Fans will be reasonably happy with this bluray release of "Jeremiah Johnson" (1972) without going overboard. Despite the evident lack of any restoration, a visual improvement is noticeable over the DVD format with sharper resolution and generally superior colour.
The film is a good choice for upgrading to High Definition in terms of both setting and subject matter. Locations in Utah double for the Rockies in this tale of a nineteenth century mountain man (Robert Redford) struggling to survive in a punishing environment. Drawn into a world of towering peaks, desolate snowfields and pine forests, we follow the character from his rejection of urban society through a series of testing challenges to carve out a life in the wilderness. Watch for the irony of "civilization" reaching out when Johnson feels compelled to violate a Crow burial ground while guiding cavalry to rescue stranded settlers. The decision and its consequences are a pivotal moment.
As the film is partly a study in solitude some scenes contain minimal dialogue and these serve to underline a real strength of Redford's craft. It is that of being not so much an actor as a "reactor" in the way events and people are reflected on his face, perhaps best demonstrated here in the episode where Johnson grieves while his horse moves restlessly outside.
Supporting actors, Will Geer as the wily old trapper Bear Claw and Stefan Gierasch playing Del Gue ("...with an E"), are a delight and it's almost worth watching the movie for them alone.
The project was a favorite of Redford's, one which became a labour of love for him and director Sydney Pollack who even mortgaged his home at one point to help finance it. They provide a commentary on the bluay edition along with writer John Milius.