New to the Criterion Collection and part of this November’s releases is “The Squid and the Whale,” the third feature film from writer and director Noah Baumbach. The story of a Brooklyn family and the divorce that fractures the family, which Baumbach took from his own personal life, is one of the director’s finest films and an all-around achievement, a fantastic addition to the Criterion Collection.
The Director-approved Blu-ray special edition features a new, restored 4K digital transfer from the Super 16 mm original (thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed, supervised by cinematographer Robert Yeoman and Baumbach). Also included are the special features below, including new interviews, new conversation about the score, a documentary with on-set footage, audition footage, trailers and more.
Read below for a brief list of features included on the DVD:
Noah Baumbach on “The Squid and the Whale”
“It was almost like the only time I’ve ever felt – at least up until that point – the only time I felt like writing was a physical thing. That my whole body was in it. It was anger, and it was emotion, and humor, and all these things, but it was also, there was a kind of way of like, in this little way, I’m seizing this time, and I’m going to make sense of it, and I’m going to make it work for me.”
Baumbach talks about his writing process for the movie based on his own experience after his first two films (“Kicking and Screaming,” “Mr. Jealousy”), and how the time it took to write and make his movie, his producer Wes Anderson wrote and directed two movies (“The Royal Tenenbaums,” “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”).
“There’s definitely an aspect of revenge in that. You know, I think, in going back and writing about childhood.”
Revisiting “The Squid and the Whale”
Interviews with Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg, and Owen Kline, as well as on-set footage. The actors talk about how they each came to the project, Linney discussing how she knew Baumbach before the movie, and that Kline was essentially a family friend.
Linney recounts her love for the title: “I love that it’s called ‘The Squid and the Whale.’ I have tape recordings of me as a three year old seeing the whale and my father asking me ‘What’s that, is that a whale?’ and remembering what that felt like as a child, to walk into that room and see that whale.
Kline states that “It’s a mood ring movie. It changes however you feel when you’re watching it.”
Jesse Eisenberg talks about how this one of the earlier movies he had done. “This movie had a script that, I wouldn’t call it rare, I think it’s more than rare. Rare implies that there’s others like it. I really have never read anything like it.”
Jeff Daniels on “The Squid and the Whale”
My dad said something to me, that turned out to be true… he goes, ‘You know, I think you’re going to grow into your face. And probably the best, most rewarding decade has been the last ten years. And it started with ‘Squid,’ it really started with ‘Squid.'” Daniels talks about flying to New York to get the part after the lead choice was stalling (Bill Murrary), modeling Bernard after his own failures to win Awards and garner giant paychecks compared to his own contemporaries, working with fellow stage actor Laura Linney and how ‘Squid got him back into the “serious actor” game.
Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips (Original Score by)
The Wareham and Phillips talk to Baumbauch in a conversation conducted for the Criterion Collection about scoring the original music for the film. Having met Baumbach in 1996 when scoring the music for his film “Mr. Jealousy,” the trio recount old memories of working together then, and then waiting seven years “for the funding to come in” to make “Squid.” Baumbach remembers wanting to share music that he listened to as a kid with the musicians as inspiration for the film, including Pink Floyd’s seminal classic album “The Wall” (which serves as a minor plot point in the film), and Wareham remembers learning “Hey You” to teach to Eisenberg. It’s a feature well worth watching to learn more about the songs and original music that serves the movie so wonderfully.
Behind “The Squid and the Whale” (On-set interviews and footage)
On-set interviews photographed by Nico Baumbach (Noah’s brother) of Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg, and director Noah Baumbach. In a moment of downtime, Linney and Daniels talk to Nico about constructing their characters and serving the script, and Daniels talks about what his own playwriting in Michigan. Baumbach expands on the “articulate, cultured” characters that he finds himself writing, and a funnier moment sees Baumbach realizing on one shooting day just how many more scenes they have to finish shooting that day. It’s a lighthearted and fun behind-the-scenes look that’s well worth a watch.
- New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Robert Yeoman and director Noah Baumbach, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New interviews with Baumbach and actors Jeff Daniels, Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline, and Laura Linney
- New conversation about the score and other music in the film between Baumbach and composers Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips
- Behind “The Squid and the Whale,” a 2005 documentary featuring on-set footage and cast interviews
- Audition footage
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones and a 2005 interview of Baumbach by novelist Jonathan LethemNew cover based on lettering by Leanne Shapton