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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Down to Earth" )

 

directed by Pedro Costa
Portugal/France/Germany 1994

 

In only his second feature, Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa (HORSE MONEY, IN VANDA'S ROOM) brilliantly reworked Jacques Tourneur's classic I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE into a reflection on his country s colonial legacy. A nurse, Mariana (InÍs Medeiros), accompanies Le„o (Isaach De Bankole) to his home on the volcanic islands of Cape Verde after an accident sends him into a coma. Yet he goes unrecognized by fellow denizens, leaving Mariana trapped with and eventually entranced by a mysterious community. Never before released in the U.S. and now beautifully restored, CASA DE LAVA foreshadows the masterful films that would follow, yet is an extraordinary, ravishing work in its own right.

***

Leao (Isaach De Bankole, WHITE MATERIAL), a Cape Verdian man working on a construction site in Portugal has a fall and ends up in a coma. While still comatose, arrangements are made from his hometown to have him sent back. A nurse, Mariana (Ines de Medeiros, O SANGUE), ready for a change of scene, volunteers to accompany him. Upon her arrival, nothing is as she expects. No one seems to be waiting for Leao.

As Mariana waits for someone to turn up, even Leao from out of his coma, she gets increasingly involved with the mysterious community and the intrigue mounts. In fact, CASA DE LAVA recalls CHINATOWN, where the nosy outsider steps into a situation that turns out to be much more than was bargained for.

The narrative itself, however, takes a back seat to poetics, which crafts stanzas out of ellipses and assumes a meter of remarkably edited cinematic rhythm. Director Pedro Costa creates some arresting portraiture, especially the selective low-angled close-ups, while cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel arrives at some exquisite night shots. The mise-en-scene ranges from highly suggestive to quite stealthy. An arsenal of symbolism, audio-visual disjunction, and insinuating edits work to paint a portrait of the social landscape. The pacing of CASA DE LAVA never languishes; the music is always in the moving image, whether the infectious Cape Verdian soundtrack is playing or not.

Fred Patton

Posters

Theatrical Release: 10 February 1995 (Portugal)

Reviews                                                                                    More Reviews                                                                        DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Gemini Video Editions - Region 2 - PAL vs. Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL vs. Grasshopper Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Fred Patton and Eric Cotenas for the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Gemini Video Editions - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT 

2) Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL  - MIDDLE

3) Grasshopper Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 Box Covers

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Gemini Video Editions

Region 2 - PAL

Second Run DVD
Region 0 - PAL
Grasshopper Film
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:45:28 (4% PAL speedup) 1:45:28 (4% PAL speedup) 1:50:21.573
Video

1.63:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.4 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.65:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.5 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc Size: 34,551,525,789 bytes

Feature Size: 29,806,760,832 bytes

Total Bitrate: 33.17 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

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

Bitrate:

 

Gemini Video Editions

 

Bitrate:

 

Second Run DVD

 

Bitrate:

 

Blu-ray

 

Audio Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

DTS-HD Master Audio Portuguese 1077 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1077 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Subtitles English, French, Portuguese, none English, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Gemini Video Editions

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.63:1

Edition Details:
• Pedro Costa's Notebook (31:11)
• Interview with cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel (7:47)
• Film Analysis by Serge Kaganski (4:11)
• Poster Gallery
• Still Gallery
• Filmographies
• Trailers for O SANGUE, OSSOS, CASA DE LAVA

DVD Release Date: 17 January 2005
Amaray

Chapters 14

Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.65:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with director Pedro Costa (16:9; 18:44)
• Interview with cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel (4:3; 7:57)
• The Other CASA DE LAVA - extracts from Pedro Costa's scrapbook (16:9; 23:41)
• New Essay Booklet by Jonathan Rosenbaum

 

DVD Release Date: 24 September 2012
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Grasshopper Films

 

Disc Size: 34,551,525,789 bytes

Feature Size: 29,806,760,832 bytes

Total Bitrate: 33.17 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:

• Casa de Lava scrapbook (2012, 24:33), pages from Pedro Costa s notebook, featuring images and texts gathered during production, and set to original music
• Interview with cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel (8:16)
• Theatrical Trailer (0:39)
• Plus, a booklet featuring essays by film scholars Darlene J. Sadlier and Jonathan Rosenbaum

 

Blu-ray Release Date: November 14th, 2017

Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments

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

ADDITION: Grasshopper Films - Region FREE- Blu-ray - April 18': This is in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio on a dual-layered disc with a high bitrate. It looks liker the same source as the Second Run supporting the same colors, flesh tones gain some warm and look a shade more realistic and the higher resolution providing a stronger level of detail, and often a thick film-like, presentation. It's a definite pleasing notch-up from the DVDs and, of course, it not longer has the unnecessary PAL speedup.

Grasshopper Film's audio comes in a DTS-HD Master mono (24-bit) track in the original Portuguese and some Kabuverdianu. It sounds flat with some depth - the film has many silent pauses but there is music in the form of Raul Andrade's performing Morna das sombras. The sound is intentionally less-remarkable but fulfilling the emphasis requirements of the film precisely via the lossless and there are optional English subtitles on the Region FREE Blu-ray disc.

Looks like the same extras from the Second Run DVD from 2012 with the 25-minute Casa de Lava scrapbook showing pages from Pedro Costa s notebook, featuring images and texts gathered during production, and set to original music plus an 8-minute interview with cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel and a short trailer for the film. The package has a booklet featuring essays by film scholars Darlene J. Sadlier and Jonathan Rosenbaum. It does not have the interview with Costa on the UK DVD.

Casa De Lava is a film that improves each time I see it. It's mysterious and rich in imagery, detail and resonates poetry and art - not unlike Tourneur's I Walked With a Zombie. I really enjoyed my Blu-ray viewing for both resonating audio and film-like video. Great job Grasshopper Film. Certainly I couldn't develop an argument against this being called a masterpiece. Your collection is weaker without it.

***

ON THE DVDs: Second Run's dual-layer, anamorphic DVD is mastered from a new director-supervised HD master which is brighter and appears to handle the contrasts of the sun-baked cinematography (as well as the night scenes) better than the previous SD master. The sound mix is supposed to be Dolby Stereo, but the remastered audio mix - while vibrant - is not too directional (although the mix suits the film's atmosphere).

Pedro Costa appears in an English-language interview shot at the Tate Gallery in 2009 (the Eureka Entertainment copyright suggests that Costa's discussion of COLOSSAL YOUTH on the Eureka "Masters of Cinema" release and this may have been part of a career-length discussion). Costa confirms Jonathan Rosenbaum's assertion in the disc's liner notes essay that the film was at first mounted as a remake of Jacques Tourneur's I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (which was later remade in a more straightforward yet less satisfactory adaptation as RITUAL in 2002 as the intended third installment of Universal's TALES FROM THE CRYPT feature film series but ended up shelved for several years before being purchased by Miramax and released straight to DVD). Costa discusses the difficulty of financing his second feature despite O SANGUE's reception and his conflicts with the cast and crew when he decided to abandon (and even boycott) his own script (he refers to the shooting of the film as his APOCALYPSE NOW). He (as does Rosenbaum in the booklet) also discusses the importance of this film to his subsequent Cape Verde-set films (the Robert Desnos poem recited in this film - in the form of a love letter - is heard repeatedly in his later films, and a character late in the film even shouts "Juvemtude em Marcha" the Portuguese title of the later Costa film better known as COLOSSAL YOUTH).

The French disc also featured excerpts from Costa's scrapbook, but Second Run's version is newly-created (set to the music of Raul Andrade from the film and the ambient sounds recorded by Henri Maikoff during the production). Since it runs shorter than the version on the French disc, I'm not sure whether anything has been omitted or if the the former simply lingered longer on each page. The scrapbook really does not get us that much closer to Costa's original scenario (some brief subtitle captioning of the text or pictures might have been useful), but it may give viewers a hint of the filmic world Costa had constructed for the project before it was ruptured. Although copyrighted 2012, cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel's interview is presumably the same one as seen on the French disc (it is in 4:3 unlike the other extras). Machuel's discussion is extremely generalized and seems to be more about the general working method rather than his actual collaboration with Costa.

 - Eric Cotenas

FRED PATTON ON THE FRENCH RELEASE: The disc is subtitled throughout the bonus content and the film. This seems to be a standard for Gemini Vid?o Editions, who decide on some 15 films to release a year and handle them like artworks. While there is no director commentary or interview with the director, the provided supplements are excellent. Costa's preparation notebook is a gem. Kaganski's commentary is quite brief. Machuel's 8 minute talk is nice. All said, the extras are perhaps a wee bit lean, but the notebook slide show leaves me very satisfied. I look forward to pursuing the rest of Gemini's catalogue.

 


DVD Menus
(Gemini Video Editions - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 

 

 

Grasshopper Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

1) Gemini Video Editions - Region 2 - PAL - TOP 

2) Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL  - MIDDLE

3) Grasshopper Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

Subtitle sample


1) Gemini Video Editions - Region 2 - PAL - TOP 

2) Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL  - MIDDLE

3) Grasshopper Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Gemini Video Editions - Region 2 - PAL - TOP 

2) Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL  - MIDDLE

3) Grasshopper Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Gemini Video Editions - Region 2 - PAL - TOP 

2) Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL  - MIDDLE

3) Grasshopper Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Gemini Video Editions - Region 2 - PAL - TOP 

2) Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL  - MIDDLE

3) Grasshopper Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Gemini Video Editions - Region 2 - PAL - TOP 

2) Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL  - MIDDLE

3) Grasshopper Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Second Run

 
 Box Covers

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Gemini Video Editions

Region 2 - PAL

Second Run DVD
Region 0 - PAL
Grasshopper Film
Region FREE -
Blu-ray

 

 




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