Posts Tagged ‘Arrow Academy’

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Academy

Release Date: May 09, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length:

Eros + Massacre: Theatrical Version – 02:45:15

Eros + Massacre: Director’s Cut – 03:36:25

Heroic Purgatory – 01:58:07

Coup D’Etat 01:49:51

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4 AVC)

Main Audio:

Eros + Massacre: Theatrical Version – Japanese Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 1152 kbps, 24-bit)

Eros + Massacre: Director’s Cut – Japanese Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 768 kbps, 16-bit)

Heroic Purgatory – Japanese Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 768 kbps, 16-bit)

Coup D’Etat Japanese Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 768 kbps, 16-bit)

Subtitles: English

Ratio:

Eros + Massacre: Theatrical Version – 2.35:1

Eros + Massacre: Director’s Cut – 2.35:1

Heroic Purgatory – 1.33:1

Coup D’Etat 1.33:1

Bitrate:

Eros + Massacre: Theatrical Version – 31.88 Mbps

Eros + Massacre: Director’s Cut – 25.99 Mbps

Heroic Purgatory – 23.49 Mbps

Coup D’Etat 24.49 Mbps

Notes: This release includes DVD editions of each film. In total, there are seven discs included in this package (three Blu-rays and four DVDs).

SS01

“One could say that in this film there are two times, chronologically speaking: ours and that of fifty years ago—Osugi’s time.  In this sense, one could say that it deals with the problem of time, but for me what’s important is the present. Reflecting on the present is also reflecting on the future: it is at the same time wanting to change the present and seizing a hold of that which will become the future. This is the subject of the film and not Osugi as a historical character per se. The fundamental theme is: how to change the world, and what is it that needs to be changed?  Reflecting on the present situation through the medium of an era already past, I came to believe that Osugi’s problems continue to be ours.

Osugi is very well known in Japan—one could say almost legendary: he is someone who spoke of free love.  He was assassinated in 1923 by an official of the state, massacred by the power of the state. This is what all Japanese historians believe, but this historical estimation only enlightens the past and not the future. In making this film, I wanted to transform the legend of Osugi by means of the imaginary. Sure enough, Osugi was oppressed by the power of the state in his political activities. But most of all, he spoke of free love, which has the power to destroy the monogamous structure, then the family, and finally the state. And it was this very escalation that the state could not allow. It was because of this crime of the imaginary (or ‘imaginary crime’) that the state massacred Osugi. Osugi was someone who envisioned a future…

… I would like to remind you of the murder attempt [during] the second part of the film—the knife penetrating Osugi’s neck, filmed in a realistic manner: this is the plain and simple representation of the narrative.  In filming this attempt a second time, my intention was to destroy this narrative, to deform the actual event, in order to enter into Osugi: I thought that maybe Osugi preferred to be killed—in contrast to what the first version of the attempt showed. It comes right after he starts to consider the destruction of the revolution he desired; it was after this destruction that he began to speak of free love, in other words, of an imaginary crime. In this version of the attempt, then, it should not come about because of jealousy, not due to a psychological element, but from a political cause.  Thus I had Osugi say: ‘Revolution is only the renunciation of the self,’ or ‘in love and terror, there is ecstasy.’ In having Osugi say this, I wanted the spectator to feel the absence of revolution in the present situation. For the third version of the attempt, I tried to show the contrary view, namely Noe, the attacker. In opposition to Kurosawa, it is always the renunciation of the self that is important for me: it is only this way that communication with Noe and Itsuko is possible, and only by means of it that one is able to think the future.” –Yoshishige (“Kiju”) Yoshida (Cahiers du Cinéma, October 1970)

As the above quote about Eros + Massacre—undoubtedly the strongest entry in the director’s trilogy of Japanese radicalism—suggests, Yoshida’s trilogy is both innately political and extremely sexual (not that either of these traits is mutually exclusive).

A contemporary of Nagisa Oshima (Death by Hanging, In the Realm of the Senses) and Masahiro Shinoda (Pale Flower, Assassination), Kiju Yoshida started out as an assistant to Keisuke Kinoshita before making his directorial debut at age 27. In the decades that followed he produced more than 20 features and documentaries, yet each and every one has proven difficult to see in the English-speaking world.

Perhaps this is because one must have at least a general contextual knowledge of Japan’s socio-political landscape during the nineteen sixties and seventies to fully appreciate his work. Eros + Massacre, Heroic Purgatory, and Coup D’Etat form a loose trilogy united by their radical politics and an even more radical shooting style. Eros + Massacre (presented here in two different versions) tells the parallel stories of early 20th-century anarchist (and free love advocate) Sakae Osugi and a pair of student activists. Their stories interact and intertwine—resulting in a complex work that is arguably Yoshida’s masterpiece. Heroic Purgatory pushes the dazzling cinematic language of Eros + Massacre even further, presenting a bleak but dreamlike investigation into the political discourses taking place in early seventies Japan. Coup d’état returns to the past for a biopic of Ikki Kita, the right-wing extremist who sought to overthrow the government in 1936. Yoshida considered the film to be the culmination of his work and temporarily retired from feature filmmaking following its completion—though he would return to the director’s chair over a decade later to make A Promise in 1986.

SS02

The Presentation:

5 of 5 Stars

Arrow Academy’s packaging for this release will no doubt impress anyone with a fondness for classic Japanese cinema. Four items are held in a very sturdy box featuring an attractive design. Three of these items are clear cases which hold the Blu-ray and DVD discs. Each case features its own reversible decorative sleeve. The first case houses the Blu-ray and DVD Editions of the Director’s Cut for Eros + Massacre, the second holds that same film’s Theatrical Version, and the third actually includes a Blu-ray disc featuring both Heroic Purgatory and Coup d’Etat and two DVD discs (one for each of these two films).

The fourth item included in the box is a small limited edition softbound book featuring essays about Yoshishige Yoshida and the films included in the set. Contributors include David Desser (co-editor of the Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema), Isolde Standish (author of Politics, Porn, and Protest: Japanese Avant-Garde Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s) and Dick Stegewerns (author of Kiju Yoshida: 50 Years of Avant-Garde Filmmaking in Post-War Japan). Each of the essays offers instructive information and analysis that should enhance the viewer’s appreciation of these films.

Disc 1 - Menu

Disc 2 - Menu

Disc 3 - Main Menu

Disc 3 - Heroic Purgatory Menu

Disc 3 - Coup D'Etat

All of these discs contain menus that are somewhat different than those on most Arrow releases, but they are all attractive and easy to navigate.

SS03

Picture Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

With the exception of the director’s cut of Eros + Massacre, each of these transfers offers equally solid transfers. The director’s cut is more than three and a half hours in length resulting in a slightly lower bitrate than was used for the theatrical version (which was only two hours and forty-five minutes in length). However, we feel that the significant decrease in picture quality is the result of an inferior source print. The longer director’s cut is noticeably too bright and blown out—which reduces fine detail significantly.

The rest of the three transfers are much better with Heroic Purgatory being marginally superior to the others. All feature strong contrast with nice black levels and showcase a fair amount of fine detail. The image isn’t as razor sharp as contemporary films, but one feels that these represent the originals rather faithfully. Coup D’Etat features a few moments of disappointing clarity but it really isn’t anything to complain about.

SS04

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Each film features a solid lossless mono track—with the theatrical version of Eros + Massacre given a slightly more technically robust transfer. Each track represents its respective film nicely and the sound design featured in each of the films is often quite interesting. Some will no doubt lament the lack of a more dynamic mix of these films, but all that matters to this reviewer is that each track is a reasonably flawless reflection of the original source, and these tracks certainly fall in line with those expectations.

SS05

Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

8 Scene Commentary Tracks for Eros + Massacre (Theatrical Version) by David Desser

9 Scene Commentary Tracks for Eros + Massacre (Director’s Cut) by David Desser

10 Scene Commentary Tracks for Heroic Purgatory by David Desser

7 Scene Commentary Tracks for Coup d’etat by David Desser

These scene commentaries by David Desser will fascinate anyone with an interest in Japanese cinema (especially if they also happen to have a fondness for scholarly analysis). Each is highly informative and make valuable contributions to one’s understanding and appreciation of these films.

Yoshida …or: The Explosion of the Story – (30:10)

It is nice to find a documentary about Eros + Massacre included on this set—especially one that features Yoshishige Yoshida himself! This French production also includes contributions from Mathieu Capel and Jean Douchet. It is a very strong addition to the disc.

Introduction to Heroic Purgatory by Yoshida – (06:08)

Introduction to Coup d Etat by Yoshida – (05:22)

Yoshida offers slightly more substantial introductions to Heroic Purgatory and Coup d Etat than one might expect. Introductions usually don’t provide much in the way of valuable information or analysis, but these are actually worth the viewer’s time and the disc space that they occupy.

Eros + Massacre (Theatrical Version): Discussion with David Desser – (11:21)

Eros + Massacre (Director’s Cut): Discussion with David Desser – (09:08)

Heroic Purgatory: Discussion with David Desser – (09:14)

Coup d’etat: Discussion with David Desser – (08:51)

David Desser’s exclusive discussions are also well worth the time that it takes to watch them. Desser is the author of Eros + Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave and obviously has a passion for Japanese cinema (even if he can come off as a bit dry). Much like his scene commentaries, the information that he reveals along with some analysis adds to one’s appreciation of these films.

Eros + Massacre Theatrical Trailer – (03:30)

Heroic Purgatory Theatrical Trailer – (03:04)

Coup d Etat Theatrical Trailer – (02:58)

One always hopes that the original trailers will be included in a Blu-ray package—especially when the films are as obscure and unusual as these happen to be.

SS06

Final Words:

Devotees of Japanese cinema should certainly see this interesting trilogy and Arrow’s wonderful boxed set is currently the only way to make this happen

Review by: Devon Powell

 

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Academy

Release Date: April 18, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 01:38:14

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: Italian Mono Linear PCM Audio (48kHz, 1152 kbps, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English

Ratio: 1.85:1

Bitrate: 34.83 Mbps

Notes: This release includes a DVD edition of the film.

Title

Cinephiles with a fondness for Italian cinema will find themselves immediately absorbed in Elio Petri’s The Assassin (L’Assassino). The film was released within months of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte and also shares the familiar talents of Marcello Mastroianni, this time as dandyish thirty-something antique dealer Alfredo Martelli—a man arrested on suspicion of murdering his wealthy older lover, Adalgisa (Micheline Presle). The film has often been compared to Petri’s Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion, but there are also similarities to Orson Welles’ film adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial. There are plenty of Kafkaesque scenes in Petri’s film as it becomes less and less important whether Martelli actually committed the crime as his entire lifestyle is effectively put on trial.

Petri was certainly one of the more underrated Italian directors of his generation and while L’Assassino was highly acclaimed on its original release, it has been unjustly neglected ever since.  The film is a remarkably assured debut from one of the cinema’s sharpest chroniclers of Italian social and political realities. Petri said that he wanted to reflect the changes wrought by the early sixties, and to examine “a new generation of upstarts who lacked any kind of moral scruple.” Well, we can only say that he got off to a strong start with this film.

SS01.jpg

The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow Video houses the Blu-ray and DVD discs in a sturdy clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve featuring the choice of newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw and what is presumably the film’s original poster art. There is also an attractive booklet that includes an interesting essay by Camilla Zamboni entitled “Elio Petri’s L’assassino,” an archival analysis of 1950s Italian cinema by Elio Petri himself entitled, “Italian Cinema: A Castrated Elephant,” and a selection of contemporary reviews. These writings are enhanced with a number of production stills.

 [Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02.jpg

Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

The following textual information appears in Italian before the film begins:

“The digital restoration of L’assassino was made from the original camera negative which was missing the first and last roll, and from a first-generation interpositive. These two elements were scanned at 2K resolution for this restoration. The grading was carried out by referring to the original print version that was held by the production company Titanus in the archives of the Cineteca di Bologna. The sound was extracted from a 35mm negative and digitally remastered.”

One can certainly see a slight difference in quality when comparing the first and last reels to the rest of the film, but it is nice to report that the differences in quality aren’t radical enough to call attention to itself. Contrast and black levels are extremely pleasing, and the image usually displays a pleasing sharpness despite the organic layer of grain evident throughout the film. Depth and clarity are quite decent throughout most of the duration as well, and the image isn’t marred by the ravages of time. Dirt and debris have been cleared along with any scratches, water damage, or any other unfortunate anomalies. What’s more, the image looks as if it is free of any overzealous digital tampering.

SS03.jpg

Sound Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow’s Italian mono linear PCM audio track (with optional English subtitles) is a solid representation of the film’s original mix. Some will lament the lack of a more dynamic surround option, but this would not accurately reflect the film’s original sound. Piero Piccioni’s jazz score sounds great on this lossless track as do some of the effects. Dialogue also seems to be clearly rendered, but not having an ear for the Italian language puts this reviewer at a disadvantage. It is simply impossible to make this statement with any authority. Sonic anomalies such as his, hum, dropouts, or pops never mar one’s enjoyment either.

SS04

Special Features:

3.5 of 5 Stars

Elio Petri and L’Assassino – (09:41)

This interview with Italian cinema expert Pasquale Iannone serves as an introductory overview of Elio Petri’s work, but his authority is somewhat muted by his tendency to glance at his notes. It is worth seeing, but those looking for an in-depth study about the director will no doubt be disappointed.

Tonino Guerra: A Poet in the Movies – (51:15)

This documentary about Tonino Guerra (a great Italian screenwriter) was released in 2008 and focuses on Guerra’s life and prolific career working with some of cinema’s most important auteurs—including Elio Petri, Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, Michelangelo Antonioni, Andrey Tarkovsky, Francesco Rosi, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, and many others. The program is fueled by archival interview footage of Tonino Guerra himself discussing an incredibly wide variety of subjects that will fascinate anyone with a fondness for world cinema. These interviews are often illustrated with footage from a variety of films—and while the result is a bit one-sided, it really does make for very instructive viewing.

Theatrical Trailer – (03:45)

The original Italian theatrical trailer (with optional English subtitles) rounds out the disc rather nicely.

SS05

Final Words:

Arrow Academy gives devotees of Italian cinema the gift of an extremely strong transfer of this underappreciated classic.

SS06

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Academy

Release Date: April 25, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 01:51:23

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: Italian Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 1152 kbps, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English

Ratio: 1.85:1

Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Notes: This release includes a DVD edition of the film.

Title

“A wonderful film that moves on waves of feeling. Francesco Rosi, who has one of the greatest compositional senses in the history of movies, keeps you in a state of emotional exaltation. A simple image has the kind of resonance that most directors never achieve.” -Pauline Kael (The New Yorker, 1981)

Francesco Rosi established himself as one of the greatest chroniclers of Italy’s stormy postwar history with such riveting classics as Salvatore Giuliano, The Mattei Affair, and Illustrious Corpses. Three Brothers (Tre Fratelli) explores similarly knotty social and political territory through the seemingly straightforward story of three siblings returning to their native southern Italy to pay homage to their late mother. However, their various professions—a judge in Rome (Philippe Noiret), a spiritual counselor in Naples (Vittorio Mezzogiorno), a factory worker in Turin (Michele Placido)—have a profound effect on their response to this reunion.

Three Brothers even received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film but lost the golden statuette to Mephisto. It is only right that all these years later that Arrow Academy is awarding the film with this excellent Blu-ray release.

SS01

The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow Video houses the Blu-ray and DVD discs in a sturdy clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve featuring the choice of newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin and what is presumably the film’s original poster art.

There is also an attractive booklet that includes an interesting essay by Millicent Marcus entitled “Beyond Cinema Politico,” another essay written by director Francesco Rosi entitled “In Opposition to Life, In Opposition to Death,” a 1981 interview with Francesco Rosi about Three Brothers conducted by Michael Ciment, and contemporary reviews of the film. Arrow enhances these interesting writings with several production stills.

 [Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02

Picture Quality:

3.5 of 5 Stars

We aren’t sure, but it seems that this Arrow Academy release may very well be the film’s home video debut in North America. The booklet’s usually detailed information about the transfer is somewhat vague, so we aren’t entirely certain as to the source of this transfer. Contrast and black levels seem to be accurate and the image is relatively sharp considering its age. Colors are also well-rendered and exhibit natural flesh tones. Grain is well resolved and looks natural as well and there aren’t any troublesome digital anomalies—although one can detect moments of aliasing. One can also detect some minor dirt and a few minor scratches, but these aren’t terribly noticeable unless one is looking for them. Depth isn’t particularly impressive either, but one suspects that this isn’t an issue with the transfer but a reflection of the film’s production. All in all, this is a solid but unexceptional transfer.

SS03

Sound Quality:

3 of 5 Stars

The Italian mono linear PCM audio track is also solid as it is in keeping with what one expects from Italian film productions—meaning that it seems the film’s audio was added in post-production. One scene finds a slight fluctuation between ambient audio when Philippe Noiret is speaking, and this is no doubt a result of replacing the original production sound with dubbed dialogue (as Noiret wasn’t a native Italian speaker). Piero Piccioni’s subtle score sounds good in the lossless environment as do the other elements, and this track seems to reflect the original theatrical mix.

SS04

Special Features:

2 of 5 Stars

Archival Interview with Francesco Rosi – (01:12:12)

This audio-only interview with Francesco Rosi was recorded in London during the summer of 1987 and is presented here with various photographs in order to enhance one’s experience. English is the predominant language throughout the interview with some a few moments of translation. Many topics are covered here but Rossi’s 1987 production of Chronicle of a Death Foretold seems to be the predominant focus. Even so, this is an instructive interview that will please fans of the director.

Original Theatrical Trailer – (03:20)

The film’s original Italian theatrical trailer is also included on the disc with English subtitles.

SS05

Final Words:

Francesco Rosi’s Three Brothers is a character-driven story about family. It has an understated grace that is rare and Arrow Academy’s release seems to be the only way one can experience the film on home video.

SS06

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Academy

Release Date: April 11, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length:

Theatrical Version – 03:58:16

Television Version – 04:09:11

Episode 1 – 47:45

Episode 2 – 55:29

Episode 3 – 42:56

Episode 4 – 47:58

Episode 5 – 53:35

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: Italian Mono Linear PCM Audio (48kHz, 24-bit)

Alternate Audio: English Mono Linear PCM Audio (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English, English SDH

Ratio: 2.35:1

Bitrate:

Disc One – 29.99 Mbps

Disc Two – 34.67 Mbps

Notes: This 4-disc collection includes a DVD edition of the film.

Title

Luchino Visconti is often given credit for announcing the Italian Neorealist movement with Ossessione (1943), which was loosely based on “The Postman Always Rings Twice” by James M. Cain. It would have been impossible to imagine that this same filmmaker would later be responsible for—and indeed known for lush period epics like Senso (1954), The Leopard (1963), and The Damned (1969). With this string of masterpieces behind him, the legendary director turned his attentions to yet another period drama—the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1972.

These efforts resulted in an epic of 19th-century decadence entitled Ludwig (1973). Dominated by Helmut Berger (The Damned, The Bloodstained Butterfly) in the title role, Ludwig nevertheless manages to find room for an impressive cast list: Romy Schneider (reprising her Elisabeth of Austria characterization from the Sissi trilogy), Silvana Mangano (Bitter Rice), Gert Fröbe (Goldfinger), John Moulder-Brown (Deep End), and Trevor Howard (Brief Encounter) as Richard Wagner.

If Ludwig considered one of the director’s best efforts, it should at least be on the list of his most interesting.

SS01.jpg

The Presentation:

5 of 5 Stars

Like so many other Blu-ray releases this set is the epitome of gorgeous packaging. One might say that it is fit for a king—mad or otherwise. The box itself—which itself is placed inside a yellow cardboard holder showcasing the film’s title—features one of the many original one sheet designs (which is quite lovely).

Limited Edition.jpg

Three major ingredients are included inside the box: Two separate cases (each containing both a Blu-ray and a DVD disc) and a beautifully illustrated paperback booklet containing interviews and essays that will enrich one’s understanding and appreciation of the film. Both of the two cases are decorated with a sleeve utilizing a different one sheet and the cover of the booklet features the same one sheet found on the box itself.

[Note: The booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu - Disc 1

Menu - Disc 2

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02.jpg

Picture Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

Arrow Academy’s transfer is taken from a 2K restoration taken from a 4K scan of the original film negative and the result is an immaculate image. Colors are richly saturated and fine detail is simply amazing as they showcase a naturally sharp image. There is a very fine layer of grain that never becomes unwieldy and compression issues simply aren’t present. It is simply a gorgeous transfer—and this goes for both versions of the film.

SS03.jpg

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

This set contains both the Italian and English soundtracks in the Linear PCM Mono Audio format. The English track was produced for the 173 minute version of the film and the audio will occasionally revert back to the Italian mix for scenes that were not in the original U.S. release of the film. There are often differences in musical accompaniment between the original Italian and the English version which can result in sudden changes in the background music between the two versions.

This reviewer would suggest watching the Italian version at least once since it represents Visconti’s original intentions for the soundtrack. However, both versions are technically solid and offer an enjoyable sonic experience—even if the English version exhibits a bit more hiss which is nearly imperceptible unless one listens for it. Since this is an Italian film, there is dubbing present in both versions of the film. What’s more, neither track is particularly dynamic and are merely solid representations of both original mixes.

SS04.jpg

Special Features:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow includes the original full-length theatrical cut and the 5-part television mini-series version of the film. The theatrical version is superior, but it is nice to have both versions for comparison.

The supplemental package might look sparse compared to some of Arrow’s other releases but looks are often deceiving. The supplemental package offers 2 hours, 54 minutes, and 14 seconds of pertinent video based entertainment.

Disc One:

Luchino Visconti – (01:00:35)

Carlo Lizzani’s profile of Luchino Visconti is an incredibly engaging work as it features original interviews with some of the most important figures in Italian cinema: Carlo Lizzani, Claudia Cardinale, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Burt Lancaster, Francesco Rosi, Vittorio Gassman, Massimo Girotti, Luigi Filippo D’Amico, Jean Marais, Enrico Medioli, Piero Tosi, and Franco Zeffirelli. These individuals provide an interesting overview of the director’s life and work. Better yet, archival interviews are also utilized here allowing Luchino Visconti himself to make important appearances along with Silvana Mangano, Alain Fabien, Giuseppe De Santis, and Lina Wertmüller.

The result is a chronological glimpse into the life of one of Italian cinema’s most unique voices. It covers such pertinent subjects as the neorealist movement, his life and politics, his work with Renoir, his stage work, and so much more. It would be easy to fault it for stopping after a mere hour but it really does cover a lot of ground. This is the perfect introduction for cinephiles who have not yet delved into Visconti’s unique cinematic universe.

Helmut Berger: The Mad King – (16:05)

Arrow’s brand new interview (shot in 2016) with Helmut Berger (who portrayed King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the film) is interesting as Berger had appeared in some of  Visconti’s other films. The downside is that his accent has a tendency to drown his English making it somewhat difficult to understand.

Theatrical Trailer – (03:49)

A film’s theatrical trailer is always a welcome addition to a disc’s supplemental package and this one is no exception.

Disc Two:

Speaking with Suso Cecchi d’Amico – (48:12)

This archival interview with Suso Cecchi d’Amico is as engaging as it is instructive. Amico’s screenwriting credits are humbling as she has worked with some of the greatest Italian directors on many of their greatest projects. She worked with Visconti on six of the director’s films: Bellissima (1951), Senso (1954), Rocco and His Brothers (1960), The Leopard (1963), Ludwig (1972), and Conversation Piece (1974). Her conversation here discusses her experiences working with the director.

Silvana Mangano: The Scent of a Primrose – (31:12)

The Scent of a Primrose is an excellent profile of Silvana Mangano that was produced for Italian television. It isn’t incredibly comprehensive but does provide a general overview that will be instructive for anyone who isn’t familiar with her work.

Producing Ludwig – (14:16)

Producing ‘Ludwig’ is a pleasant surprise since it isn’t advertised as one of the set’s supplements, but it is actually superior to Helmut Berger’s interview (in this reviewer’s humble opinion). It is a brand new interview with Dieter Geissler and offer’s a producer’s perspective about the production. Those who admire Italian cinema should find it interesting.

SS05.jpg

Final Words:

This is an extremely interesting work from one of the masters of cinema and Arrow’s Blu-ray set is simply spectacular. This is an extremely important release and it is nice to see that Arrow has treated it accordingly. We hope that this is an indication of what one can expect from Arrow Academy in the future.

SS06.jpg

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Academy

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 130 mins

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Audio: Polish Mono Linear PCM Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Ratio: 1.66:1

Notes: This release includes a DVD edition of the film.

Title.jpg

“For me, bringing Story of Sin to the screen was the perfect pretext for making a popular film, a melodrama that would stir people as the novel once did. The book is sometimes spoken of as a ‘disaster’… but disasters are indefinite and relative. It happens that a work dismissed as a failure can—with the help of time—mature, just like wine, and that a new generation can find that it has a distinctive flavor, or even that it’s so bad that it’s interesting. ‘Story of Sin’ isn’t a failure, but it is stylistically uneven. That doubtless springs from the fact that it was written in weekly installments and serialized in a magazine.” Walerian Borowczyk (Story of Sin Press Book, 1975)

The “unevenness” spoken about during the above quote manages to make its way onto celluloid in Walerian Borowczyk’s Story of Sin—a film that found criticism upon its initial release for being pornographic. Frankly, the only sin this film is really guilty of is boring its audience. One wants very much to admire the film because there are some undeniably brilliant touches throughout its duration, but none of the film’s better attributes are enough to make the viewer actually care about the allegory being played out on the screen.

The narrative itself isn’t particularly unique either. It concerns the trials and tribulations of a beautiful, young, and pious woman who is thrown into chaos when her parents take in a dashingly handsome lodger. Having embarked on a torrid affair, the lodger goes off to Rome to seek a divorce from his estranged wife. Unable to live apart from her beloved, our heroine leaves home only to fall prey to the infatuations and lusts of a band of noble admirers, unsavory criminals, and utopian do-gooders. The only feature Walerian Borowczyk (The Beast, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne) made in his native Poland, Story of Sin transforms Stefan Zeromski’s classic melodrama into a smoldering meditation on l’amour fou—but it never catches fire.

SS01.jpg

The Presentation:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow Academy houses the two discs in their usual clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve that provides the option of choosing between the original poster art and newly commissioned artwork by Andrzej Klimowski. A film’s original one-sheet artwork is usually preferable to home video artwork, but Klimowski’s artwork is vastly superior to the original Polish poster.

Inside the case is an incredible illustrated collector’s booklet that is longer and more in depth than their standard booklets. In addition to the restoration notes and disc credits, Arrow includes five essays and interviews. These include an excerpt from an article published in the January 18th, 2008 edition of the Polish national newspaper Dziennik Polska-Europa-Świat that was written by Andrzej Żulawski—a respected Polish filmmaker. It is titled “Andrzej Żulawski on ‘Story of Sin’” and acts as an introduction to the other writings. There is also an essay by Szymon Bojko entitled “Borowczyk: Movie Magician” which was originally published in the Norwich International Animation Festival’s 2006 catalog. This essay mixes biographical information about Walerian Borowczyk with a personal recollection. Also discussed is Borowczyk’s marriage to Ligia Branice. This is followed by an interview with Borowczyk that was originally published in the press book for Story of Sin in 1975. The interview is an enjoyable read and somewhat enlightening. It is instructive to read what the director had to say about his work as it was being released to the public. Daniel Bird’s retrospective interview with the film’s producer, Stanislaw Rozewicz, follows this and is in quite a bit more depth. Rozewicz discusses the film and his thoughts on Walerian Borowczyk and his work. The final essay in the booklet is also by Daniel Bird and is entitled “Poland’s Immoral Subconscious: Borowczyk’s Polish Years.” This exclusive essay is the most scholarly in this collection of writings and includes a wealth of information about the director—who turns out to be the focus of this entire booklet. Those who admire this film or Borowczyk’s work will agree that this is an invaluable addition to this rather remarkable package.

[Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02

Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow Academy’s restoration transfer represents hours’ worth of restoration work and the included collector’s booklet illuminates the process:

Story of Sin was restored by Fixafilm for TOR Film Production. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with the original mono soundtrack. The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution on a pinless Lasergraphics Director using the 3-flash HDR mode… Film grading and restoration was completed at Fixafilm, Warsaw at 2.5K resolution. Flickering caused by chemical degradation of the negative was minimized. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris and scratches were removed through a combination of digital restoration tools…

…Research into the production history of Story of Sin reveal that a defective camera used for parts of filming resulted in a visible jitter during some parts of the film. This has been removed with the approval of Grzegorz Kędzierski and Daniel Bird.” –Collector’s Booklet

Their trouble was not in vain as the transfer is extremely clean without any noticeable signs of damage. There are a few brief instances of jitter but these are never distracting. There is a nice well-resolved layer of grain that never becomes aggravated by compression issues. Detail is extremely good for a foreign film from the seventies and seems to be only limited by the source materials and directorial choices made during the production. The same thing can be said of the film’s color palette—which is appropriately muted. Viewing this new transfer will be revelatory to those who have viewed any of the film’s previous home video releases.

SS03.jpg

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The film’s original mono soundtrack was transferred from the original re-recording 35mm magnetic tape and is offered here in all of its uncompressed glory. What’s more, it was cleaned of any distracting noise (such as hiss or hum) during the restoration process. It isn’t an incredibly dynamic track, but it serves the film nicely and represents the film’s original mix faithfully.

SS04

Special Features:

5 of 5 Stars

Arrow Academy’s supplemental package is absolutely stacked. It offers two hours, two minutes, and six seconds worth of video based entertainment that is both instructive and engaging—and this isn’t even counting the disc’s four audio based commentary tracks (one for the feature film and one for each of the three shorts included on the disc).

Audio Commentary by Sam Deighan and Kat Ellinger

Deighan and Ellinger’s commentary isn’t the comprehensive look at the film that one might wish for and one wonders why Daniel Bird couldn’t have provided a more comprehensive and authoritative track (as his essay proves he would have been capable of such a track). Having said this, commentary tracks rarely work for me when the original filmmakers aren’t involved—and some of these are worthless too. Other commentary tracks rarely feel as reliable.

Luckily, we are given a wealth of other extras in this set.

Introduction by Andrzej Klimowski – (1080P) – (08:22)

At a little over eight minutes in length, Andrzej Klimowski (poster designer) discusses the film and Walerian Borowczyk’s filmography in a very general way. As introductions go, this one is more interesting and informative than most.

The First Sinner – (1080P) – (23:33)

This engrossing interview with Grazyna Dlugolecka—the actor who played Ewa Pobratynska in the film—covers a variety of topics. Perhaps the most interesting revelation here is that her relationship with Borowczyk was rather rocky during the production. Fans should be thrilled to have this included here.

The Music Box – (1080P) – (19:00)

This interview with David Thompson finds the critic giving a relatively general analysis of the director’s use of Mendelssohn’s music in the film and how this compares to his approach to music in other films. It should add to one’s appreciation of the film but probably won’t recruit any new devotees.

Stories of Sin – (1080P) – (11:49)

Daniel Bird offers up this short visual essay about some of the fundamental psychological tendencies in the Borowczyk’s work. One must admit that it builds on their understanding and appreciation of the director’s work, and it is fascinating to watch.

Short Films:

Arrow also includes three shorts that were directed (or co-directed by Walerian Borowczyk) and a newsreel documentary that was written by Borowczyk in the late fifties. The shorts were given their own 2K restorations taken from the original negatives making their inclusion here even more significant. There are even a few supplements about these short films thrown in for good measure.

Once Upon a Time (1957) (1080P) – (09:11)

This short includes an optional commentary track by Szymon Bojko (historian).

This interesting short co-directed by Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica recalls the animations of Terry Gilliam. One wonders if Gilliam was familiar with the Borowczyk/ Lenica shorts when he began working on his cut-out animations.

Szymon Bojko is even on hand to offer a commentary track for the film and those who enjoy watching Once Upon a Time will find it instructive.

Dom (1958) – (1080P) – (11:27)

This short includes an optional commentary track by Wlodzimierz Kotonsk (composer).

This is another collaboration between Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica that also makes use of stop motion animation—but not exclusively with cut-outs. What’s more, a more traditional live-action approach is also utilized. This isn’t as interesting as Once Upon a Time but it is worth seeing.

Wlodzimierz Kotonsk’s commentary track offers enough insight to recommend that viewers give it a listen.

 The School (1958) – (1080P) – (07:24)

Includes an optional commentary track by Daniel Bird

This short by Walerian Borowczyk employs an altogether different animation approach as still photographs as a soldier is distracted during his training exercises. He eventually decides to retreat into his dreams. This might be the best of the three shorts included here.

Daniel Bird’s commentary is both entertaining and informative. In fact, it might be the best commentary track on the disc.

Street Art (1957) – (1080P) – (11:34)

Street Art is a documentary newsreel with a script by Walerian Borowczyk about poster art. Those who have a fondness for poster art will find it especially interesting.

Miscellaneous – (1080P) – (07:06)

This video essay examines the newsreel and documentary collaborations of Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica. It gives some interesting general information that adds to the viewer’s understanding about Borowczyk’s unusual career.

Tools of the Trade – (1080P) – (06:24)

Julius Zamecznik discusses the equipment used by Borowczyk and Lenica to make Once Upon a Time. It is nice to have a ‘making of’ featurette included here about one of the shorts on the disc.

Poster Girl – (1080P) – (04:05)

Poster Girl is a short but interesting interview with Theresa Byszewskawho makes n appearance in Dom. Byszewska is a poster artist, illustrator, and printmaker.

Theatrical Trailer – (1080P) – (02:11)

The included theatrical trailer rounds out Arrow’s incredible supplemental package nicely.

SS05.jpg

Final Words:

Story of Sin is an admirable but disappointing effort from Walerian Borowczyk than has been given an amazing restoration and Blu-ray release from Arrow Academy. The restoration is so impressive and the disc is so filled with genuinely worthwhile supplemental material that it is almost worth giving a blanket recommendation on these merits alone. However, it is better suited to those with an already established affection for Walerian Borowczyk.

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Cover.jpg

Distributor: Arrow Academy

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 02:06:13

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: 2.0 Italian Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 16-bit)

Subtitles: English SDH

Ratio: 1.85:1

Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Notes: This release includes a DVD edition of the film.

Title.jpg

“Property is theft.” -Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

According to Elio Petri, Property is No Longer a Theft. It is a disease. This offbeat and extremely political satire concerns the exploits of a bank employee named Total (Flavio Bucci) who is actually allergic to money. Total’s world spins out of control when he decides to shatter a corrupt and therefore affluent butcher’s universe by taking various trophies that symbolize his wealth and power. The film is a comedy—but this particular brand of humor is always dryer than the Sahara and just as dark. Viewers who enjoy this unique brand of comedy will no doubt enjoy the film—even as it becomes apparent that things aren’t going to end well.

SS01.jpg

The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow Video houses the Blu-ray and DVD discs in a rather sturdy clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve showcasing newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh on one side and the film’s original one-sheet design on the other. Surprisingly, the newly commissioned artwork is the superior choice. This reviewer usually opts to flip the sleeve to feature the one sheet art, but this is a rare exception.

There is also an attractive illustrated booklet containing a new essay on the film by Camilla Zamboni entitled “A Grotesque Entanglement of Property, Power, and Desire.” Zamboni’s essay is a scholarly and analytical examination of the film that adds to one’s appreciation of the film. The included still photos and artwork make looking through the booklet that much more enjoyable and add value to the entire package.

[Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu.jpg

The animated menus utilize footage from the film and music from the score. They are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02.jpg

Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow Academy’s high definition transfer is the product of hours of digital restoration work. The included collector’s booklet details the specifics of this restoration:

Property is No Longer a Theft (La proprietà non è più un furto) was restored on behalf of The Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino and the Cineteca di Bologna from the original negative. The film was scanned at 4K resolution from the original camera negative and digitally restored in 2K resolution. The audio was sourced and restored from the optical negative. All restoration work was completed at L’Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna.” –Collector’s Booklet

These efforts in addition to Arrow’s maxed out bitrate provide an impressive image that is both clean and detailed. In fact, the level of detail is surprising considering that this is a film made in Italy in the 1970s. These are especially noticeable in the medium shots and close-ups. What’s more, the image showcases an admirable amount of depth and certain scenes showcase rather vibrant coloring. The there is a nice natural-looking layer of grain that adds a film-like texture to the image without becoming unwieldy.

SS03.jpg

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow’s 2.0 Italian linear PCM audio mix isn’t as dynamic as some of the more robust contemporary mixes coming out on Blu-ray, but it serves the film nicely and seems to be a clean and faithful reproduction of the film’s original mix. The lossless nature of the mix assures that compression issues never plague the track while giving the various elements (dialogue, effects, and Ennio Morricone’s score) some room to breathe.

SS04.jpg

Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

At a glance, Arrow Academy’s supplemental package might look a bit anemic when compared to some of their other releases, but looks can be deceiving. The disc includes 1 hour, 6 minutes, and 24 seconds worth of pertinent video-based interviews and each is well worth the viewer’s time. Each interview is in Italian with English subtitles.

Interview with Claudio Mancini (Producer) – (23:33)

The most substantial and interesting of the three interviews is the one with Claudio Mancini who remembers working with Elio Petri and some of the challenges they had to overcome during the production (including one involving striking workers on another set). He also reveals that some of the film’s success was probably due to some of Daria Nicolodi sexier scenes. The entire conversation makes for an informative and surprisingly breezy twenty-three-and-a-half minutes.

Interview with Flavio Bucci (Actor) – (19:46)

Flavio Bucci is on hand to give an actor’s perspective about the production and his revelations are almost as engaging as Mancini’s as he too shares his memories about working with Elio Petri on the film.

Interview with Pierantonio Mecacci (Make-up Artist) – (23:05)

Pierantonio Mecacci—who has worked on a number of films by Dario Argento—worked on Property is No Longer a Theft as a make-up artist. His interview offers yet another perspective on the film’s production and should interest fans of the film.

SS05.jpg

Final Words:

Those who wish to experience a political satire saturated with an abundance of black comedy should check out this somewhat obscure Italian classic!

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Academy

Release Date: March 21, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length:

Theatrical Version02:03:50

Director’s Cut 02:53:31

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio:

Theatrical Version5.1 Italian DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 2290 kbps, 24-bit)

Director’s Cut 5.1 Italian DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 3224 kbps, 24-bit)

Alternate Audio:

Theatrical Version Italian Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 2304 kbps, 24-bit)

Director’s Cut 2.0 Italian Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 2304 kbps, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English (SDH)

Ratio: 1.67:1

Bitrate:

Theatrical Version34.98 Mbps

Director’s Cut30.00 Mbps

Notes: This film has seen several DVD and Blu-ray releases, but this new restoration release from Arrow Academy is the definitive release by a wide margin.

Title

Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso (aka Nuovo Cinema Paradiso) tells the story of Salvatore, a successful film director who reminisces about his formative years when he learns about the death of Alfredo—his old friend, mentor, and father surrogate. As memories of his first love affair with the beautiful Elena and all the high and lows that shaped his life come flooding back to him, he decides that he must return home for the funeral… and this is where radical differences between the two versions included in this set come into play.

Both versions can be divided into three separate sections—or three very distinct “acts” if you subscribe to Aristotle’s theories about dramatic structure: The first concentrates on Salvatore’s childhood, the second on his adolescence, and the third on Salvatore’s journey back to his hometown as a successful but unhappy middle-aged man. However, all of these sections are given equal screen time in the director’s cut while much of the third section has been omitted in the theatrical release.

The result is that the award-winning theatrical release and the director’s cut are two very different films that tell two vastly different stories. The trailer advertising the limited theatrical release of the director’s cut (also known as The New Version) boasts that audiences will “discover what really happened to the love of a lifetime” and it certainly deliver’s on this promise—but there’s the rub. The revelation of what happened to Elena is such that it changes the entire meaning of everything that came before it—including the nature of Salvatore’s relationship with Alfredo. This alters the theme and ones experience to such an extent that it is impossible to view the theatrical version in the same way. Those who remember the film as a charming “celebration of youth, friendship, and the everlasting magic of the movies” (as Arrow’s liner notes boldly announce) will forever be disillusioned. The director’s cut is a much darker film with very different themes—and you can’t un-see it.

The truth is that this longer version is probably the better film, and viewers who see it first will likely be shocked that the theatrical version doesn’t utilize the most important scenes in the entire film. But those who were raised watching the original theatrical cut might very well feel that “their” Cinema Paradiso has forever been perverted, and this reviewer falls into the latter category.

SS01.jpg

The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Cinema Paradiso marks the US debut of Arrow Academy and they have set the bar quite high with the release. One might compare Arrow’s standard Blu-ray releases to those released by Criterion in that both boutique labels seem put special effort into the presentation of their packaging. This is usually evident before one even takes shrink-wrap off of the case. However, there are a few minor differences. Criterion’s original designs are usually superior to those commissioned by Arrow. However, Arrow more than makes up for this fact by offering consumers a reversible sleeve that makes use of the film’s one-sheet artwork. This release is a good example of this as we find the two Blu-ray discs housed in the same clear Blu-ray case with the aforementioned reversible sleeve offering a choice between Arrow’s new artwork and the film’s original one-sheet design—which is more attractive and the easy choice.

There is also an attractive booklet that replicates the aesthetic of a vintage roadshow program and includes an interesting essay by Pasquale Iannone entitled “Stolen Kisses: Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso,” which is an informative appreciation of the film that discusses the production and the film’s two different cuts (comparing the director’s cut to Apocalypse Now: Redux). Also included in the booklet is a series of “behind the scenes photos from the film and the usual notes about Arrow Academy, the restoration transfer, and cast and crew credits. It is well worth the time that it takes to read through this attractive booklet and it adds quite a bit of value to the release.

[Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu - Theatrical Version

Menu - Director's Cut.jpg

The animated menus utilize footage from the film and music from Ennio Morricone’s score. They are attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02.jpg

Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow Films has given Cinema Paradiso a much deserved 2K restoration and the results are happily quite satisfactory. In fact, both versions of the film begin with a textual header that includes information about the restoration:

Cinema Paradiso was exclusively restored by Arrow Films for this release. The original 35mm camera negative elements were scanned in 2k resolution at Technicolor Rome, with all grading and restoration work completed at Deluxe Digital Cinema – EMEA, London. Throughout the process, care was taken to ensure that the film’s original texture, details and grain structure remained unaffected by digital processing. Although every effort has been made to present Cinema Paradiso in the highest quality possible, some minor picture issues remain, in keeping with the condition of the original archive materials.” –Opening Header

The Blu-ray transfers of the restoration are of the most excellent quality. Each version is given its own disc at a maxed-out bitrate, and neither version has ever looked as good on home video. Videophiles will be happy to find that the transfer maintains the film’s original filmic texture without sacrificing fine detail—which is really quite impressive for a 25-year-old film. The sharpness of the image is also remarkable and this becomes especially evident in the film’s close and medium shots. The Italian textures of the various buildings come across admirably as do those in the actor’s skin and wardrobe. There are a few moments when the grain patterns can become just a bit unwieldy during a few of the darker moments, but these moments are the exception rather than the rule and never become distracting. Colors are simply brilliant with better than average black levels throughout the duration. The most surprising thing about the transfer is how clean it looks. One would expect a 25-year-old film to be marred by dirt, scratches, and perhaps even a few photochemical anomalies, but such flaws are surprisingly infrequent.

SS03.jpg

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow offers a 5.1 Italian DTS-HD Master Audio mix for both versions of the film along with Linear PCM Audio transfers of each film’s original mix. (The theatrical version’s original mix was in Mono while the Director’s Cut was released in 2.0 Stereo). It is nice that the original mixes have been included here in addition to the 5.1 upgrade and all tracks are reasonably solid. The theatrical version’s original track is predictably flatter than one might prefer, but it sounds quite good. Dialogue is always clear and music has plenty of room to breathe. The surround mix of the film probably isn’t the huge leap forward that one might expect but does offer a more dynamic presentation of the film’s score—although the placement of the various elements sound a bit phony and manage to distract during certain moments. Purists will certainly want to opt for the original mono mix—even if the 5.1 versions do manage a marginally more dynamic experience. The director’s cut’s original 2.0 stereo offers noticeable separations and sounds quite good making this an easy choice for this particular version—although this is merely a matter of taste. All tracks are fairly front heavy but this never becomes a bother.

SS04.jpg

Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

Disc 1

Audio Commentary by Millicent Marcus and Giuseppe Tornatore (Theatrical)

Disappointingly, this commentary track is 95% Millicent Marcus—who somehow manages to hold one’s interest as she gives a somewhat elementary analysis. That she manages to hold one’s interest is surprising, because she usually relies on giving the viewer a description of what is on the screen. The track becomes more interesting during the few audio excerpts of Giuseppe Tornatore discussing certain aspects of the film. There are occasions when Marcus gives a bit of general background information, and her observations about the director’s cut are both on target and engaging. Viewers are also likely to appreciate when she offers the titles of the various films being projected within the movie. These moments make the commentary worth visiting, but one would do well to curb one’s expectations.

Giuseppe Tornatore’s A Dream of Sicily – (54:47)

This is a surprisingly comprehensive profile of Giuseppe Tornatore featuring footage early home movies shot by the director, on set footage of Tornatore at work, clips from a few of his films, and much more. The majority of the piece revolves around interviews with the director himself, although Francesco Rosi and Peppino Ducato also make appearances. The documentary is well worth the time it takes to watch it, and may well be the disc’s best supplement—though one suspects that some will prefer the disc’s other documentary more since it focuses solely on Cinema Paradiso.

A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise – (27:28)

A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise is a comprehensive retrospective look at the making of Cinema Paradiso—and it is as entertaining as it is informative. Giuseppe Tornatore, Salvatore Cascio, and Philippe Noiret are all on hand to discuss their experiences during the shooting of the film, the two cuts, and the film’s enthusiastic reception. Some people complain about such “talking heads” documentaries, but I will take a good “talking heads” documentary over a “describe the action” commentary any day.

The Kissing Sequence – (07:03)

This short featurette finds Giuseppe Tornatore as he discusses the final “censored kisses” montage. It is certainly informative and engaging, but one wonders why this footage couldn’t have been included in the body of A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise. It would’ve been a nice addition to the documentary—but one suspects this allows them to advertise another supplement. It is nice to have it included in any case.

25th Anniversary Trailer – (01:42)

The 25th Anniversary trailer is nice enough, but one wonders why the original theatrical release trailers couldn’t have been included either in addition or instead of this one.

Disc 2

Director’s Cut Theatrical Trailer – (01:22)

The Director’s Cut trailer promises “over fifty-one minutes of never before seen footage” and that audiences will “discover what really happened to the love of a lifetime.” Its inclusion here is appreciated.

SS05.jpg

Final Words:

Cinema Paradiso is a classic of world cinema and this wonderful 25th Anniversary Restoration release from Arrow Academy is the best it has ever looked on home video.

SS06.jpg

Review by: Devon Powell