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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Steven Soderbergh
USA 2001

 

Intertwining vignettes frame this tale of America's escalating War on Drugs. Ohio Supreme Court judge Robert Wakefield has been appointed the nation's Drug Czar, his new position made more daunting by the discovery that his teenage daughter Caroline is a heroin addict. Meanwhile, DEA agents Montel Gordon and Ray Castro are pursuing Helena Ayala, wife of jailed kingpin Carlos Ayala, as she seeks to the control the business that her husband had kept hidden from her. South of the Border, duplicitous local constable Javier Rodriguez is fighting the battle with his own jaded, questionable ethical code.

*****

Traffic examines the effect of drugs as politics, business, and lifestyle. Acting as his own director of photography, Steven Soderbergh employs an innovative, color-coded cinematic treatment to distinguish the interwoven stories of a newly appointed drug czar and his family, a West Coast kingpin’s wife, a key informant, and cops on both sides of the U.S./Mexican border. Rarely has a film so energetic and suspenseful presented a more complex and nuanced view of an issue of such international importance. Instantly recognized as a classic, Traffic appeared on more than 200 critics’ ten-best lists, and earned 5 Academy Award nominations.

 

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 27th, 2000

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Comparison: 

USA Home Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC vs. Criterion (re-issue) - Region 1- NTSC vs. Alliance (Canada) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) USA Home Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Alliance (Canada) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

Distribution

USA Home Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 151 (re-issue) Region 1 - NTSC

Alliance (Canada)

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Universal

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Criterion - Spine # 151
Region ' A' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 2:27:05 2:26:55 2:27:04.282 2:27:13.241 2:27:47.483

Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.50 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.19 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 22,861,466,528 bytes

Feature Size: 22,789,337,088 bytes

Average Bitrate: 20.66 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

Disc Size: 45,459,063,491 bytes

Feature Size: 41,459,312,640 bytes

Average Bitrate: 31.60 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray VC-1 Video

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,014,786,986 bytes

Feature: 31,996,311,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate: USA Home Entertainment

Bitrate: Criterion

Bitrate: Alliance

 Blu-ray

Bitrate: Universal

 Blu-ray

Bitrate: Criterion

 Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 5.1) English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 5.1) DTS-HD Master Audio English 3547 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3547 kbps / 24-bit
(DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2736 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2736 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio English 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2456 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2456 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1931 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1931 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None English, None French, None English, French, Spanish, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
USA Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect ratio - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Trailer / TV spots

• Featurette 'Inside Traffic" (18:43)

• Photo Gallery

DVD Release Date: January 5th, 2001
Keep Case

Chapters 68

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion
 

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect ratio - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Commentaries by: director Steven Soderbergh and writer Stephen Gaghan, producers Laura Bickford, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz and consultants Tim Golden and Craig Chretien, composer Cliff Martinez (with music cues not included in the film)

Disc 2
• 25 deleted scenes featuring commentary by director Steven Soderbergh and writer Stephen Gaghan
Film processing demonstration: • Achieving the look of Mexico sequences
• Editing demonstration with commentary from editor Stephen Mirrione
• Dialogue editing demonstration
• Additional footage featuring multiple angles from the scenes of the El Paso Intelligence Center, and the cocktail party where the U.S. Senators, major politicians, lobbyists and other state their views on the drug war
• U.S. Customs trading cards of the K-9 squad used in the detection of narcotics and illegal substances

• 8-page liner notes foldout with essay by Manohla Dargis

DVD Release Date: March 7th, 2006
Double thick keep case

Chapters 69

Release Information:
Studio: Alliance

 

Size: 22,861,466,528 bytes

Feature Size: 22,789,337,088 bytes

Average Bitrate: 20.66 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• none

Blu-ray Release Date: March 3rd, 2009
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 20

Release Information:
Studio: Universal

 

Disc Size: 45,459,063,491 bytes

Feature Size: 41,459,312,640 bytes

Average Bitrate: 31.60 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray VC-1 Video

 

Edition Details:
• 24 Deleted Scenes (26:04)

• Inside Traffic (18:53)

• DVD on opposite side (with exact same extras)

Blu-ray Release Date: April 27th, 2010
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 68

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion
 

 

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,014,786,986 bytes

Feature: 31,996,311,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Commentaries by: director Steven Soderbergh and writer Stephen Gaghan, producers Laura Bickford, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz and consultants Tim Golden and Craig Chretien, composer Cliff Martinez (with music cues not included in the film)
• 25 deleted scenes featuring commentary by director Steven Soderbergh and writer Stephen Gaghan
Film processing demonstration: • Achieving the look of Mexico sequences
• Editing demonstration with commentary from editor Stephen Mirrione
• Dialogue editing demonstration
• Additional footage featuring multiple angles from the scenes of the El Paso Intelligence Center, and the cocktail party where the U.S. Senators, major politicians, lobbyists and other state their views on the drug war
• U.S. Customs trading cards of the K-9 squad used in the detection of narcotics and illegal substances

• 8-page liner notes foldout with essay by Manohla Dargis

Blu-ray Release Date: January 1`7th, 2012
Transparent Blu-raycase

Chapters 68

 

Comments

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

 

ADDITION: Criterion Collection - Region 'A' Blu-ray - December 11': The Criterion Blu-ray is, surprisingly, similar to the Universal in terms of removing the intended filters (like sepia/brown/orange) - as compared to SD, and interlaced Alliance Blu-ray, which retained them. The Criterion package states 'Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Steven Soderbergh and supervising sound editor and rerecording mixer Larry Blake.'  The 2010 Universal Blu-ray does have the higher bitrate but utilizes the VC-1 encode and has far fewer extras including missing the three valuable commentaries. I couldn't detect any differences in the audio - Criterion also using a DTS-HD Master 5.1. the Criterion does offer English subtitles for the entire feature (and burned-in for the Spanish). The Universal hi-def may sport a bit more prevalent grain. The Criterion extras, however, are paramount to appreciating the film at its loftier level. This is where the benefit of the Criterion lies - although it is region locked to 'A' for those concerned with that aspect. I seem to get a little more out of Soderbergh's film in each subsequent viewings and I'll credit the Criterion supplements and commentaries with opening my eyes wider. Recommended for those who appreciate the extensive extras!

 

***

 

ADDITION: Universal Blu-ray - April 10': This Universal Blu-ray appears to improve dramatically over the DVDs and especially the Canadian 1080i edition. I kind of have to throw my hands up as to interpret what this film was meant to look like. I can say that the Universal has the most grain and is the sharpest.  Colors are also significantly brighter - but is this an improvement? With the varying style shifts of Traffic this is definitely NOT accurate to the theatrical version and I'd like to see the French Blu-ray to see how it interprets the film's tones. Do I suspect boosting? - No, I don't, but I am somewhat shocked that they have done this to the film - frankly, I much prefer the visual appearance of the Universal although, like Do the Right Thing, this could be a case of removing some intended filters (like sepia/brown/orange). Obviously, this is not like the theatrical version or comparable to the DVDs with heavy browns and blown out brightness. It is dual-layered with a much larger file size and bitrate than the Canuck Blu-ray. It really looks better to me (clearer with less of the light flaring - that was probably intentional - but irritating IMO). The grain hasn't suffered as it is far more prominent than any of the other transfers. We should note that the Canadian release used an MPEG-4 rendition where the Universal is VC-1 making me suspect it somehow relates to the 2006 HD-DVD version HERE. Although the file size indicates it surpasses the maximum capacity of that now defunct format. You can judge for yourself about the appearance presentation with the image captures below.

 

Audio I may give to the Alliance Blu-ray. It is not something I can definitively prove but I did some sampling and the two lossless transfers and the older Canadian one has a shade more depth and range. It just sounded nominally more powerful in the few scenes I tested. The Universal has optional subtitles in English, French and Spanish (plus burned-in English for the foreign language parts) and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.  Universal have kept the, whopping, 68 chapter stops as found on the DVD.

 

Nothing new in the extras excepting the, untested at the time of review, BD-Live functionality... and 'My Scenes' standard on Universal Blu-rays. The same 26-minutes worth of 24 Deleted Scenes and 18-minute featurette Inside Traffic are still here in SD only. Strangely, the original Universal DVD transfer resides on the opposite side of the Blu-ray disc. I can't see to many people making use of this - unless they have a second system (in the bedroom?) that is not capable of supporting the new format. I don't think I'm a fan. Anywhoo - the Criterion handily eclipses all discs in the supplements department.

 

This is a hefty film that has taken me quite a long time to appreciate. It may very well be that I didn't embrace the disparate visual style... at all - hence my leaning to the 'bastardized' 1080P. I wonder what the filmmakers will say? Purists may want the Criterion (consider the commentary/extras as well) despite my own preference for the 'newer' look. To each his own - I just love the heavy grain!  

 

 

***

ADDITION: Alliance Blu-ray - March -09': This Canadian Blu-ray transfer is, like their 1.78:1 Se7en, and Good Will Hunting, interlaced (1080i) - see last capture. While the price is enticing - we now know why and Alliance seem to be showing their true colors again. The image is brighter (colors paler) and does show superior detail at times. Traffic has a cornucopia of styles infesting the film and this may not be one of the most readily visible updates from SD to HD. 

This is bare bones with no extras (not a one). The best thing about this Blu-ray release is the DTS-HD Master audio bump, but this is not enough to recommend and forget the interlacing. There are optional French subtitles.

We say 'pass' on this and wait for a US releases that must surely be superior on every front.

ON THE DVDs: The image quality of both releases is excellent with only some very minor differences. The sepia sequences in Mexico (intentionally tinted) are a little darker on the Criterion DVD and the brownish hue is slightly less pronounced. Subtitles are a shade brighter on the USA Home Entertainment DVD. Other than that - framing, color, audio (both include 2.0 and 5.1 options), contrast and detail and just about exact (see bitrate chart peeks and valleys). The USA edition does give you the opportunity to remove the original presentation subtitles (when Spanish is spoken) and also French and Spanish subtitle options where the Criterion only has an English choice.

***


 

'Gary: The Criterion re-issue of Traffic is not in any way different from the prior release, but rather a re-promotion of the title with a wider distribution than before.' (thanks Patrick!).

***

The obvious benefit to this new Criterion release are the extensive extra features with 3 different commentaries including a Soderbergh/Gaghan one which is quite detailed. I only skimmed the other two but they might be worthy to someone who is extremely keen on the film or interested in extensive modern production techniques.

The Criterion 2nd disc is filled with deleted scenes and additional footage not present in the original theatrical viewing. There are also production demonstrations including editing that many young budding directors may wish to immerse themselves in.

Overall, without doubt the Criterion is the definitive release of this film, but I am left a little confused as why it was chosen for re-issue. I understand the film has a strong following but with so many other releases of this movie currently available (on top of the USA and initial Criterion DVDs there is also both a Polygram and MCA edition previously released and already available) it might seem that the market is a bit saturated for this particular title.

 - Gary Tooze  

 

 


DVD Menus


(USA Home Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC RIGHT)

 

 

 

Criterion (Disc 2)

 

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) USA Home Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Alliance (Canada) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) USA Home Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Alliance (Canada) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) USA Home Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Alliance (Canada) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) USA Home Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Alliance (Canada) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) USA Home Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Alliance (Canada) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) USA Home Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Alliance (Canada) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Interlacing transfer evident on Alliance Blu-ray

 

 

Box Cover

Distribution

USA Home Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 151 (re-issue) Region 1 - NTSC

Alliance (Canada)

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Universal

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Criterion - spine # 151
Region ' A' -
Blu-ray




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