This new transfer, using a 35mm negative from the Raymond Rohauer Collection, adds a few nice touches to the film. It runs almost a minute longer than the old DVD, but this may be only due to differences in film speed as I noticed nothing new.
MORE PICTURE has been added to all sides! The old DVD is heavily cropped! Look at the very first scene, on the Blu-ray: at the top you can see the wall above the windows (cropped off on the old DVD), and at the bottom there is a second white lined rug (cropped off of the old DVD). To the right you can see some empty seats behind the man sitting (the old DVD the frame ends at the back of the occupied chair). To the left you can see decor of an old radio (on the old DVD cuts off at the corner of the radio).
The old DVD is slightly "window-boxed" putting black bars on all 4 sides of the picture. This new Blu-ray is full frame (wide-screen TVs will have black bars on the sides to make a square picture). There are a few occasions during the first 10 minutes in which you can now see film sprocket holes on the right side. The MGM logo at the beginning now has visible film sprocket holes on the left side. Different film sources must have been used for the master negative and now with more visible picture on the Blu-ray these brief imperfections are now visible. But this is only during the first 10 minutes, and I appreciate seeing more of the original picture.
The old DVD does not mention what the film source is but I suspect it is an archival positive made from a 35mm negative. There are brief black scratch lines, these scratches are characteristic of positive print scratches. The new Blu-ray has no black lines and it states that it is mastered in Hi-Definition from a 35mm NEGATIVE, which puts it one generation closer to the original camera films.
COLOR TINTS have now been added to the previously B&W picture. The original color tinting log has been found and the tints have been re-created based on this information. Basically light Amber for most shots, Blue for the night scenes, and Green for the underwater scenes. This does add to the enjoyment of the movie, and it was intended to be seen this way.
IMAGE STABILIZATION has also been used to compensate for negative shrinkage, removing major image jitter. The original DVD titles seemed to jump while you were reading them. This is not say that the image is unnaturally rock steady, there is still some sway here & there.
As far as clarity, the increased 1080p definition removes the compression artifacting & blocking present in the old DVD. However the actual film sharpness seems to be pretty similar between Blu-ray and DVD. However, I did notice a problem in the old DVD during exterior shots of the floating boat, the lines of the boat disappear and reappear as if some DNR had been used! This does NOT happen on the new Blu-ray transfer. It is very annoying in the old DVD.
There is no "The End" on the new Blu-ray transfer, it just goes to the restoration credits, the old DVD had a plain white lettering "The End" over a black background, probably not original.
----The Movie Review----
The Navigator plays our more like Buster's old comedy shorts. What ever storyline there is gets thrown out after the first 10 minutes. The plot of two countries after the same boat is just the reason to get Buster and his girlfriend trapped on a runaway boat. The rest is pure Buster Keaton antics, told mostly without any dialogue cards. Some of the gags are re-hashed from Busters older short comedies, this may remove some of the freshness to this film, but they still bring a smile to the face of fans. If you have not seen the shorts before watching this, they will bring about laughs.
One complaint I might have about the film is that it may go on a little too long at 60 minutes. I don't want to go into spoilers by going into more detail about this. It is not a bad film, just maybe 5 minutes longer than it should be.
And at only 60 minutes long, customers may feel cheated for spending so much for such a short film.
----BONUS MATERIAL NEW TO THIS RELEASE----
THE MAKING OF THE NAVIGATOR and Keaton's Fascination With Boats as Sources of Comedy: a featurette by film historian Bruce Lawton. (8:50)
Audio recording of "Asleep In The Deep" by Wilfred Glenn (1931) (which was referenced in the movie). You can hear the actual song that was playing on the phonograph in the movie. Great addition!!!
Audio Commentary by silent film historians Robert Arkus and Yair Solan.
The old DVD did not have these but did include two comedy shorts now found on the Buster Keaton Comedy Short Blu-ray collection Buster Keaton Short Films Collection: 1920-1923 (Three-Disc Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray], THE BOAT and THE LOVE NEST. Since this film is so short, It would have been nice to have these presented again on the same disc to compare the boat humor. But that is just a small quibble, none of the other new Blu-ray releases include the shorts that were on the original DVDs.
The music track appears to be the same on both releases and Robert Israel gets credit. However the music has been re-mastered in DTS-HD 5.1 as well as 2.0 stereo. Even the 2.0 sounds crisper than the old compressed DVD audio.
I do not own the new re-mastered DVD version but I assume it is from the same new video master. However there may be compression issues.
Is this worth buying again for the upgrade? I like the new color tints and increased visible picture, so I say YES!