Studiocanal have announced the new 4k, Ultra High Definition restoration of Mike Hodges’ cult classic Flash Gordon (1980), in honour of the film’s 40th anniversary. Featuring a soundtrack performed by Queen, the film will be released on 4K UHD Collector’s edition, Blu-ray, Steelbook, DVD and digital on 3 August, with special screenings to be confirmed. You can watch the film’s official trailer below.
Flash Gordon is the 1980 space opera film adaptation directed by Mike Hodges (Get Carter, Black Rainbow) based on the comic strip of the same name created by Alex Raymond and adapted for the screen by Michael Allin (Enter The Dragon) and Lorenzo Semple Jr (King Kong).
Produced by Dino De Laurentiis (Serpico, King Kong), with cinematography by Gilbert Taylor (Star Wars IV: A New Hope, Dr. Strangelove), the film starred Sam J. Jones, Brian Blessed, Max Von Sydow, Timothy Dalton, Melody Anderson, Ornella Muti, Peter Wyngarde & Topol and is also notable for its soundtrack, which was composed, performed and produced by Queen with orchestral sections by Howard Blake.
The ‘Flash Gordon’ comic strip ran as a daily from 1934 to 1992, followed by a Sunday strip which ran until 2003. The comic was an influence on early superhero comic characters, from the costume and inverted narrative of a heroic alien on earth in ‘Superman’ to ‘Batman’s first appearance in the Detective Comics, with its DNA still evident in characters today.
Raymond’s comic was also an influence on the wider sci-fi genre, from James Tiberius Kirk to Star Wars. George Lucas loved Flash Gordon so much, he tried to get the rights from King Features to make the film. However, King Features had Federico Fellini and then Nicolas Roeg in mind before turning to Hodges, but Lucas still cites the comic as an inspiration for his famed space saga.
For the new 40th Anniversary 4k restoration, Flash Gordon was scanned from the original 35mm negative to produce 4K files. Over 500 hours of manual restoration repaired serious damage that included image instability, scratches and intermittent flicker. The sound was scanned from the original track negative and underwent restoration to improve issues ranging from audio drop-outs throughout the feature and during reel changes, digital clicks and optical distortion.
The film was colour graded for theatrical, home entertainment and 4K HDR release, using previous digital releases and 35mm prints as a reference. In line with the Director’s vision and the original 35mm cinema release, VFX work was applied to remove the strings in all scenes where visible. This restoration was approved by Director Mike Hodges in May 2020, and will include the first 4K HDR Dolby Vision master of Flash Gordon.
Flash Gordon 40th Anniversary 4K UHD Collectors Edition is out on 3 August and can be pre-ordered here.