Posts Tagged ‘Ennio Morricone’

Blu-ray Cover - June 20

Distributor: Arrow Video

Release Date: June 20, 2017

Region: Regions A and B

Length: 01:36:44

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: Italian Mono Linear PCM Audio

Alternate Audio: English Mono Linear PCM Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, English

Ratio: 2.35:1

Bitrate: 34.69 Mbps

Note: This package includes a DVD edition of the film.

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In 1970, young first-time director Dario Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red) made his indelible mark on Italian cinema with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage—a film which redefined the giallo genre of murder-mystery thrillers and catapulted him to international stardom. To be honest, the film’s plot doesn’t really distinguish itself from other giallo films.

Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante), an American writer living in Rome, inadvertently witnesses a brutal attack on a woman (Eva Renzi) in a modern art gallery. Powerless to help, he grows increasingly obsessed with the incident. Convinced that something he saw that night holds the key to identifying the maniac terrorizing Rome, he launches his own investigation parallel to that of the police, heedless of the danger to both himself and his girlfriend Giulia (Suzy Kendall).

The most fascinating aspect of the film is Argento’s confident direction. It is truly a remarkably assured debut effort that is aided by Vittorio Storaro’s masterful cinematography and an interesting score by Ennio Morricone. It is essential viewing for fans of both the director and stands with the director’s best work.

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The Presentation:

5 of 5 Stars

This is the epitome of wonderful packaging. It is probably impossible to do it justice here, but it should at least be said that this is one of Arrow’s more distinguished packages. Three items are held in a very sturdy box featuring artwork by Candice Tripp with title work completed by Matt Griffin. This is the same artist who graced Arrow with their extraordinary artwork for Donnie Darko earlier this year (among others)—and we wouldn’t complain if they were to work exclusively with this artist.

The three items contained in this box are as follows: The Arrow Blu-ray disc, a collector’s booklet, and a reversible foldout poster featuring both the original American one sheet design and the new Candice Tripp painting.

Limited Edition

The Blu-ray disc is housed in a sturdy clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve that allows fans to showcase either the aforementioned artwork or the film’s original Italian one-sheet. It is nice that Arrow has also offered fans the opportunity to utilize the film’s original one-sheet design, but we feel that most fans will agree that the new art is vastly superior to the original (which rarely happens). However, this is a matter of taste and there is little doubt that some will prefer the alternative. In addition to the Blu-ray disc, the case houses six postcards featuring the artwork for six of the film’s original lobby cards that helped to market the film upon its original release.

The collector’s booklet includes three great essays, including “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage: An Appreciation” by Michael Mackenzie, “Rogues’ Gallery: Portraits of Fear” by Howard Hughes, and “Sacrificial Knives and Cultic Objects: Reflections of the Screaming Mind in Dario Argento’s ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’” by Jack Seabrook. The book is illustrated with new artwork by Matthew Griffin and contains a number of production stills that add significantly to the aesthetic presentation. The essays themselves are quite worthwhile and add to one’s appreciation of the film and its place in film history.

Menu

The disc’s animated menu utilizes footage from the film and is easy to navigate. Everything about this release is remarkable, and Arrow should be commended for their efforts.

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Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow has graced the disc with a 4K restoration transfer presented in the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This is a film that has seen a number of home video transfers, and none of the previous transfers have come close to the quality of this new restoration. Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography finally comes across with some degree of accuracy in this release as colors seem accurately rendered with attractive saturation levels and natural flesh tones (for the most part). Contrast levels also seems to reflect the original production photography and showcases rich black levels without crushing shadow detail. There is an organic layer of grain that textures the image without sacrificing any of fine detail inherent in the photography.

The disc’s maxed out bitrate ensures that unsightly compression artifacts are never an issue, and the unsightly DNR that graces a number of the other releases does not mar the experience of watching this transfer. Film damage is at times evident, but this is never problematic or distracting for the viewer.

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

We are happy to report that the disc includes solid Linear PCM audio transfers of both the original Italian mono mix and the English language mono mix. Some might lament the inclusion of an artificially produced quasi-5.1stream, but these rarely live up to their hype. These faithful mono reproductions are more than acceptable. Any flaws inherent in these tracks are the product of the original production methods and shouldn’t bother viewers who are well versed in the genre.

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Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

Feature Length Audio Commentary by Troy Howarth

Troy Howarth is the author of a number of books (including So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films – Volumes 1 & 2, The Haunted World of Mario Bava, Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films, and Real Depravities: The Films of Klaus Kinski). A mere look at the titles of these books make it clear that he is a devotee of the giallo and horror genres, and his enthusiasm is evident throughout the duration of his commentary track. His general knowledge about this subject serves the track rather well, although it never approaches the quality one gains from an actual filmmaker’s commentary. One laments that Dario Argento himself didn’t participate in this discussion.

However, listeners are given a wealth of pertinent information here as Howarth’s encyclopedic knowledge of interesting trivia elevates the track above the level of most third party commentaries. It really does add an enormous amount of value to the disc.

Crystal Nightmare – (31:24)

Arrow Video wisely includes this interview with Dario Argento himself, and it is one of this disc’s most interesting supplemental features. The director discusses the film in a general way and delves into such topics as the inspiration for the film’s premise, the screenplay, the financing, and information about the film’s production and eventual release. His manner is rather straightforward and relatively unpretentious throughout his discussion, and his anecdotal recollections are especially fascinating. One doesn’t even have to be a fan of the director to find this program fascinating.

An Argento Icon – (22:05)

This better than average interview with Gildo Di Marco covers more territory than its somewhat brief duration might imply. The actor talks about his life as an actor and even delves into more personal territory. Frankly, the events of his life are really more interesting than one might imagine. His work with Argento is also covered in some detail.

Eva’s Talking – (11:19)

Eva Renzi’s interview is a bit older and the video quality isn’t as good as one might hope. However, the actress is frankly honest about her less than positive feelings about the film and the effect that it had on her career and this results in a unique and interesting experience for the viewer.

The Power of Perception – (20:57)

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (author of Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria, Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, and Found Footage Horror Films: Fear and the Appearance of Reality) provides this genuinely instructive visual essay about the film’s themes and the role that art plays in Dario Argento’s cinema. This scholarly examination is insightful and should add to one’s appreciation of this film as well as the director’s other work.

Black Gloves and Screaming Mimis – (34:54)

Kat Ellinger gives another somewhat scholarly examination of the film that fans should enjoy. Ellinger examines the film’s origins and the Frederic Brown novel: ‘The Screaming Mimi’ and in the process manages to reframe the viewer’s contextual perspective. Comparisons to the novel are extremely rare, and this fills an obvious need. It is somewhat dry, but most will agree that it is a worthy addition to an already extraordinary disc.

Italian Theatrical Trailer – (03:11)

International Theatrical Trailer – (02:48)

Arrow’s 2017 Texas Frightmare Promo – (00:56)

It is nice to find that the original Italian and International trailers have been included here as they provide a glimpse at the marketing campaign. The Frightmare Promo is less essential—but probably even more fun than the original trailers.

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Final Words:

Dario Argento’s debut effort is certain to please fans of the giallo genre and the director’s later work, and Arrow Video’s Limited Edition Blu-ray package is gorgeous! The 4K restoration transfer more than makes up for the deficiencies in their earlier release and more than warrants an upgrade. Frankly, this is the only release of the film that is even worth watching.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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