Blu-Ray Review: The Andromeda Strain

If science is correct, we are not alone. The chances of Earth being the only planet in the universe to support life is far too unlikely to even contemplate. What shape and size they may take, however, is anyone’s guess. Given our genesis, there’s a good chance any ‘being’ we may encounter will be at the beginning of their evolution. Whilst their habitat might contain similar elements, it’s undoubtedly not going to be the same. Contact could prove to be extremely dangerous. That is the case in Robert Wise’s 1971 film The Andromeda Strain.

Shortly after a satellite crashes in Piedmont, New Mexico, almost all the inhabitants of the small town die. Suspecting the worst, the US military dispatches two members of an elite team to recover the debris. Dr. Jeremy Stone (Arthur Hill) and Dr. Mark Hall (James Olson) also return with a man and baby who have survived. They are joined at a secret research facility, codenamed Wildfire, by Dr. Charles Dutton (David Wayne) and Dr. Ruth Leavitt (Kate Reid); facing a race against time to find a way to stop this alien phenomenon.

The Andromeda Strain does a great job of bottling up and then slowly releasing tension. Wise eschews gimmicks or cheap tricks to infuse horror into proceedings. Instead, he makes great use of the limited space to create a claustrophobic and strained environment. With four people working against the clock to find a ‘cure’. It succeeds because of how realistic this situation feels. The Andromeda Strain set a benchmark for all pandemic and outbreak films which followed.

Special edition contents:

  • New restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original camera negative
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-Ray presentation
  • Original uncompressed mono audio, newly remastered for this release
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by critic Bryan Reesman
  • A New Strain of Science Fiction, a newly-filmed appreciation by critic Kim Newman
  • The Andromeda Strain: Making The Film, an archive featurette from 2001 directed by Laurent Bouzereau and featuring interviews with director Robert Wise and screenwriter Nelson Gidding
  • A Portrait of Michael Crichton, an archive featurette from 2001 directed by Laurent Bouzereau and featuring an interview with author Michael Crichton
  • Cinescript Gallery, highlights from the annotated and illustrated shooting script by Nelson Gidding
  • Theatrical trailer, TV spots and radio spots
  • Image gallery
  • BD-ROM: PDF of the 192-page “cinescript” with diagrams and production designs
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Tonguette and archive publicity materials

The Andromeda Strain is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 3 June.

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