Criterion came out with a grand special edition DVD of 8 1/2 last year, which Savant reviewed here. Now Image also has a DVD version available, and it's not bad either.
Content-wise, the film is identical to the earlier release. For quality, the Image disc hasn't quite the polish of the Criterion.
Overall, the Image disc has more 'digital grain' than the Criterion, perhaps indicative of a lower bit rate, but it only becomes apparent on a very large monitor or projection television. Although not digitally scrubbed, the Image disc is reasonably free of scratches and dirt. It does have considerably more white flecking at the beginning and at reel changes. Some splices ride a bit, but this flaw I noticed on the Criterion disc as well.
Also, the Image disc appeared to be more tightly framed, at least at a few places. The man who guides the cars to the first nighttime visit to the 'spaceship' set, is half-offscreen on the Image disc, and not on the Criterion.
The subtitles are easy to read, and removable. For extras, there's a short selecton of stills and pages from a Kino pressbook.
If there weren't the slightly better-looking Criterion available, Image's disc of 8 1/2 would get an excellent rating. It's a fine alternative to the expensive deluxe set. The handsomely-designed packaging lists a running time one minute longer than Criterion's, but I didn't see any additional footage.
Review Date 10.26.02