If you are a Bertrand Tavernier fan, then this last month has been an exceptional time in physical media releases. It also reveals the broad offer that his work had and the power of music. ROUND MIDNIGHT charts the story of Dale Gordon (Dexter Gordon) is a jazz musician who has been fighting a battle with the bottle and the blower. The nightmare of alcohol somehow creates the heavenly sounds from his saxophone. When he meets someone who could be the saviour of his very soul, his musical passion is ignited and he re-kindles the spirit that he thought had left him.

If you know Tavernier and I expect that many of you do, then you will know and probably have seen or at the least heard, ROUND MIDNIGHT. The sounds of jazz notes, cigerettes smouldering and bottles clinking defuse throughout ROUND MIDNIGHT. But there is far more to this tender tale of self destruction and musical desire. This is among the directors greatest films. His ability to see the detail, in a journalistic way, actually benefits the whole story. Reflective as it is of the decline of an artist, it is done in a rather intimate way. One that doesnt linger on the painful loss of talent. Also this film is one that has been trotted out recently on the streaming networks.

What have Criterion offered to us in regards to ROUND MIDNIGHT that say others have failed to do so far? The 4K restoration is a delight from the HD offering from Amazon. Not their fault, old Bezos sticks with what he is offered. Criterions version has a sole issue mind. The screen feels cropped in places slightly. The frame squeezed a little. This appears in the bedroom scenes mainly and is one slightly noticeable! Bar this it looks beautiful and so I say well done Criterion on another solid release.

The extras waver between, good and ok. Panel discussion from 2014 is a highlight but around elsewhere in the same format and quality. The interview with jazz and cultural critic Gary Giddins, makes his interesting comments on Dexter and the Blue Note dull. Even though he and they are not. Mark Anthony Neal essay is excellent but again, available elsewhere. So you can enjoy exclusively 1969 of “Fried Bananas” by Dexter Gordon, directed by Teit Jørgensen. Its intense, if not a little long.


  • New 4K digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio
  • New interview with jazz and cultural critic Gary Giddins
  • New conversation with music producer Michael Cuscuna and author Maxine Gordon, widow of musician Dexter Gordon
  • Before Midnight, a 1986 behind-the-scenes documentary by Jean Achache
  • Panel discussion from 2014 featuring Cuscuna, Maxine Gordon, director Bertrand Tavernier, and jazz scholar John Szwed, moderated by jazz critic and broadcaster Mark Ruffin
  • Performance from 1969 of “Fried Bananas” by Dexter Gordon, directed by Teit Jørgensen
  • New English subtitle translation and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by scholar Mark Anthony Neal

    New cover by F. Ron Miller

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