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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

A Dazed and Confused Upgrade

Director Richard Linklater’s 1993 film “Dazed and Confused” has gone from a beloved cult classic to a beloved American classic. The film which was Linklater’s first work with a major studio and second film overall is also noted for the number of future stars the cast is stacked with, most notably a very young Mathew McConaughey.

Set on the last day of high school in 1976, the movie is a “slice of life” on the day of the graduating teens and the soon-to-be freshmen. Linklater said he wanted the movie, which doesn’t have a major plot line running through it, to feel as if he just dropped a camera into these characters’ lives on that last day as we follow them for a 24-hour cycle. Among the, then, new faces in the cast are Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, and Adam Goldberg.

The film does a great job showing off a slice of high school life, so much so that I sometimes have a hard time watching this movie as I truly despited high school with a burning passion. So many of the archetypes of high school are so successfully portrayed in this movie that it filled me with flashbacks of that time, and memories that I’d rather not have floating around in my grey matter.

One of the best aspects of the film is the amazing soundtrack filled with rock music of the 1970s, allegedly most of the movie’s budget was spent on clearing the expensive songs, something Linklater was very passionate about. But it adds to the feel and vibe of the time in a way that feels authentic.

As “Dazed and Confused” became beloved on home video, Universal has released it several times on DVD and blu-ray, and those titans of home video, The Criterion Collection, have released the film twice. First on DVD in 2006, then again on blu-ray in 2011. They’ve now revisited the title yet again as a 4K UHD blu-ray, something they’ve been doing with some of their titles since they began releasing 4K discs in 2021.

Criterion’s 4K release of “Dazed and Confused” is a combo edition featuring the new 4K disc and a copy of the 2011 blu-ray, there’s nothing new on that blu-ray disc, so if you own it you’re not missing out on any new features. The only new feature is the 4K disc, which only has the movie and the Linklater commentary track from 2006.

The new 4K digital restoration is of Linklater’s director’s cut. The 35mm camera negative was scanned as the source for this 4K disc, using the 2011 blu-ray’s scan of the color graded interpolative as a guide for the color on the restoration. This remaster is presented in Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range and was supervised and approved by Richard Linklater.

The film’s music-rich soundtrack is presented as a lossless, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound mix. This mix was remastered from the original 35mm magnetic audio masters. The film looks amazing. With a light touch of grain and good strong color, as with the best of 4K blu-ray presentations, the film looks shockingly like you’re seeing a projected 35mm film image in your own home.

The audio is clear and sharp, and when those great period songs kick in the surround speakers come to life and it makes for a lively soundstage, that never overpowers the dialogue in the center speaker. For fans of this movie, this is easily the definitive home video release of the film and is a must-own.

All the bonus features in this 4K are identical to previous editions of the film from Criterion. The extras can all be accessed on the enclosed blu-ray. These include a making-of documentary on the movie, on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, audition footage, deleted scenes, and the trailer. A large booklet is included featuring essays and cast interviews.

“Dazed and Confused” is one of Richard Linklater’s most beloved movies, and this new 4K UHD edition from The Criterion Collection is a must-own for fans of the film. Very highly recommended. See you next week.


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