The Way We Were (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

During post-WWII McCarthyism, a diametrically opposed couple come together only to find out that genuine friendship and physical attraction is not enough to overcome fundamental societal beliefs.

October 18, 2023 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

The Way We Werehas always been a film I’m aware of, but never sat down to watch. The film’s 50th anniversary is here, so what better time than now to watch it? Ultimately, my review hardly matters for those who’ve seen the film and simply want it in the 4K format. Maybe you’ve just now discovered it like me, but either way, it’s a widely known film amongst its target audience. I don’t see myself revisiting it, but to each their own as I say. Having this now on the 4K format with two cuts of the film is certainly enticing for fans as well.

The film spans about 15 years from the late 1930’s to the early 1950’s. Politics plays a big part here, but it’s also the relationship between Katie Morosky (Barabara Streisand) and Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford). She works as a radio broadcaster, and she meets Hubbell who is a sailor. The two of them shared a class together in college, and it’s clear that they will have more than a few moments together. The film jumps back and forth with its timeline and shows us the earlier days between these two characters before returning to the present time. Since the present time is set during World War II, this plays into a lot of the feelings that the film evokes from its characters. Katie is clearly the more outspoken of the two, whereas Hubbell is more laidback and doesn’t seem too bothered by anything. And so, the film goes about, following these two people who clearly don’t belong together, but continually put themselves in one another’s presence. I will admit that in some way I couldn’t help but wonder what Katie would say or do next. Even if that meant me not being particularly comfortable with the way she acts. I’m sure we’ve all met someone like her to at least some extent in our lives. I often try to avoid people who are rather extreme in their personalities whether I agree with their stance or not. But Streisand at least commands this performance, as does Redford even if he is the less flashy of the two.

By now, most people know if this film is their cup of tea or not. I for one found it just moderately engaging. The repetition began to get to me after a while. Once you realize the film’s formula you start to see it. These two people will go out, Katie will say something that makes a scene, Hubbell will try to calm her down. Rinse. Repeat. The film throws in the culture at the time with politics, but it’s very much a love story at heart, and one that started to chip away at me after a while. Certainly, these are two very talented stars, but I personally didn’t think they belonged together. While the film is dated half a century later, the very nature of politics continually dividing us is certainly still a thing. It’s just that as an almost 2-hour film I had enough long before the closing credits.

Video: How’s it look?

The new 4K transfer looked quite nice to my eyes. I know some harsher critics look for things more than I do, but the image seemed natural and free of too much tampering. This viewing did mark the first time I viewed the film, so I can’t say of it is true to the intended look. What I can say is that it remained pleasing and full of little details that were easy on the eyes. The image is 2.39:1 and displays the decades in which it is set with nice detail.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track is good for what it must work with. This is a “talky”, dialogue driven film, but it is presented with the expected clarity that makes it a worthwhile one. The rear channels came into play when needed.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Extended Cut – For the first time, an extended 123-Minute Cut is presented here. We also get the theatrical version as well.
  • Audio CommentaryNote: The commentary is on the theatrical cut only. Recorded in 1999, The late Sydney Pollack has a lot to say in his reflection on the making of the film. It’s a good listen for casual viewers and fans alike.
  • Looking Back: Making Of Documentary – In this 62-minute program, we hear many good notes, even though Redford is oddly missing here. Most interesting here is the inclusion of deleted scenes. I always like to see things like this, so having them here is a great bonus even though it would’ve been nice to have them in their own deleted scenes section.
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Bottom Line

Certainly, a film like this has an already established fan base. I certainly didn’t despise it, but I found the characters irritating (especially the Streisand character) and clearly not made for one another. There’s also too much repetition for my liking. With all, this is a great set. Having the extended cut is a big bonus as well as some great legacy features. A new retrospective would’ve been welcome, but what we get is good enough. Recommended for the fans.

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