (Columbia Tristar)||R1|
There have been numerous releases of this film on DVD. A previous R4 version was released by Rainbow as a pan-and-scan transfer, so this can be safely relegated to the DVD dustbin of history. In fact, you can thwow it to the gwound.
The UK Region 2 release is identical to the Region 4. This Region 2 release seems to be the same throughout Europe
The first US Region 1 release was from Anchor Bay, and featured a transfer from a video master which was not 16x9 enhanced. I think we can rule this out.
The second US Region 1 release was from Criterion. I have a copy of this release and so I can do a direct comparison with the Region 4. A comparison of the two is not straightforward. Both are 16x9 enhanced but appear to come from different source material. The Criterion has a reddish tint to the video, and looks less realistic than the Region 4 in terms of colour. A good comparison is the marble columns in Pilate's palace, which are bony white on the Region 4 and slightly pinkish on the Criterion. The Criterion also has a lot of film artefacts, but the Region 4 seems to be slightly cropped at the bottom of the frame. The Criterion also has some edge enhancement, but if pressed I would think it has a little less than the Region 4. The audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0.
The Criterion wins on the extras side of things. It has the same BBC documentary, although the print used by Criterion has a lot more film artefacts and is less sharp and clear. There are two audio commentaries. The first has Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle, the second John Cleese and Michael Palin. In each case each participant's comments were recorded separately.
Added to this are five deleted scenes found on a working tape by Terry Jones, each of which has an optional audio commentary by Jones or Eric Idle. There are four radio spots and the same trailer that appears on the Region 4 disc, although here it is not 16x9 enhanced.
My verdict on the comparison is that I will have to keep both versions. Because of the additional extras, I would have to recommend the Criterion, but anyone would be well satisfied with the new Region 4.