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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Saragossa Manuscript' or 'Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie)

directed by Wojciech Has
Poland 1965

 

Wow - what a find ! In the Napoleonic wars, an officer finds an old book that relates his grandfather, Alfons van Worden, a captain in the Walloon guard. Each successful venture through Spain it seems to relate to the previous in a wild ride of interest, intrigue, bawdy fun and historical significances. In a Bu˝uelian time-circle we are really witnessing the imagination of one buffoonish character - our hero. Folks, this is as adventurous, romantic and downright fun film as I have seen in a long time. Based on a novel by Count Jan Potocki we are privy to cultural veins flowing deep with Islamic princesses, priests who are really sheiks in disguise and then the Spanish Inquisition! A lengthy film that you wish would never stop or just be the pilot for a long running TV series. Unfortunately the director Wojciech Has died in October 2000, but this film is part of his legacy and its quite cinematically significant.

 

 Posters

Theatrical Release: February 9th, 1965

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Comparison:

Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Zebra - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Zebra - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

Box Covers

 

Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Zebra
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 3:01:54  3:03:27.500 
Video 1.92:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.29 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 45,020,432,047 bytes

Feature: 39,334,770,240 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.43 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio Polish (Dolby Digital 1.0)  DTS-HD Master Audio Polish 1846 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1846 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Descriptive Audio: LPCM Audio Polish 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles English, None English, Polish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.92:1

Edition Details:

• Biographies
• Isolated score
• Stills gallery
• liner notes essay by Darren Gross

DVD Release Date:
March 26th, 2002
Keep Case
Chapters: 44

Release Information:
Studio: Zebra

Aspect Ratio:  2.39:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 45,020,432,047 bytes

Feature: 39,334,770,240 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.43 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Unknown - in Polish
 

Blu-ray Release Date: January, 2014
Book-Style
Blu-ray case

Chapters 20

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Zebra - Region FREE Blu-ray - March 2014 - This is very exciting to see this wonderful film on Blu-ray. There is continued debate about the production and projection aspect ratio of The Saragossa Manuscript. I've heard 1.85:1, 2:1, 2.39:1. I don't know which is correct but I do think this composition looks impressive in 2.39 excepting I also see what looks like some 'Cinemascope Mumps' where faces are stretched horizontally (abnormally fat faces). Comparatively the Image Entertainment DVD looks squished vertically (elongated faces). Generally the 1080P Blu-ray shows more information in the frame - mostly noticeable on all 4 edges. While it looks significantly better than SD - it is not perfect. I think the saturation is probably a correct appearance but I am more suspicious of the heavy gloss and slight smearing. But as the visuals are so much sharper with piercing black levels (approaching moiring) and more layered contrast - it is hard to complain about any digitization imperfections - although they do exist. The image is very smooth and depth is present. I'd like to see more grain as well, but it did provide an interesting, and relatively pleasing, presentation.

Audio may have minor sync issues at times but it didn't bother my viewing extensively. The 2 sound options are both lossless - a 5.1 DTS-HD and LPCM 2.0 channel (Descriptive Audio in Polish). There are some separations in varying degrees. The score is by Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki - whose highly notable music you would have heard in Kubrick's The Shining, in The Exorcist, Fearless and Children of Men - to name a few. This is another brilliant score evoking memorable symphonic and operatic resonance. When heard it has great appeal.   

The cover, booklet and extras are in all Polish only but this Blu-ray is both region FREE and has optional English subtitles. It will appeal to many as it is such a dynamic video presentation beyond the 2002 DVD. I love The Sargossa Manuscript. Everything here has two interpretations: the mystical, magical philosophers constantly clashing with humanistic realities. This brilliant adaptation of one of the greatest works of world literature honored with awards and prizes in Edinburgh, San Sebastian and more.

I'm keen to review more from this distributor - there are plenty of Wajda films on these Blu-rays and we looks forward to comparing where possible! Stay tuned for more!

***

ON THE DVD: Great film, but kind of a sloppy DVD. It is labeled the 'restored widescreen' edition and 'director's cut'. There is a large black border (pictureboxed) around the image detracting from the horizontal resolution. The film is quite contrasted so the use of the ultra-bright yellow subtitles, although an unfortunate decision, works for normal viewing purposes. I found only a few instances of combing and suspect that the transfer is not progressive. Perhaps I am being to picky - we thank Image Entertainment for bringing this film to light for many. The liner notes are very good and the isolated score is a decent touch. I highly doubt we will ever see this in any better form, so we still recommend the DVD, more so on the strength of the film than the technical qualities of the disc.

Gary W. Tooze

 

NOTE: Gordon says: I must point out that the Image DVD of "The Saragossa Manuscript" is actually cropped at 2.35:1 Dyaliscope to, as you accurately list, 1.92:1. Quite disappointing, really. Francis Ford Coppola was involved in the restoration and as he (and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro) seem to favor the 2:1 ratio, the prints may have been made at that ratio; either that, or Coppola supervised the transfer. Strangely, the film - it any other Has films - are available in Poland and no other DVDs of Has' films are available, which is very frustrating. (Thanks Gordon!)


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Box Covers

 

Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Zebra
Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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